Disclaimer: The content of this post is based on commonly accepted generational stereotypes and may or may not apply to individuals in your NICU.

If you manage a team of neonatal nurses, chances are you’ve got a few millennials in the bunch.

Technically speaking, what is a millennial?

Today’s millennials were born after 1982; they’re 35 or younger and their presence in the workforce is rapidly growing. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, millennials now make up the majority of the workers in the United States. By 2030, they will account for 75 percent of the working population. So, get ready—in the coming years, your nursing unit will rely heavily on millennials to make up for the industry’s retiring baby boomers (born between 1948 and 1964) and Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1981).

Millennial stereotypes

Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials.

Each generation comes with unique stereotypes. Perhaps you’ve already noticed ways millennials tend to distinguish themselves from their more seasoned work partners.

Growing up, many millennials received a high level of care and attention, both at home and in the classroom. Consequently, they may expect more than the average amount of individual feedback, reinforcement, and mentoring at work (more so than their Gen Xer and boomer colleagues).

We can thank baby boomers for inventing the term “workaholic.” Boomers deconstructed the ubiquitous 9 to 5 paradigm, opting to work all hours in order to climb the proverbial ladder. Conversely, millennials demand a proper ratio of work to personal time in their lives. They question the ubiquitous and then change it. They expect to love what they do for a living and are reluctant to settle for less.

Positive stereotypes

  • Millennials are, unquestionably, the most tech-savvy generation in the workforce today, which is a huge asset in a constantly evolving, technological world. As early adopters, they are natural technological pioneers, often helping to teach others.
  • Millennials are optimistic and up for most any challenge. They want jobs that are socially meaningful and seek out institutions and facilities committed to making a positive impact on society.
  • Millennials bring a multitude of positive qualities to nursing: They are quick on their feet and adept at multitasking. They are smart and able to process information quickly. These are great skills for a neonatal nurse.

Negative stereotypes

  • Millennials may be over-sensitive and egocentric. Tendencies can include missing deadlines and becoming devastated when faced with negative consequences. They may challenge the effectiveness of every assignment yet demand to be closely mentored.

Over the years, millennials have endured many negative stereotypes: That they’re entitled, need constant praise and promotion, are self-absorbed, shameless, pandered to, careless, selfish and lazy.

However, it’s important to remember that these are just stereotypes. While they may help you to deconstruct generational tendencies, they are not necessarily the tendencies of your millennial staff. Millennials have a lot to contribute as neonatal nurse practitioners. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to understand this unique generation and devise a way to mentor them, while maintaining a well-integrated and cohesive work team.

Millennials as neonatal nurse practitioners

Millennials bring a multitude of positive qualities to nursing and will galvanize our profession into the future. They will demand to be present for important discussions and have a stake in the development of health policies and achievements.

Here are five quick tips for managing millennials while maintaining balance throughout your entire team.

1. Invest in up-to-date technology and equipment

Millennials grew up in the digital age and are accustomed to using the latest technology. They will have little patience for slow or outdated equipment; they will push for streamlined, modern technology to make their work more efficient.

2. Create a positive work-life balance

Young nurses want a workplace that offers flexibility to accommodate life’s unpredictability. They expect to have PTO and the ability to adjust their hours when necessary. The landscape of our workforce is changing across the country; U.S. employers are instituting policies that more closely mirror those of Europe’s more modern business models.  It’s vital that you keep the pace and give all employees a better work-life balance.

3. Nurture trust

Millennial workers are fiercely independent and want to find their own way. Show your staff you trust them to make their own decisions; this will go a long way toward bolstering confidence and igniting creativity. If you micromanage young nurses, they’re more likely to pull away and look elsewhere for career advancements.

4. Give and receive feedback

Millennials are big on getting feedback; they enjoy in-person contact and guidance from their managers. Solicit input from your team on a regular basis.  Whenever possible, show that you listened by taking action and making improvements based on their concerns and suggestions. Even little changes will help build employee trust.

5. Mentor your employees and focus on development

Millennials are driven by their goals and actions; they want ownership over projects and many aspire to be leaders themselves. Pair each new employee with a dedicated preceptor to provide job mentoring and continued support into their tenure.

While these steps will require effort, they will ultimately transform your staff – baby boomers and Gen Xers included—so they feel more valued and recognized. And that’s a good thing.


Every generation has its own trends and stereotypes, but at the end of the day, a good manager works to understand the individuals on his/her team. Personality testing, understanding different learning styles, team building exercises, and regular performance reviews are ways to strengthen your entire team and to discover the strengths and weaknesses of individuals, regardless of generational gaps.

Good managers realize that each team member has their own unique motivation buttons, be they boomer, Xers or millennials. It’s up to you to find out what they are and how to leverage them. We hope this information assists you in better understanding the typical millennial so that you can reach into your bag of tricks to bring out the best they have to offer.

What is your experience working with, or managing, millennials? Share your thoughts in comments below!

Locum Tenens NNP Placement