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8 Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Millennial Nurses

With fewer nurses entering the field, and with large numbers of Baby Boomers retiring, nurses are in high demand. This means that nurse leaders must be proactive if they’re going to successfully recruit and retain millennial nurses to help reduce the pressure of today’s shortage.

After reviewing U.S. Census Bureau data, Pew Research found that more than 33% of American workers in the workforce today happen to be Millennials. It’s important for nurse executives to understand what millennial nurses are looking for, what brings them on board, and what will keep them happy once they’re hired.

Understanding What Makes Millennials Unique

It’s important to understand what makes Millennials unique in the workforce in order to recruit and keep them. Some of the characteristics of this generation include:

  • Comfort with and affinity for technology
  • Believe in positive influence and the collective power of their group
  • Drive to communicate
  • Drive and desire to advance
  • Highly structured lives with little unscheduled time
  • Eager to impart ideas
  • Excellent at multitasking
  • Willing to be transient if a job doesn’t meet their needs
  • Less likely to be motivated by money
  • Prioritize personal life as well as career

In the past, nursing has been known as a field with long hours, little control over schedule, and extensive overtime. The nursing shortage has only made these issues even more of a problem. Employers need to get creative, coming up with strategies that bring in new millennial nurses and foster loyalty to keep them on the job. Here’s a look at eight essential strategies nurse executives can use to attract and retain millennial nurses, who are the future of the nursing profession.

Strategy #1 – Provide Millennials with Opportunities for Career Growth and Advancement

Millennial nurses don’t want to be stuck in the same position for years before they ever have a chance for advancement, according to American Nurse Today.  They want to have opportunities for career growth and advancement. They’re attracted to hospitals offering career ladders and learning opportunities. Offering tuition reimbursement for nurses that want to complete a master’s program or other continuing education is attractive to these nurses, providing them with the ability to continually advance and move upward into leadership.

Strategy #2 – Improve Your Employee Benefits to Attract Millennial Nurses

While compensation does matter to millennial nurses, they are less motivated by money and more motivated by the types of benefits available to them. Many hospitals are offering attractive sign-on bonuses to bring in more nurses, which can be attractive, but it may be even more effective to come up with a better benefits package when working to bring in more Millennials. With many of these nurses dealing with big debt after nursing school, college loan forgiveness programs are an attractive benefit. Since millennial nurses care so much about their family, offering health insurance benefits for their families and childcare assistance can go a long way towards bringing in this generation. Fitness centers, more time off, and other amenities bring in these nurses and help keep them loyal to an employer.

Strategy #3 – Invest in Cutting-Edge Equipment and Technology

Since millennial nurses have grown up in the digital age, they’re used to having the latest technology at their fingertips, but at home and on the job. These nurses easily become frustrated with slow or out-of-date equipment and technology and according to, they’re attracted to facilities with interventional radiology, hybrid operated rooms, smart rooms, and other types of high-technology. They want the efficiency offered by cutting-edge, modern technology, and it’s important to show these nurses that your medical facility is willing to invest in the latest technology to make the job easier for nurses.

Strategy #4 – Offer Mentoring with Residency Programs

One thing that millennial nurses want when they head to their first job is a mentoring program, which has prompted more and more hospitals to establish nurse residency programs that offer support, hands-on experiences, more education, and simulation. Transitioning from student to full-fledged nurse can seem overwhelming for Millennials, and they appreciate having mentors and learning more about how to interact with other nurses and healthcare professionals, families, and patients. Not only do more new nurses gravitate towards hospitals that offer these residency programs, the residency experience offers other benefits, including:

  • Building confidence in new nurses by linking critical actions and critical thinking
  • Fosters exploration and reflection through cases review
  • Creates connectivity among nurses and ensures nursing values are passed along
  • Improves and advances communication skills
  • Makes new nurses feel more valued

Strategy #5 – Make it Possible for Millennial Nurses to Have a Positive Work-Life Balance

While it’s one of the toughest tasks for nurse executives, one of the most important strategies for recruiting and retaining millennial nurses is to offer a positive work-life balance. According to Medical Recruiting, millennials work hard to balance their personal lives with demanding carriers, and over 50% of them are willing to take pay cuts to find jobs that match their lifestyle and values. Today’s younger nurses want to have more flexibility in their work schedules. They look for hospitals that give them enough flexibility to attend important events or the flexibility to be with their children when needed. This group of nurses also looks for a nursing job that allows them to adjust hours as needed and they expect plenty of pain time off as well. If a job doesn’t work for their personal life, Millennials aren’t afraid to change jobs to find a nursing job that better works with their personal life.

Strategy #6 – Communicate a Mission and Purpose

The 2006 Cone Millennial Cause Study found that about 61% of Millennials feel responsible for making a difference, and they not only believe it’s their responsibility to help make the better place, they also believe that the companies they work for should be joining them in making the world a better place. Studies also show that 94% of Millennials want to take their professional skills and use them for good. This group of nurses want to find medical facilities that will help them achieve their purpose, so it’s important for today’s medical facilities to communicate a mission and purpose when working to attract and retain millennial nurses. Many of these nurses have chosen the nursing profession to make a difference in the lives of patients and they want to work for organizations that provide quality care while also valuing employees.

It’s essential to make sure that today’s millennial nurse can understand the purpose of your facility, and one way to do this, according to, is to print those values on the back of every nurse’s badge so they can see those core values each day. Focus on these values, give nurses the chance to have a role in enhancing your company culture, and make sure they feel like they can work together with your facility to do good.

Strategy #7 – Create a Collaborative Workplace Culture

Millennials love team work and collaboration in the work place, and from the time they were young, they’ve wanted to be a part of a cohesive team. Teamwork is critical when multi-disciplinary teams have to work together in a hospital or other facility to optimize patient care, and millennial nurses make excellent team members. To reach millennials who want to be a part of the team on the job, it’s important for nurse managers to create a collaborative workplace that focus on team work while acknowledging the contribution and expertise of every member of the team, providing team members with meaningful recognition.

Strategy #8 – Open the Lines of Communication to Make Millennial Nurses Feel Heard

One of the fastest ways to lose your millennial nurses is to make big decisions without input or to fail to keep them informed about important news. Millennials are not just used to having information available with the click of a button, they also want to know they have a voice and it’s being heard. Opening the lines of communication and creating a transparent work culture ensures that these nurses feel heard. Conducting surveys to learn more about what nurses want and then making changes based upon this feedback can build trust and ensure that millennial nurses feel that there are open lines of communication.


Hiring millennial nurses can offer many benefits to healthcare facilities. These nurses are great team players, they’re tech savvy, cost effective, and they are current, always wanting to improve and learn more. As millennial nurses make up more and more of the nursing work force, make sure you’re using these recruitment and retention strategies to bring in new nurses and keep the ones you have to help ease the pressures coming with today’s country-wide nursing shortage.

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