If organisations want to retain qualified nurses they need to tackle the different work factors that are important to the three key age groups and build on the strong attachment that many nurses feel to the profession.
Those are the key messages to emerge from a large-scale survey of nurses published in the January issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Australian researchers surveyed 900 nurses from seven private hospitals in four states, breaking them down into Baby Boomers (44 to 46 years), Generation X (29 to 43 years) and Generation Y (under 29).
The sample was representative of the nursing population in Australia. Most were women (96%), over 42 years of age, working as Registered Nurses (RNs) and doing between five and eight shifts a week.
“Our findings, which we believe may be applicable to many international hospitals, show that there is no single driver behind nurse retention” says co-author Dr Kate Shacklock, Senior Lecturer in Employment Relations and Human Resources at Griffith University, Queensland.
“Older nurses were more likely to be influenced by a larger number of factors than younger nurses and flexible working arrangements, which have been suggested by some as a possible solution to retention issues, were not deemed significant by any of the three age groups.
“Our findings confirm that there is no single driver behind nurse retention and that further research is necessary. However, one clear message emerges – that nurses feel a strong attachment to healing and to the nursing profession and this is a key factor influencing their intention to continue nursing.
Developed countries around the globe are currently suffering nurse shortages. For example, latest figures show that of the qualified nurses currently working in Australia, only 73% were employed in nursing.
Over half of the respondents (54%) were Baby Boomers, 38% were Generation X and 8% were Generation Y. Seven out of ten (69%) were RNs and the sample also included nurse unit managers, enrolled nurses and endorsed enrolled nurses.
Is your ‘strong attachment to healing’ what keeps you in the profession?