There’s no shortage of negative stereotypes for Generation Y (aka millennials), from lazy to vain to entitled. But stereotypes may be a handicap to employers, not to millennials, and could prevent organizations from investing fully in a generation that is tech-savvy, educated, and socially conscious, according to Pew Research.
Witt/Kieffer consultant Michelle Lee is tuned into the strengths of millennials: “I find them to be quite engaged and interested in contributing. They just have a different approach,” says Lee in a recent article published by HealthLeaders Media and written by Lena J. Weiner.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts millennials will outnumber baby boomers in the workforce by next year. This will shake up every industry, especially healthcare where one in three physicians is over the age of 50, and one in four is over 60.
One of the biggest factors to consider regarding millennials is retention. According to BLS, 70 percent of millennials leave their first job within two years. With this trend likely to continue, Lee and Weiner share several strategies for understanding and retaining millennials.
1. Allow for Customization. This generation has had the ability to customize everything in their day-to-day lives, and they don’t expect that to stop when they hit the working world. Flexibility trumps tradition and even pay: “Millennials demand flexibility,” the article notes —89% say they would prefer to choose when and where they work rather than being traditional nine-to-fivers. Perhaps surprising to the C-suite, 45% value workplace flexibility more than pay. Weiner argues that companies must allow millennials room to be creative, to wear jeans on occasion, and even, perhaps one day, design their own schedules.
2. Diversity and Egalitarian Teams. “Retention strategies should be more focused on exposing [millennials] to as many opportunities to learn and grow and work in different environments within both diverse cultures and with different team dynamics,” urges Lee. “They seem to be comfortable with, and even enjoy change, and take issue with stagnation or the status quo.”
3. Feedback, Feedback, Feedback. “They still want to know how and where they fit in,” says Lee. “Most millennials are still fairly new in their roles and want reassurance that they’re doing their job right.” Gen Y wants more consistent feedback and space to ask questions. And “the way the feedback is presented is important,” says Lee. A harsh and hierarchical approach won’t do a company any favors.
Healthcare and other industries are undergoing major transformations – including a shifting demographic profile of the workforce. HR leaders and executives who recognize this change and prepare now with a focus on flexibility, openness, and feedback will win out when it comes to finding the right employees and executives for tomorrow. In other words, when thinking about future talent and human capital, the rise of the millennials should be seen as the solution rather than the problem.
By Brianna Scharfenberg, Communications Assistant (and card-carrying millennial)