Nurse managers’ perceptions of mentoring in the multigenerational workplace: A qualitative descriptive study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing





First Page


Last Page



Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation


School of Education




Western Australian Nurses Memorial Charitable Trust Grant


Coventry, T., & Hays, A. M. (2021). Nurse managers’ perceptions of mentoring in the multigenerational workplace: A qualitative descriptive study. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 38(2), 34-43. https://doi.org/10.37464/2020.382.230


Objective: To examine how nurse managers in metropolitan healthcare organisations in Western Australia perceive intergenerational mentoring and its place in the contemporary workforce. Background: Mentoring in nursing has benefits for professional career success, new role transition and as a strategy to mitigate negative workplace influences. Study design and methods: A qualitative descriptive study with 20 nurse managers from public and private health services. Face to face semi-structured interviews were held at a neutral location. The interview schedule included 10 questions which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was applied to data to generate themes and present the results. Results: Four main themes were identified: conceptualising mentoring, adding value, influences and support mechanisms, and workforce investment. The nurse managers described the positive and negative aspects of their understanding of intergenerational mentoring practice in the contemporary clinical setting. Discussion: The nurse managers highlighted the importance of life experience in mentoring relationships and how mentoring was generationally bi-directional. As part of everyday nursing practice mentoring was evident despite clinical and organisational challenges. Clear benefits identified were the creation of a positive workforce, promotion of quality patient-centred care, and retention of staff. Mentoring has traditionally occurred face to face however, the recent coronavirus pandemic has provided a catalyst for increasing the use of online mentoring across all generations. Conclusion: The nurse managers were willing to be involved in intergenerational mentoring in either a mentor or mentee role or both. This view of practice occurred throughout the professional work life of nurses with benefits for all generations and the continuity of organisational values. Implications for practice: Mentoring is a practice necessary for promoting best practice in patient care and effective relationships in teams of staff. Consideration of accessibility through e-mentoring could increase involvement and take mentoring forward in the digital age. What is already known about the topic? • Nursing shortages are predicted • There are multiple generations in the nursing workplace which can contribute to issues in communication and workplace harmony • The term mentoring is applied to numerous programs and practices in the contemporary workplace What this paper adds: • Current Western Australian clinical nursing managers perspective on the value of intergenerational mentoring in their workplace • Exploration of intergenerational mentoring as a strategy for retention and succession planning in nursing • Mentoring in action supports the promotion of quality patient-centred care and positive workplace relationships.



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