By Brian Barajas
Millennials (generally considered to be those born from the mid-1980s to around 2005) have made a name for themselves in the workplace. They’re already done with their first (and maybe even second or third) job and may be starting to look for new opportunities. If you have high-performing millennial employees at your healthcare organization, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking smart steps to keep them engaged and interested.
“In general, healthcare organizations are great at getting stuff done,” says Addam Marcotte, Vice President of Organization Development at FMG Leading. “Unfortunately, they are moving so quickly that they don’t often take the time required to engage internal staff and help connect their day-to-day to the larger vision of the organization.”
Engaging millennials and developing them to take on bigger roles can help you retain them more effectively. Here are some tips to make it happen.
Clarify Your Brand
A strong corporate brand communicates what your organization is about and can give millennials an idea about the future of the organization. “Millennials want to be part of groups that have an impact not only on the organization but on society as a whole,” says Todd Spohn, Director of Health Care with Talent Plus Inc. To keep them engaged and motivated, the company must be able to communicate what drives the organization to accomplish its mission.
Connect Work to Mission
One of the drivers of engagement is feeling like your work matters to the company’s overall mission. Healthcare employers often have an advantage because of their clear-cut missions, and employees tend to be drawn to the field because of an intrinsic desire to serve and “do good,” Marcotte says. “But without the overt and intentional connection by leadership to the organization’s compelling purpose, those employees could easily go do the same job elsewhere,” he says. Healthcare employers must help millennials understand what is unique about a particular organization and why their specific jobs matter in serving the broader population.
Highlight Patient Experience
Chances are your organization is focusing more on the patient experience as a result of changing reimbursement policies. Many healthcare employers are gaining traction in boosting their employee engagement by linking individual job purpose to patient experience, Marcotte says. “This is a vital way healthcare employers can help make the connection of the individual to the patient, even those that don’t directly care for patients, such as business support services.”
Train managers to communicate with employees about how every position supports the patient experience. It’s a given with direct care employees, but people in other departments may need a clearer connection.
Providing employees with opportunities to grow and advance in their careers will help them feel like they have a future at the organization, which is a driver of engagement.
Organizations must have a talent mobility strategy that allows employees to develop, grow and stay engaged. Employees can “plateau” in their work after about two to three years, Marcotte says, and millennials may do so even sooner than that. Adding responsibilities, offering specific skills training, encouraging job rotation or cross-training, attending networking or professional conferences, working in collaborative groups or shared projects and so on can all help, he says.
Give them opportunities to continuously learn and grow through peer learning and mentorships, says Laura Poisson, President at ClearRock, a career transition and executive coaching firm. Formal competency-based training and experiential learning can help, as well. “In the healthcare industry, as with others, millennials will change jobs much more frequently than the workforce prior to them,” she says. “Organizations will have to get very good at leveraging the talent they have, for the short time they have it, and make sure that they have a strong corporate brand to continue to attract bright, new talent.”