How to attract and retain millennial healthcare workers

By Darren Bounds / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
April 15, 2019

Over the next 10 years, the workplace will experience one of its biggest shake-ups ever. As Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s edge into retirement, millennials are waiting in the wings to take over. According to a report by the Governance Studies at Brookings, by 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the entire U.S. workforce.

For recruiters and hiring managers in the notoriously tight healthcare market, it’s a whole new game. Here’s a quick play-by-play to help you win the talent you need.

How are millennial employees different?
When we first encountered them, millennials were little more than broke grads still living with their parents. Despite their reputation as the “snowflake generation”, millennials are actually ambitious, hardworking, knowledge-hungry and social media savvy. But as they begin to settle down and start families, millennials’ priorities are changing.

For the healthcare industry — which is facing its own extreme makeover at the hands of disruptive tech — the pressure to reach millennials is real. Suddenly, healthcare companies need to step up their game and not only attract this core talent group, but also find ways to keep them loyal.

Become a millennial-friendly employer brand
More than any previous generation, millennials are driven by social consciousness — they value purpose and meaning. According to a Gallup report, 59 percent of millennials say the opportunity to learn and grow is extremely important to them when applying for a job.

That doesn’t mean they don’t care about money — they do. But in the words of Brandon Rigone in the Harvard Business Review, “Ultimately, millennials are consumers of the workplace. They shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals. More than ever, employers need to know and act on the factors that make their company appealing to these candidates. They have to make it easy for prospects to choose them over their competition.”

So how can healthcare businesses beat the competition and score awesome millennial talent? Let’s break it down.

Step 1 — Get over your millennial biases
Don’t be fooled by the stereotype that all millennials want to work in an office with ping pong tables and Connect Four break-out booths. Sure, that stuff is fun, but it fuels a certain stereotype that’s not quite true.

What really matters to millennials is a transparent, open and honest working environment. One where they can be who they are and know where they stand.

Millennials aren’t just interested in what their managers think about them, they value the opinions of their peers, too. Consider what’s special about your management structures, performance reviews, and career development opportunities. These cultural factors are what matter most to millennials.

Step 2 — Create a clear career path forward
Millennials are known for being ambitious. In fact, Gallup found that 87 percent of millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. They want to sharpen their skills, have access to training, and see a career trajectory that takes them into management and leadership roles.

Step 3 — Position your employer brand
Once you’ve got the above points nailed, you’ve essentially knocked out two talent management birds with the same stone. You have what you need to both attract and retain millennial employees.

Now, it’s time to spread the word.

It’s essential that your employer brand is clearly aligned with millennial values. Jason Dorsey, co-founder and millennial researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics, believes the prevailing challenge for children’s hospitals is their ability (or lack thereof) to recruit millennial employees.

Faced with many misconceptions about what kind of working environment they offer, Dorsey suggests, “sharing behind-the-scenes videos talking to the culture, how you’re involved in the community and playing up the human side…

Whether you’re a children’s hospital or a healthcare equipment manufacturer, every healthcare business is a human-focused business. Use the inherent importance of your mission to build a real connection with millennial candidates.

Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

      Does your social media presence reflect your commitment to your mission?

      Is your website compelling and easy to navigate?

      What’s your Glassdoor rating? How can you improve it?

Sometimes the best ideas come from other industries. If you need a little more inspiration, check out the techniques used by these awesomely effective employer brands.

Step 4 — Optimize for candidate experience
This may be the final step, but it should definitely be at the top of your list.

First impressions matter. And in the cutthroat world of healthcare hiring, candidate experience could be the one thing that entices someone to accept your offer over your competitor’s.

A clunky, outdated hiring process is going to set off alarm bells for tech-savvy millennials, and a lip-service mission statement is definitely going to trigger their BS radar.

Here a few areas you may want to improve:

      Technology. This is your gateway, so make the most of it. Tools like custom career sites, video interviews, and automated scheduling make it clear to candidates that, like them, you’re bullish on tech.

      Meet your candidates where they are. Use SMS, video and remote work opportunities to make the recruitment process feel easy, natural and fun.

      Ditch the old pathway of job-boards-to-job-hire and embrace incentivized employee referral programs, targeted sourcing techniques and long-term candidate nurture to both broaden and deepen your talent pools.

For an industry facing severe staff shortages and high competition for talent, a rock-solid millennial recruitment strategy is crucial to staying ahead of the game. Show them you care more than the other guy, and you’ll have no problem winning them over.

Darren Bounds is the CEO and Founder of Breezy HR, an applicant tracking system.

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