1. Murray, Kathleen DNP, ARNP, NE-BC

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Millennials: The future workforce

Q I have an increasing number of millennials joining my staff. How do I maximize their contributions?

The 88 million people born between 1980 and 2002 are identified as millennials and will be the largest nursing workforce since the 77 million-strong baby boomer workforce. The majority of today's higher-level nursing leaders are baby boomers or generation Xers, and both groups have totally opposite work values than millennials. As a leader, you'll clearly need to understand the characteristics of the millennial generation and what you'll need to do to maximize their contributions. The following is an overview of millennials.



The millennials bring a breath of fresh air to the workforce with their can-do attitude. This is a workforce that's innovative, creative, capable of multitasking, and goal-driven. They want to know what it will take to get to the next level in their career and will take on challenges. Millennials want to work in meaningful jobs where they feel valued.



This has always been a part of their lives because millennials have grown up with the Internet, cell phones, text messaging, and social media. They prefer learning through online education and are adept at using Internet searches to gather information. This is a generation whose world revolves around instant communication.


Team players

Being part of a team is the core strength of millennials who thrive in a collaborative, friendly environment. They embrace diversity and prosper when they have a close relationship with leaders who nurture and support them.


Work-life balance

Millennials need to balance their work and personal lives. You won't find them signing up for a job that requires working early morning, evening, or weekend hours beyond their committed required work hours.


So what can you do to maximize the millennial workforce?


* Take advantage of their technology expertise. They should be your electronic health record super users, text messaging champions, unit-based portal developers, and the list goes on. Embrace their skill set and your areas will definitely succeed in the technology arena.


* Provide a structure around unit-based reports, staff scheduling, goal setting, assignments, and outcomes.


* Provide positive leadership and guidance. I can't stress this enough. Millennials want a mentor from whom to learn and seek ongoing feedback. They need your continuous encouragement regarding their can-do attitude because not all staff will embrace them. This will require a lot of your time but the end result will be a committed millennial workforce.


* Encourage them to join teams because this generation believes that the team approach is most successful in obtaining established goals. You now have an incoming workforce that embraces teamwork, take advantage of it.


* Don't ignore your millennial employees. You need to stop and listen to them when they want to talk to you. Be present with them and make sure you follow up in a timely manner on an ongoing basis.


* Support them through access to e-mail, texting, and the Internet. When you hear the word multitasker, think of the millennial employee.


* If you need external networking for evidence-based practice, professional organizations, or Magnet(R) organizations, your millennial employees will make it happen. They'll be your networking gurus, but remember that this could also open the door for the millennial employee to post his or her resume on numerous websites and move on. Although they're committed employees, they grew up learning to keep their options open.



For millennials, the workplace environment needs to be positive with a focus on employees, work-life balance, and teamwork. Make your millennial employees happy in a fun, yet structured, setting and you'll be building the infrastructure for a sustainable, committed workforce of the future.