Is It Me? Or My Generation?

  1. Sometimes it might seem like we just can’t mesh well younger or older employees. Is it us? Or is it our generation? While no one likes to be categorized, many people who grew up in a specific timeframe and were exposed to similar experiences end up with shared beliefs and values. Perhaps taking the time to recognize this and embrace our differences might help us work better with different generations of nurses.

    Is It Me? Or My Generation?

    While attending nursing school, I worked my way through various roles at my job at a women's health clinic. When I graduated, I was ready to move into a nursing position with the company. Imagine my surprise when the company I'd worked with for eight years responded that they didn't have a current need for nurses. Then they wished me luck in acquiring a nursing position.

    I hadn't noticed that the nursing shortage had ended at that time, and that experienced nurses flooded the market, or that time has a way of changing things. I'd rested on the principles of my parents' generation, where I thought long standing company loyalty as what was expected. While growing up, many people worked at one job with one company for their entire lifetime. I thought my path would be the same.

    Assumptions can't be made about each generation because we're all individuals, but the period we grow up in can influence our values and beliefs. Our experiences and the state of the world may shape our thoughts and perspectives, how we interact with others, our work ethic, and our expectations from our employers and each other. Our work and interactions with different generations don't mean that we'll change our perceptions or beliefs, but it's helpful to understand that this might influence our workplace relationships.

    Our View of The World

    My twin girls are Generation Z. About six years ago it became apparent that they'd view things differently based on the world they grew up in.
    My daughter thrust the phone at me and declared something was wrong. Because when she dialed her friend's number she was met with an annoying sound. She couldn't understand why she couldn't get through.

    Amused, I informed her that this sound was a busy signal. My daughter had no idea what I was talking about. Since her friend didn't have a cell phone, my daughter wanted to know how she could reach her friend now.

    I said, "You'll have to wait and call her later."

    The idea of a lack of immediate communication was foreign to her, as it would be from what she was accustomed to. The same way I'd not experienced the world as my parents did that helped shape their perspective.

    Consider Different Mindsets

    I've reviewed many resumes and completed countless interviews over the years. Some things may not have changed with my interview practices, but I've learned that other things have. Such as that I'm no longer quick to judge the applicant who's had multiple short-term jobs. Something that me, or my generation, may have considered a negative trait. Nowadays, opportunities are vast, and many companies value the variety of skills and experience acquired from varied positions.

    Thus, some employers might view the resume I'd built and perfected over the years and assume that I'm not open to change, or that the structure is outdated, or that I don't have enough diversity in my skills. I may not agree with these assumptions, but in realizing the mindset of the employers that may view them, I can have my resume updated to a more modern style and font, and highlight the relevant skills to help to display what they're looking for. Even if the employer is from my, or an older generation, I understand that the way my skills are evaluated may have changed to keep up with the times.

    Sometimes it can be beneficial to take a moment to realize our beliefs assume that others understand our perspective. While in some ways that's challenging, if not impossible, to meet without having the same experiences. But what we can do is be open to learning from each other. Each generation has something we can learn from the other. We are individuals and should be treated as such.

    Changing Perspective

    If we view that our goals are often the same, even if we take a different route to achieve them, we can realize that there are valuable skills gained in each generation, despite our differences. We can't stop the passage of time, nor control another's thoughts and beliefs, nor should we want to. The best we can do is look to understand each other and help lift each other up for success. If we seek to discover the value and focus on what gifts each person brings to the position, we can accept each person as an individual. Understanding that no generation is better than the other, but together we make a perfect blend of skills, it can help us all in meeting our goals.
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    Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN draws from years of experience in nursing administration, leadership and psychiatric nursing to write healthcare content. Her experience as a fiction author helps her to craft engaging and creative content. Learn more about her freelance writing at and her fiction books at

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  3. by   Amethya
    My kids didn't understand what VHS tapes were until I found a VHS in my garage, worked it up and we watched Disney movies. They were amazed.
  4. by   KelRN215
    Quote from Amethya
    My kids didn't understand what VHS tapes were until I found a VHS in my garage, worked it up and we watched Disney movies. They were amazed.
    One of my favorite memories from a Camp that I used to volunteer at was when we wanted to watch Forrest Gump with the teenagers. It was on VHS. They put it in the VCR, it started to play and the final credits were rolling. We told them "it needs to be rewound" and none of them understood what that meant.
  5. by   BlinkyPinky
    I've heard of kids not knowing how to operate a rotary- dial phone , or even identify what that is! Lol. And yes, the good ol busy signal. And my way of " turning my phone off", or " blocking someone"- was the old take the phone off the hook routine ! Lol
  6. by   Have Nurse
    Interesting perspective. Yes, a lot does have to do with what things we grew up. But I also blame it on lack of education in the schools.

    The focus is so tech and politics oriented.

    When I was growing up, we visited farm museums, the telephone companies, bakeries and the Science Museum in St. Paul. We learned about old technology and how it's changed over the years. We got to "try" to use the older equipment at the place we visited on the field trip. It was great fun and posed a lesson on how pioneers communicated before the crank phone, the candlestick phones, etc.

    We learned how to create fun instead of zoning out at a computer screen.

    Today, I share the old stories with the younger generation and they are truly intrigued. It makes me smile.

    But I also have to say this because it's bugged me for years. There's no such thing as "Generation X-Y-Z or what have you. I find those terms demeaning and categorizing regardless of their purpose. Labeling is wrong. They're just kids...people.