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UBC Graduate Research

NEXUS Seminar: Diversity within nurses’ workgroups: Key to success or a source of tension? Wolff, Angela


For the first time ever, there are four (soon to be five) generations of nurses working side‐by‐side in the workplace. Within the generational cohorts there are differences in age as well as dissimilarity in education, ethnicity, and work values. We examined the complex linkages between diversity among nursing workgroups, professional burnout and the mediating effects of conflict (relationship and task). Diversity was defined as the degree of relative difference or dissimilarity between an individual and other workgroup members on demographic attributes (age, education and ethnicity) and work values. Data were collected from a population‐based sample of 600 nurses (80% response rate) employed by two hospitals in British Columbia. Using latent variable modelling, the findings from this study show the importance of differences in work values in creating conflict, which in turn leads to burnout. To a lesser extent, differences in education also predicted nurses’ displaying a negative and distant attitude as well as having a reduced sense of personal accomplishment. Addressing work stressors associated with diversity is an important step in the management of the healthcare workplace, the development of a healthy workforce, and the retention of nurses (organizational and professional). Interventions are needed to effectively manage diverse workplaces and to nurture teamwork; these strategies are crucial to improving the workplace environment, the quality of nurses’ worklife, and possibly patient care.

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