Engaging millennials

Leaders take hard look at retaining younger generation of nurses and tapping into their skills By Heather Stringer


n 2010, leaders at Rush Oak Park Hospital in Illinois were alarmed by their 20% nurse turnover rate — and the majority of those leaving were new graduates who had stayed with the

organization for fewer than two years. Karen Mayer, PhD, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, vice president of patient care services, asked these nurses during exit interviews why they were leaving. Many said they felt that they were not making a diff erence and were not appreciated by more seasoned nurses. Mayer knew she would risk losing more new nurses unless

the hospital began re-evaluating its approach to these nurses and their needs. The hospital began considering millennials for committee posts, as well as leadership roles. “They want to feel that their opinions and extra activities are valued in making the organization a place of excellence,” Mayer said.

The millennial mind The leadership at Rush Oak Park Hospital started by educating the nursing staff about the value and capabilities of millennials, which refers to members of the population in the 18-to-35 age range, according to the Pew Research Center. “Historically charge nurse roles were reserved for senior nurses, but we explained that younger RNs may have the skills needed for this role,” Mayer said. Millennials, she said, have skills in negotiation and group

dynamics they developed during school. “I’ve also noticed that millennials are very passionate about being involved in com- mittees,” Mayer said. “It’s important to allow them to explore their ideas in these settings, because they can see things that more experienced caregivers may not envision as a possibility.” Bob Dent, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE,

senior vice president, chief operating offi cer and CNO of Midland Memorial Hospital, Texas, has made it a point to include millennials on committees or other groups that are working to make improvements at the hospital. This summer a young nurse championed a team that was tasked with improving bedside handoff s. “I gave the team two days to work nonstop to fi nd a solution,” said Dent. “I stepped out of the room and trusted them with the process.”

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Dent’s decision is part of the hospital’s larger mission to create a

culture of ownership. Rather than reserving important projects and decisions to top-level leaders, he encourages all nurses to identify and solve problems and to be innovative and creative with new ideas. At Midland Memorial Hospital, Dent propagated the concept of ownership by training 60 employees to lead a two-day course called The Twelve Core Action Values. The course helps participants identify and act upon their personal values, such as courage, authenticity, vision and perseverance. The hospital started off ering the course in January 2015, and more than 2,000 staff members have fi nished the training and learned how to put their values into action — both inside and outside of work. “Something I hear a lot is that young people today just don’t want to work

hard, but I disagree,” said Joe Tye, CEO of Values Coach, Inc. and developer of the course. “They aren’t motivated to show up just to impress a boss. They want to feel like they are connected to a bigger mission than the job.” By focusing on personal values, participants in the course have gone

on to quit smoking, confront workplace bullies, apply to graduate school and make other signifi cant life changes, Tye said.

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