There’s a shift coming in healthcare — and I’m not talking about the changes upon changes to government regulations, payment structures, and clinical care models. The shift I’m referring to is the shift that will affect each and every person in your healthcare organization whether they know it or not. As Boomers adjust to retired life, and Gen X-ers learn that reality truly does “bite”— there’s a new kid on the block who is changing the face of healthcare: the millennial.
As the fastest growing generation in the workforce, the millennial generation has already made its mark in the workplace, driving initiatives such as work-life balance and wide-ranging technology adoption. They’re also well known as altruistic, opting for careers that make a difference rather than just earning a paycheck.
At the same time, millennials have been accused of having an outsized sense of entitlement and minuscule work ethic. But are those criticisms valid? Not so much. In fact, a Deloitte study tells us that millennials are productive, just in a different way than previous generations. Millennials put a high premium on quality, authenticity and transparency and, unlike their older counterparts, don’t consider money the sole definition of success. It’s not that millennials don’t want to make money, because trust me — we do. (The student loan struggle is very, very real.) But we want to feel like we’re making a difference. We want to make a positive impact on society. In fact, 60% of millennials chose their workplaces in part due to the company’s sense of purpose.
The healthcare industry is undergoing massive change at the moment. The importance of quality has never been higher, and with Medicare providing incentivized reimbursement to healthcare organizations who place a high priority on quality, it’s clear that we’re in the midst of an industry-wide revolution. The marriage of revenue and quality has opened up a unique opportunity for millennials, who are not bound by the financially driven principles of yesteryear. Since millennials are in search of a profession that can help people, healthcare presents the perfect occupation for individuals who want to advance their careers while making a difference in the world.
Of course, the change we’re seeing in the world is two-fold. Millennials have been tagged as job-hoppers, likely because their employers rarely show appreciation for the newer skills that “the young folk” bring to the table. Show millennials that you’re listening to them and respecting their talent, and you can count on better retention.
To effectively recruit and retain the next generation of the healthcare workforce organizations must take the unique millennial mindset into consideration:
- Millennials crave meaningful work and are passionate about helping others. Healthcare organizations should highlight how their services help others and discuss the importance of patient and resident-centered care during the recruiting process. Tools such as behavioral assessment software can help organizations identify the skills possessed by millennials, enabling senior leaders to modify their priorities in this changing work environment.
- Millennials value continual learning and career advancement. Once millennials are on the job, it’s important to provide them with professional development opportunities. Online and blended learning courses are a great way to engage with millennials. Defined career paths and easy access to the education needed to follow those paths are also attractive to younger workers.
- Millennials appreciate frequent feedback on their performance. It’s essential for healthcare organizations to have both formal and informal employee recognition programs in place. Through the use of a performance management system, organizations are are better able to create a culture that values frequent feedback. Encourage managers to regularly document employee behaviors indicative of success and those that suggest areas needing improvement to revisit come performance evaluation time.
- Millennials value coaching and mentoring opportunities. Pairing millennial employees with more senior staff for career coaching is an effective method of keeping young employees engaged. Since millennials are so comfortable with technology, they are willing to reverse mentor older employees on how to use new workplace technologies.
Healthcare organizations who prioritize the integration of millennial values and effectively manage the millennial mindset will find themselves better equipped to build the patient-centered workforce required in the quality-centric state of modern healthcare. Bringing millennials into the healthcare workplace can give them the sense of purpose that they crave. By focusing on talent management process improvement, healthcare organizations will be able to successfully bridge the gap between conventional thinking and the new set of millennial values. The key is speaking their language and trusting that they’ll learn yours.
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