Job Satisfaction as Experienced by Generation Y Nurses: A Phenomenological Study

Monday, 9 November 2015

Sonia Anselmo-Witzel, PhD, MSEd, RN, SNT
Modular RN to BS Program, Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, NY, USA

Job Satisfaction as Experienced by Generation Y Nurses: A Phenomenological Study

Job satisfaction in nursing has been reported to be at an all-time low, which has posed a challenge for healthcare organizations (Chung & Fitzsimons, 2013).  With an increasing shortage of nurses, awareness needs to be directed toward understanding job satisfaction among nurses. When nurses are dissatisfied with their job, healthcare organizations can spend millions of dollars per year on orientating and recruiting new nurses, as well as employing traveling or contract nurses (Morgan & Lynn, 2009).

Efforts by healthcare organizations and nurse leaders are necessary to address job satisfaction among Generation Y nurses to maintain and recruit this generation to mitigate the nursing shortage in the United States.  According to Zinn, Guglielmi, Davis, and Moses (2012), the nursing shortage affects all aspects of healthcare, which threatens patient safety, quality of patient care, and the ability of healthcare organizations to meet the healthcare needs of Americans.  A worsening shortage of nurses can be lessened by promoting retention of younger nurses, members of Generation Y, entering the nursing profession (Tourangeau, Cummings, Cranley, Ferron, & Harvey, 2009).  Focus should be on job satisfaction for Generation Y nurses, because they are the future generation of nurses of our society and world.

Job satisfaction is important to assess in Generation Y nurses because this generation is just starting their careers.  Job satisfaction has been identified as one of the most significant reasons affecting nurses’ choices to continue at their place of employment (Tourangeau et al., 2009).  Since job satisfaction has been shown to predict retention of employees, it is an area of concern within Generation Y nurses because this generation is more likely to leave their organization if they are not satisfied with their job (Morgan & Lynn, 2009)

Job satisfaction is the major contributor on intent to remain employed (Tourangeau et al., 2009).  According to Tourangeau et al. (2009), previous research studies have had little success in explaining what components of job satisfaction cause nurses to remain employed.  Understanding the lived experiences of job satisfaction among Generation Y nurses is needed in the retention of younger nurses to make sure an adequate supply of registered nurses remain in the workforce.  The results from this present study, which identify job satisfiers for Generation Y nurses, will potentially allow nursing leaders to develop strategies in retaining and recruiting this generation of nurses (Morgan & Lynn, 2009).

  According to Wieck, Dols, and Northam (2009), research indicated high levels of stress and low levels of occupational fulfillment are being reported among new graduate Generation Y nurses.  Job dissatisfaction is a concern to healthcare organizations, which could amount to spending millions of dollars per year on orienting and recruiting new nurses (Morgan & Lynn, 2009).  Wieck et al. (2009) reported estimated costs to replace a registered nurse range from $10,000 to $60,000, and $42,000 to $64,000 to replace a specialty nurse.  Generational differences, personnel shortages, and an aging population are causes for healthcare organizations to think about reasons that influence job satisfaction among Generation Y nurses.

The purpose of this descriptive phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of job satisfaction among Generation Y nurses in the workplace in an urban hospital located in Upstate New York.  The research design involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with 10 Generation Y registered nurses.  The central research question that guided the study was: What is the lived experience of job satisfaction for Generation Y nurses at an acute-care facility?  Herzberg's dual-factor theory of job satisfaction and motivation formed the theoretical framework for this study.  Colaizzi's seven-step method was used to guide the analysis of the study to identify four main themes and six sub-themes in the data generated from the participants.  The four themes and six sub-themes were as follows: (a) experiences of feeling good, (b) relationships, (c) job strain, and (d) having choices.  The sub-themes making a difference, feelings of value, and I found my calling emerged from the theme experiences of feeling good.  The sub-themes connections, balancing life, and feeling devalued emerged from the theme relationships

This study may bring awareness to nurse administrators and managers if they wish to retain Generation Y nurses by addressing the importance of understanding satisfiers Generation Y nurses identified.  Exploring the lived experiences of job satisfaction and the meaning Generation Y nurses attach to those experiences may potentially increase understanding about generation-specific retention within healthcare organizations.  Nurses can benefit from the recognition that job satisfaction within the profession may lead to decreased turnover rates in Generation Y nurses.