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Journal of Nursing Administration:

Nursing Values and a Changing Nurse Workforce: Values, Age, and Job Stages

McNeese-Smith, Donna K. EdD, RN, CNAA; Crook, Mary MN, RN

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Objectives: To identify the extent values are associated with age group and job stage; job satisfaction, productivity, and organizational commitment; as well as education, generation, ethnicity, gender, and role.

Background: Values direct the priorities we live by and are related to employee loyalty and commitment. Lack of congruency between a nurse’s personal values and those of the organization decrease satisfaction and effectiveness and may lead to burnout and turnover. Little research has been done on whether values differ by age, generations, or job stages.

Methods: Nurses in all roles (N = 412) in three hospitals in Los Angeles County were randomly surveyed, using valid and reliable instruments to measure the variables of interest.

Results: Nurses in the top third for job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity showed higher scores for many values including their associates, creativity, esthetics, and management, while those in the bottom third scored higher in economic returns only. Nurses in different generations differed little; younger generations placed higher values on economic returns and variety.

Conclusions and implications: Management strategies to meet nurses’ values and increase their satisfaction and retention are presented.

Values are a fundamental part of our human existence. They direct the priorities we live by and shape our being in the world. 1 Values filter the information we use to judge situations and make decisions, and values ultimately shape our consciousness. Lee characterized values as the basis upon which individuals make choices about how to live their lives. 2 Consciously or unconsciously, values influence the selection of priorities that are then acted on in our personal and professional lives. Shared values in the workplace build trust and are essential for employee loyalty and commitment. 3,4

Living outside our values creates a dissonance between our inner and outer world that is stressful and exhausting. 1 In the work setting, a lack of congruency between personal and organizational values decreases job satisfaction and work productivity and ultimately may lead to job burnout and turnover. 5–8

Although studies have focused on job satisfaction and turnover associated with dissatisfaction, 9–12 little research has been done on values held by nurses and whether values change with age and job stage. With an aging nursing workforce and an increasing nursing shortage, it is vital to understand how values influence nurses’ satisfaction as they age and move through job stages. This information might enable organizations to promote strategies that enhance recruitment, job satisfaction, productivity, organizational commitment, excellence, and ultimately retention. 13 Therefore, the purposes of this study were to identify the extent values are associated with the independent variables of age group and job stage, and with the dependent variables of job satisfaction, productivity, and organizational commitment. Additional purposes were to determine relationships among values and demographic variables of education, generation, ethnicity, gender, and role. This was part of a larger study that examined developmental stages of nurses.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.



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