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Millennials in Healthcare

The times are changing  –  and healthcare managers need to get with the times.

How would you like to have employees who:

  • Crave meaningful work and passionate about helping others;
  • Seek and respond well to constructive feedback;
  • Embrace training and mentoring to advance their careers; and
  • Creatively apply technology in the workplace?

If your answer is “yes”, you have just accepted the profile of the single largest segment of the workforce – Millennials. What’s not to like?!

This generation has now surpassed the Boomers and projected to be fully half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Also known as Gen Y, this generation born between 1980 and 2000 will escalate to 75% status by 2030.

Health care providers take notice! This generation will have impact on the workplace for decades to come and that includes the healthcare industry.

There are 4 key elements that have broad application in the profile of Millennials. Health care management has an even more pressing sense of urgency to understand and respond to the priorities of this increasingly dominant generation in the workforce. Understanding and willingness to respond to their unique expectations, desires and motivations is increasingly essential to maximize productivity, enhance retention of star players and attract new talent.

Crave Meaningful Work and Passionate About Helping Others

What profession other than health care provides the opportunity to help others through meaningful, often lifesaving, work? Millennials are tuned in to that and clearly register a particularly high interest in healthcare as a career choice. In fact, a 2017 survey by the National Society of High School Scholars reveals that when asked which fields they expect to work in, respondents placed healthcare as number one. In an earlier survey, 40% of respondents responded similarly.

When presented with 14 factors they might consider when choosing whether to work for an organization, Millennials featured in the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016 ranked a “Sense of Meaning in My Work” as the fourth most important. Clearly, they don’t consider the size of their paycheck as the sole definition of success. Rest assured, money is high on the list, but tempered by the need to feel they are making a difference.

Since Millennials seek to help people, health care presents an ideal occupation to advance their careers while knowing they are making the world a better place. That, coupled with the increasing emphasis on quality in healthcare delivery, is a double attraction to this generation.

Seek and Respond Well to Constructive Feedback on Their Performance

Millennials are particularly receptive to honest and frequent feedback. Health care managers who provide constructive guidance with specific action plans and praise will be pleased with the enhanced performance of Gen Y workers. Additionally, feedback is perceived as a manager’s recognition for a job well done and direction on areas to improve. Both demonstrate a human concern and caring for the worker’s welfare.

Two young medical workers are listening to senior doctor with attention. They are making notes and smiling

No less an authority than Gallup concluded that employees are most engaged and perform best on the job when their managers focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

The stats are that 67 percent of employees are engaged when their managers encourage them to apply their strengths … in contrast to only 2 percent when managers focus on their weaknesses.

Note to Managers: Here’s a revealing slideshow highlighting twelve phrases to avoid when providing feedback to Millennials to enhance the effectiveness of your feedback.

Embrace Training and Mentoring to Advance Their Careers

A recent Gallup survey found that 87 percent of Millennials cite professional development or career growth opportunities as “very important” to them in a job. A combination of online and blended learning programs are an excellent way to provide education needed to hone the skills needed to advance in their chosen career path.

Notably, Millennials are very receptive to assistance from senior staff. Some interesting results from research done at University of North Carolina reveals that 75% of Millennials want a mentor; and 58% prefer seeking guidance from Boomers. As proof of this undercurrent of Millennials seeking growth, 65% of surveyed Boomers report being asked for help by Millennials.

Here’s an actionable question to bring to bear: How can the following executive summary observation in the Deloitte study benefit everyone at your healthcare facility, not just the Millennials?

“We have observed that loyalty to an employer is driven by understanding and support of Millennials’ career and life ambitions, as well as providing opportunities to progress and become leaders. Having a mentor is incredibly powerful in this regard.”

A perfect example is the finding in the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016 that employees with active mentors describe the quality of advice at 94% and the level of interest shown in their development at 91%.

Creatively Apply Technology in the Workplace

A study published by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) includes insights from more than 1,200 professionals across generations and industries about the strengths and weaknesses of workers from different generations. Millennials ranked at the top of the list as the most tech-savvy.

Gen Y is the first generation nurtured on using the internet and mobile devices. Technology is part of their DNA, both personally and professionally. Their expectations are to have job related access to interconnected technology. They dislike meetings and prefer communicating via voice mail, e-mail and preferably text.

How employers permit the use of technology is a major factor in Millennials’ perception of an ideal workplace. Among the chief concerns to senior management, IT professionals and Millennials is the issue of BYOD – Bring Your Own Device for use on the job. Millennials expect BYOD as an entitlement … not a banned resource.

From the perspective of management, BYOD raises a series of questions and risks relating to company data storage, security, employee accountability and privacy. That said, the fact is that banning BYOD use is likely to be futile … they are going to do it anyway. So don’t fight it, manage it.

As our frame of reference, take a look at three significant elements in the profile of Millennials, supported by a Halogen Software study.

  • Millennials Are Multi-taskers. Uniquely, they don’t require a linear approach to job performance. Millennials are adept at switching from project to project, including swapping out one device for another.
  • Most Millennials expect to be available as needed by employers As needs arise, that includes the ability to work from home to enhance work-life balance, while still getting the job done.
  • Millennials do not have an “Off” switch. That means they maintain 24/7 access to their communication devices to enable work or personal issues to be addressed.

These three realities, clearly point to the need to proactively plan and execute a strong BYOD program that will be supported by employees of this generation who seek flexibility as well as responsibility to maximize their productivity and sense of accomplishment.
So health care management and IT professionals are challenged to implement security solutions that simultaneously protect data and enable an increasingly mobile workforce to perform effectively.

Recognizing what turns Millennials on can help health care managers tailor their message for maximum success on the job. To work effectively and efficiently, to increase productivity and quality … understanding the unique generational characteristics of this dominant group in the workforce is critical to effectively deal with each Gen Y individual.

Millennials will persist as the dominant generation of workers for at least a decade. Knowledge of the priorities cherished by Gen Y will help health care employers strengthen the attraction, engagement and retention of quality talent.