My grandparents lived and worked in a different world than we do today. And, as professionals in our early and mid-30s, my millennial friends and I cannot even fathom what the workplace and the employer-employee relationship used to look like — before smartphones and leggings, and when “because I said so” was an acceptable answer to an employee’s question.
Things in our world, both personally and professionally, have changed drastically in the last 20 years and today the employer-employee relationship is very different than it used to be. By 2020, millennials will outnumber baby boomers and Gen X combined in the workplace, potentially creating more pushback by the younger cohort. And, with so many organizations and industries hiring today, healthcare included, new hires have much more power than employers may like.
While this pushback can be frustrating for managers who painstakingly waited their turn and paid their dues, millennials who do push back against “old ways of doing things” should be viewed as helpful, not as hinderances. After all, isn’t what they’re asking for — flexibility, a voice, more appreciation, etc. — what ALL employees want?
We all know how valuable constructive feedback can be from someone who cares about you, like a mentor, so we treat it as a “gift” that allows us to see their evolving reactions and adjust over time for them. Why not see employee pushback and recommendations for change in the same light? Once we consider employees as our internal customers with whom we must evolve with to retain, it immediately changes the way we perceive their pushback.
We need to retain our new hires longer, so we must ensure managers and supervisors at all levels are effective communicators. Their staff probably were not raised like they were, so it is critical that leaders communicate their expectations clearly to staff. It’s not enough to say, “Go clean up Mrs. Johnson’s room” to a new hire. “Clean up” is a relative command that each employee will view differently, and it’s sure to lead to a missed expectation when that new hire does not clean the room in the way the supervisor expected. Expectations and requests must be more clearly defined than ever before, because it’s unreasonable to expect staff to read their managers’ minds. And it’s not common sense to know “how it’s always been done” when someone is new – they do not know what you want.
To improve employee retention, work to shift the mindset of your leaders, managers, and front-line supervisors to understand today’s workforce, and ensure they have the right training to effectively communicate with their employees. Good communication starts on day one, and sometimes even before. Be sure you have onboarding geared toward millennials, and have new hires sign off on their job descriptions. This will give both the new employee and their manager a common understanding of expectations for the role. Building strong, positive, genuine relationships with staff is the best way to extend the tenure of new hires, which will reduce employee turnover over time.
Remember, the one-size-fits-all model for staffing and leadership no longer works, so organizations must encourage their managers to understand what their ever-changing internal customers are looking for in an employer and continue evolving to become a place where people want to work.
Learn how to slow the revolving door of healthcare talent and retain your staff.