A brief, targeted book about generational and educational differences in nurses’ commitment levels offers health care managers tips on how to maintain staff loyalty.
This debut work is the result of the author’s six-year Ph.D.–level study of nurse retention in Alabama. In the United States, the nurse-patient ratio is decreasing, with an extreme shortage predicted by 2025. Key to combating this scarcity and the high cost of turnover are the concepts of “organizational commitment” and employee engagement. Jones uses Karl Mannheim’s theory of generations to discuss the differences among baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y (or Millennials) in terms of education, technology usage, and commitment. For instance, baby boomers, who started out in a paper-heavy workplace, struggle to adapt to new technologies; on the other hand, they are dedicated to rising within the ranks of their own organizations. By contrast, Generation X, always searching for higher remuneration, expects little job security (“Members of Generation X are seldom permanent employees because they are always critical of their current position and are frequently on the lookout for better opportunities”). To address frequent sources of dissatisfaction, Jones recommends that managers implement individualized employee development plans. Baby boomers could get more involved mentoring younger nurses, while Generation Xers might enter continuing education programs leading to promotions. Jones writes in a direct, straightforward style that generally avoids jargon. Managers should appreciate her confident rendering of current circumstances: “everyone seems to be at each other’s throat….The Gen Xer is getting really tired of the Boomer constantly looking over his shoulder. He has things under control, why won’t she just back off?!” But such informality—also seen in the gimmicky, exclamation-filled epigraph and introduction—is at odds with the booklet’s academic format. Endmatter (appendices, bibliography, index) takes up more space than the text itself—which, at just 35 pages, feels cursory. The index redundantly includes various forms of the same words, such as differ/difference/different. References could be converted into endnotes to avoid breaking up the flow of the text; figures and tables should be in higher resolution. A few interviews or case studies would make all of this material more personal.
Somewhat slight, this work still introduces useful ideas applicable to many staffing situations.