Generational Diversity: Achieving Generational Balance [Interview][Transcript]

Christopher_Martorella_Generational_Diversity_nursing_leadersGuest: Christopher Martorella
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Christopher Martorella is a skilled healthcare leader with more than 30 years of experience in nursing leadership, clinical operations, and patient services. Christopher has served as a consultant and project manager for a range of engagements for nursing leaders.

Segment overview: Christopher Martorella, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, discusses activities designed to assist nursing leaders in achieving balance while dealing with employees from diverse generational backgrounds.

Health Professional Radio – Generational Balance

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest in studio today is a man that noticed a very important health care profession issue over the last several years that he says needs to be addressed, the issue of generational diversity. Our guest says that it can make or break a health care institution and that we’re experiencing a multitude of generations working together, the likes of which we’ve never seen before in this United States. Christopher Martorella is here with us this afternoon as a skilled health care leader with more than 30 years of experience in nursing leadership, he served as a consultant and project manager for a wide range of engagements including nursing and other clinical departmental operational assessments and he’s here today with us to talk about some strategies that hospital leaders can use in order to strengthen their generationally diverse workforce. Hello Chris, how are you?

Christopher Martorella: I’m great Neal, how are you this afternoon?

N: I’m doing well. Tell our listeners what generational diversity is and why is it such an important issue especially in the health care industry.

C: Sure Neal, well generational diversity is just one type of diversity that has come to interest, the workforce probably for the last 20 to 30 years. What’s interesting about generational diversity unlike diversity in gender or of color or other ethnicity is that this is the first time in the history of United States where 4 generations have been working side by side in various businesses and those generational differences between the workers can certainly play to hospital strength but they can also create a lot of tension and headache for a healthcare manager and this misunderstanding between young and old will not go away on its own. The problem is really based in how various generations were raised and under which circumstances so the defining world events that occur, so whether it was world war, so like the Vietnam war and then people who were… members of those generations, so the stars that were on TV or in the movies impacts people and then the music that we listen to growing up has an impact. So the each generation becomes its own clique if you will and they have common ways of viewing the world and thinking about the world and when they bump in to someone who has a different opinion and it can create a lot of problems in the workplace. So it’s important for hospitals who are business like any other businesses out there who are recruiting from this talent pool that is from various generations. It’s important that they understand that there can and will be conflict and then how to overcome that conflict so that they can have a more productive workforce and the workforce ultimately that helps to attract new employees. So health care is certainly a field that is impacted by various shortages and so we certainly want to create a work environment where people feel welcome and they see other people that are like them. Very similar to the conversations that we were having many, many years ago about incorporating people with color into health care, if you’re a patient of color, you might like to look up every once in a while and see someone that’s the same color as you. And it’s the same thing for employees, right? You may or may not want to walk if you’re 20 years old, you may or may not want to walk into an organization with all 50 year old people. You may but you may not because again you’re gonna have different kinds of things motivate you as an employee depending on your generation, different things, you’re looking for different things in terms of mentoring. There are different communication styles among the generations, etc.

N: Before we get into a couple of strategies that hospital leaders can use to strengthen this diverse workforce, let’s talk very briefly about the challenge of getting the patient to understand the diversity that they will be facing in that healthcare facility because if I’m hearing you correctly, I would be in error to assume that just because all of my health care professionals working here in this facility on this health care team are all coming together under the banner of the best possible care for the patient and diversity be damned.

C: That’s correct. That’s correct and I would challenge that we can still provide and even better care for the patients if there was a diverse worker working together because each generation brings a different set of skills and expertise to the table that’s ultimately…leverage are going to the patient and the families are gonna benefit in the end.

N: Some of these ideas, mindsets, world views and especially the age aren’t going to change and I’m sure that your consulting efforts and your teaching efforts are meant so that we can all as you say work effectively together toward the end of the best possible health care. Talk about a strategy that a leader at the hospital could use in order to give this diverse workforce to work together.

C: Sure Neal. I think something very, very low-tech and low-cost to that any manager could use who was concerned about this would be a simple inventory or simple questionnaire that they can pull from the web or from texts that are out there on generational diversity. One that I particularly like is by Warren Zemke and others, that’s Zemke. In his book on generations that work, they actually published an inventory that’s entitled How Cross Generationally Friendly is Your Hospital? And it run thru the series of questions that a manager and staff could answer and then it gives you a little scale that tell you how friendly is it to other generations and then perhaps where you might need some work to make it a little bit more friendly for all generations and those you’re gonna be recruiting from different generations into your workplace.

N: Sometimes in a nursing facility or a geriatric care facility there are certain activities that are planned. You say an inventory that can be pulled off the web, do you suggest any at some companies they all do exercises in the morning to get together and kind of warm up. What are we talking about some activities that can kind of pull people together that’s not necessarily in a diversity classroom setting?

C: Yes, it’s actually great. Yeah you don’t have to do it in a classroom necessarily but again in the end various research that’s out there and even common text, things you could get at books and etc. there are some great references on this…where managers could walk through these then…with employees, just to talk in a staff meeting or to bring it to folks’ attention so that they can recognize that there is a dynamic tension between the various generations and that here’s some ways that we can work that thru.

N: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Our guest in studio today has been Mr. Christopher Martorella, he became interested in generational diversity very early in his career, he says that it’s important that leaders understand generational diversity in order to strengthen the workforce and not only strengthen them but get them to work strong together. It’s been great having you here with us today Christopher.

C: Thank you Neal.

N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and also at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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