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May 11, 2023

Part 2:   Solutions to Leading the Younger Generation

Written by the AIHC Volunteer Education Committee   

Please read Part 1: Challenges of Leading the Younger Generation. According to members of AIHC, the retention rate of younger generation employees has become a critical challenge.  This Part 2 article focuses on exploring why younger generation employees struggle in the workplace, why retaining these employees is important and potential solutions to attract and retain the younger generation.

Common complaints from older generations about millennials in the workplace are that they're whiny, entitled, and require too much nurturing. With that being said, millennials do desire engagement from their employers. However, leaders shouldn't mistake this for being too needy.  

Perhaps we can improve the hiring and retention of the younger generation by putting our bias aside for just a moment to gain a better understanding of the issue.

Generation Y and Z Personnel in the Healthcare Setting

What are Generations Y and Z?

According to an article by Beresford Research, the definitions below are based on analysis by the Pew Research Center.  Generation X is anyone born between the years 1965 and 1980, but what about Y and Z?

  • Generation Y (millennials) were born between 1981 and 1996; 
  • Generation Z are people born between 1997 and 2012.

Generation Z, also known as the post-millennial generation or iGeneration, is the first generation to grow up fully immersed in a world dominated by technology, social media, and constant connectivity.

Insight to Why Millennials Struggle in the Workplace

As Generation Z enters the workforce, they are bringing their unique perspectives and expectations.  We need to take time to see their world through their eyes so we can improve how we manage our workforce, and perhaps even learn something from this generation.

What are the characteristics of millennials and Gen Z in the workplace?

We’ve found that there seems to be several common threads that identify millennials’ reasons for leaving a job.  According to the February 19, 2023, article from the Insider “Welcome to Generation Quit,” Generation Z bore the brunt of early 2020 layoffs and job losses and now Generation Z is suffering from lack of mentorship, tenure and stability at a pivotal point in their careers. 

CNBC reports that Generation Z and millennials want to work on their own terms and “are particularly eager to leave some public-facing industries, including health care, retail and education,” according to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and millennial survey.

The table below is a simplistic comparison between millennials and Gen Z:


Generation Z

Want to work toward a purpose

Are motivated by money and job security

More interested in on-going conversations about performance than annual reviews

Require more frequent feedback on their performance

Interest in collaboration and teamwork

Driven by individual performance and competition

One comment made during an AIHC Volunteer Education Committee Meeting is that it is understandable that younger people change jobs frequently.  “Staying at a job 30+ years and retiring with a pension is no longer a guarantee as it was for older generations – this is seen by younger generations as a lack of employer loyalty and commitment and it has resulted in their lack of motivation to want to stay.  Younger generations have seen their parents be forced into retirement or downsized during a merger or acquisition.  Their loyalty lies within themselves and not to a greedy corporation that demonstrates time and time again how unimportant their employees are.”

This may seem “shocking” to seasoned, dedicated management, but it is important to view the optics from the younger generation’s point of view if we are to tackle the problem.

Potential Solutions

Understanding how millennials think, what motivates them in the workplace and what keeps them happy long term is the best way to attract and retain this generation of workers.  Implementing even some of the solutions below will help create a better-balanced workforce, help reduce stress even for your more “seasoned” workaholics and perhaps reduce workforce burnout!

Workplace Environment is Too Rigid or “Robotic”

Work Burnout - 84% of millennials in the workplace who participated in a survey conducted by Deloitte said they’ve felt the effects of burnout at their current job. The top causes were unrealistic expectations for deadlines, lack of recognition, and working too many hours on the weekend. Work cultures that don’t protect their team members from the effects of burnout are likely to see low employee retention rates, poor performance, lack of engagement, and other issues that negatively impact an organization.

  • Notice when a team member is struggling at work and reach out. Leaders who get to know their employees realize when someone is lagging, feeling fatigued, or acting differently than they usually do.
  • Don’t allow PTO to be taken as a “pay-out” – make PTO mandatory each year.

When possible, consider . . .

  • Providing mentorship during the on-boarding / probationary period;
  • Being open to flexible job options like remote work, telecommuting, and generous family leave;
  • Initiating honest conversations around team members’ needs;
    • For example, during one-on-ones, ask team members what you can do to make them feel more engaged and motivated at work.
    • Additionally, brainstorm ideas with them about job perks, benefits, and work terms.
  • Why and when a worker must be in the office;
    • Offer varied shifts where operationally feasible or modified hybrid work schedules;
    • Consider a 4-day work week (everyone on your workforce will benefit and reduce potential burnout);
  • Improving communications and provide reasoning to employees (be more transparent).

