Step aside millennials: Welcome the new kids on the block

By Erica Doherty / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
September 11, 2018

Generation Z is entering the workforce, and they are bound to make a major impact on recruiting, hiring and onboarding practices in the healthcare industry. Maintaining the continuity of patient care allows for no gaps in staffing nor dips in productivity as organizations evolve to meet new workforce expectations. Fortunately, modern software can ease the challenge and facilitate adjustments, helping HR teams respond with agility to generational changes.    

Change happens

In the healthcare industry, HR teams must continually focus on recruiting and onboarding clinical staff, adjusting a variety of tactics, from communicating expectations to keeps employees motivated and engaged, to offering ample growth opportunities. A static HR team will not be able to keep pace with the evolving workforce, and accommodating Generation Z is just one example of the challenges the HR professional faces in today’s fast-changing healthcare landscape.

Gen Z employees are expected to make up 20 percent of the workforce by 2020. While HR professionals have focused extensively on trying to understand the needs and wants of the Millennial generation, now Gen Z brings a new mindset and new set of expectations.   

Some generational experts classify this generation as more ambitious than Millennials, citing that many (55 percent) feel pressure to gain professional experience while in high school, and 75 percent putting a stronger emphasis on starting a career than finding a soul mate. Since this generation grew up between two recessions, they saw their parents lose savings and struggle with stagnant wages. This may influence why they place a high value on careers, financial earnings, and stability.

HR professionals in healthcare have been facing a shortage of skilled workers for some time and know that competition for top recruits is fierce. Understanding the priorities of the next generation will help to tailor recruitment strategies and stress the benefits valued most. So, what are these career-minded Gen Z individuals looking for in a job? Survey results show:

• Meaningful work (75 percent)

• Organizational diversity (75 percent)

• Flexibility/ability to hold multiple roles (75 percent)

• Money/pay (70 percent)

• Opportunity for career growth (64 percent)

• The ability to pursue their passion (46 percent)

• Challenges/excitement (39 percent)

• Honesty/integrity from the employer (38 percent)

Adjusting recruiting tactics is just the beginning. Once a Gen Z candidate is hired, other adjustments will likely be needed to keep the employee engaged and satisfied with their role. For example:

Video training. Generation Z grew up with YouTube, the world’s largest on-demand how-to video library, at their fingertips. This has fostered expectations that their employer will provide onboarding and training content in similar formats. They also expect training opportunities to be ongoing and self-service.

Micro-learning opportunities. Consider providing training in small units and short-term activities delivered in a convenient and accessible manner. Content should be mobile-first and available on-demand, broken into mini-bursts, typically 2-15 minutes in length.

Continuous feedback. Gen Z would rather receive steady feedback rather than one-off, annual reviews. Yet, they are highly opposed to being micromanaged or “watched over” daily, preferring an environment that supports self-directed goals and independent learning.

Organizations can respond to specific workforce management issues—as well as the larger enterprise-wide expectations for connectivity, transparency, ethical conduct, and commitment to supporting social issues. Work conditions, too, will be an important issue for Gen Z, and IT solutions can play a role. Here are nine ways technology can help support the modern workforce and appeal to this group of workers:

User-friendly. Whether on the nursing staff or the billing team, the workforce demands IT solutions that are not only easy to use—but that also support a meaningful, pleasurable experience. IT solutions must be intuitive and allow the user to access data to make informed decisions.

Visibility. Today’s worker wants access to the data they need to make informed decisions. Growing up in the era where they can find answers to any question on their phone, they expect that same type of immediate response in the workplace. Whether it is finding out how many vacation days are available, tracking their own productivity, or preparing financial reports for their business unit, access to relevant data is a high priority. Modern software provides ease of use that supports workforce productivity and helps the employee feel like an engaged contributor.  

Automation. The Gen Z workforce expects digital automation that alleviates routine administrative tasks. No matter what department the recruit joins, they will expect IT functionality to replace tedious tasks. Even entry-level employees have little patience for entering data that can be scanned, or for hand-completing forms, manually checking inventories, looking up data, and filing reports that can be system-generated.

Remote access. Gen Z does not believe in being tied down to a workstation and expects flexibility to work from different environments. That may mean completing reports while sitting in the cafeteria or accessing on-demand training from home. The ability to use mobile solutions is expected.

Self-reliant. Today’s workforce is accustomed to turning to the internet for answers and expects to be able to use online resources. Rather than asking a supervisor for answers to work-related questions, looking up personnel policies to verify departmental procedures or checking recommended best practices for a departmental task, Gen Z workers want all this available at their fingertips, with access to an extensive knowledge base.

Ability to try new roles. While Gen Z is looking for stability, they also want to hold more than one position in an organization. Technology can support lateral and upward growth in many ways. First, software with predictive analytics can help suggest open positions that may be well suited for a person’s aptitudes or interests. Advanced talent science solutions can also identify when a candidate is primed for promotion or when some additional training may help fulfill a performance deficit.

Learning management. IT solutions for learning management can help track and manage a person’s certifications, mastery of specific training or competencies and can queue up training and professional development, so it is there for the employee as needed.

Collaboration and internal communication tools. Gen Z has mastered collective problem solving and finds networking and group sharing the natural way to make decisions. Remember, this is the generation which does not choose a restaurant for lunch without consulting online ratings, asking friends for advice on the menu and broadcasting their choice—with photos—to their social network. Employers should expect this type of “hive mentality” to continue once the individual enters the workforce. Offering internal work-related collaboration tools is a way to encourage the workforce to communicate, seek advice from colleagues, and satisfy the need to stay connected to peers.

Concluding thoughts

Gen Z is quite different from Millennials that have been analyzed and courted for the past decade. Today’s healthcare organization must take an active role in learning the traits of this generation and adapting whenever possible to engage this group of intelligent, serious job seekers. Technology will not only help attract and retain the next generation of workers, but help enterprises fulfill obligations of offering excellent, patient-centric care.  

Erica Doherty is a Human Capital Management Strategist, Infor Healthcare.

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