They're entrepreneurial, innovative, and eager to lead. Indeed, millennials bring a lot to the table, but they also mystify their employers, including medical practice managers, who often struggle to retain them. To motivate their youngest talent and minimize costly turnover, administrators must provide opportunities to develop their skill set and foster a creative work environment, says Elizabeth Woodcock, an Atlanta-based practice management consultant. "Millennials are not going to be surgery schedulers for 35 years," she says. "That's just not happening. In order to retain them, you have to keep them engaged."
Millennials, born from the early 1980s to early 2000s, will make up roughly 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to research from Deloitte. And according to Kurt Mosley, senior vice president of physician search firm Merritt Hawkins, they are preprogrammed for success in the healthcare field. While older generation providers were often Type A personalities, characterized by ambition and high energy, millennials are largely Type E — empathetic. "E-types are perfect for medicine because they spend more time with patients," says Mosley. "Guess what we're starting to pay on? Patient satisfaction."
Mosley says the easiest way to appeal to Gen Y workers is to offer flexible hours. Having seen their parents and grandparents log 60-hour work weeks, 20- and 30-somethings crave a better work-life balance. A 2015 survey of millennials by RecruitiFi, a crowdsourced online recruiting platform, found more than one-third (39 percent) would consider moving out of a white-collar industry and into blue-collar industries to gain more flexibility. And while 83 percent are aware that job hopping on their resume has the potential to be negatively perceived by prospective employers, 86 percent say it would not prevent them from pursing their professional or personal passions.
Medical practice managers can use this to their advantage. By allowing their employees to clock in early or start their work day an hour later, they not only grant their youngest team members more free time for recreation, but are also able to offer extended access to care, increasingly coveted by patients. "Flexible scheduling is a very easy thing to accommodate," says Mosley, noting one practice he worked with couldn't keep anesthesiologists on their payroll, until exit surveys revealed why. "It turned out they all wanted to cover 10 a.m. to 6 p.m." Beyond that, managers might also reward their best and brightest with paid time off, including Friday half-days in the summer, or more vacation, rather than pay raises alone — though compensation must still be competitive
While the benefits of cross-training have long been clear to administrators, the practice of teaching staff members to perform multiple jobs pays even greater dividends where millennials are concerned. It keeps them interested, pacifies their desire to learn, and fosters a deeper respect among coworkers. Another perk? When employees are trained to wear multiple hats, your office is less likely to come unglued when a team member unexpectedly calls in sick. "Instead of everyone working in silos, figure out how to diversify your job functions," says Woodcock. Why not institute a rotation with your medical assistants and train them to do clinical rooming as well as scheduling, she asks. "That blows some people's minds, but scheduling is already part of the curriculum for most medical assistant programs," says Woodcock. "That's the kind of engagement that millennials need."