Lack of Opportunity for Growth - They’re looking to work with and learn from executives who are constantly seeking to answer the question: “What is leadership, and how do we build a culture of leaders?”

  • According to Gallup, millennials want jobs to be development opportunities, so offer to work on a career development plan that keeps them on track to achieve important milestones as they grow with the company.
  • Help millennials in the workplace set challenging objectives and key performance indicators that push them out of their comfort zone.

Feeling of Being Disengaged and Underappreciated - Not receiving recognition or appreciation for hard work and dedication is one of the top reasons millennials leave their jobs.

  • Be specific about the “what,” “why,” and “how” when showing gratitude and recognition. Let people know the exact ways they help the business thrive.
  • While sharing gratitude is one of the easiest and most effective ways to give employee recognition, researchers from Harvard Business Review found 37% of managers toss positive reinforcement like employee awards or words of affirmation to the side.

Another Company Offers Them a Better Job - Gallup’s study on millennials in the workplace indicates that 60% of those in Generation Y would be open to new job opportunities. 36% of these people plan on finding a job with a new company within the next 12 months.

So many millennials want to leave their current employer due to a lack of engagement tactics and attraction and retention strategies. It’s safe to say that based on these findings, millennials aren’t interested in remaining with companies that don’t tend to their need to feel engaged at work.

So, consider . . .

  • Working to build a strong relationship with employees. This requires time and effort on leaders’ part, but without this investment, team members will feel no reason to be loyal to a business that doesn’t seem to care about them on a professional and personal level.
  • Being intentional about creating a team that people love being a part of. Developing this sense of belonging, fun, excitement, inspiration, and engagement will help group members look forward to work every day.

Know Your Employee Retention Rate

What is a good employee retention rate? You may be surprised at the result!

In general (not health care specific), employee retention rates of 90% or higher are considered good, meaning a company should aim for an average employee turnover rate of 10% or less.

  • National Hospital Turnover Rate - According to Healthcare Finance News, the national hospital turnover rate is 25.9%.  In the past five years, the average hospital turned over 100.5% of its workforce, which is also reported by Becker’s in the Hospital CFO Report of January 3, 2023.

Calculate Your Talent Acquisition Cost

Cost-per-hire - To calculate the cost-per-hire, divide the total recruitment time spent over a given period by the number of new hires.

  • Your recruitment processes have costs associated with them, and you should always be measuring the return-on-investment (ROI) to decide if you’re overspending or underinvesting. When you understand this and can look at trends over time, your organization is in a much better position to adjust course when things aren’t working.

Retention Rate - Employee retention rate calculations provide a point of reference when determining how your organization compares to others.

  • Retention rate is often calculated on an annual basis, dividing the number of employees with one year or more of service by the number of staff in those positions one year ago. Several different formulas can calculate employee retention rate, but a basic formula you can easily use is:
  • (# of employees at the end of a set time period / # of employees at the start of a set time period) x 100 = retention rate percentage.

Summing it all up!

Healthcare providers need to adjust leadership styles to engage the younger generations, which can be a healthy approach to avoid burnout of your workforce in general. 

The younger generations are tech-savvy – which is needed in the ever-evolving technology advancements of medicine, cybersecurity and computer systems required in healthcare.

The healthcare industry has strict compliance requirements that must be met to ensure patient safety, quality of care and confidentiality. As the youngest generation in the workforce, Gen Z may lack experience working in healthcare, which could lead to compliance issues. They may not be familiar with the intricacies of healthcare regulations and more importantly, may not understand the importance of adhering to them.  Healthcare organizations and providers can help bridge this gap by providing proper training and education to Gen Z workers and ensure that Gen Z workers have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality care while adhering to compliance requirements. But the willingness to understand and respect authority and established processes must be present.

It must be a symbiotic relationship - We need the younger generation in our workforce – the youth is our future - we can’t abandon them and they can benefit from our experience and expertise.

This article is written by the Volunteer Education Committee of the American Institute of Healthcare Compliance (AIHC), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.  AIHC appreciates the dedication and expertise of this highly educated group of health care compliance professionals.

Copyright © 2023 American Institute of Healthcare Compliance All Rights Reserved


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