Health Care Orgs: Stop Obsessing Over Millennials

Millennials in the workforce get a bad rap. They’re entitled, self-absorbed, uncooperative, tech-obsessed, disloyal. They’re motivated by trivial perks (free snacks! massages! Ping-Pong tables!). They demand constant advancement opportunities. Even if you meet all their needs, they probably won’t stay at your organization for very long — or so the story goes.

In health care in particular, millennials are at the center of a growing concern around employee retention. According to a 2016 Advisory Board report, health care turnover rates have increased steadily from 2010–2015. “Many of the staff who are leaving early are under the age of 35 — an age group that makes up nearly one-third of the health care workforce.”

For health care organizations, it’s hard to read statistics like this and notpanic. Many organizations are right now implementing complex multi-pronged retention strategies specifically targeted at pandering to millennials. For its part, Advisory Board lays out 70+ pages of suggestions to help “bolster new hires’ ability to cope with workload,” “embed short-term growth into entry-level roles,” “optimize total rewards for at-risk staff,” and more.

But what if all this HR bluster is misdirected?

Two data points:

  • First, according to the Pew Research Center, millennials actually aren’t switching jobs any more frequently than Generation Xers did when they were the same age. Millennials in general also have higher levels of education, which is associated with longer job tenure.
  • Second, data from the same Advisory Board report suggests that for millennials (unlike other age groups), employee engagement doesn’t necessarily correlate with loyalty in the first three years of a job. So while engagement programs might result in happier millennial employees, it probably won’t prevent them from leaving.

So if engaging millennials won’t help health care organizations lower turnover, what will?

To start, take a step back. Every generation has people who are likely to stay in a given job and people who are not. Instead of focusing on keeping millennial employees around, focus on recruiting the right employees (millennial and otherwise) for your organization’s needs.

Predictive analytics can help achieve this goal. Today, cutting edge data science makes it possible to identify exactly which candidates are the best fit for your organization’s open roles — including who is most likely to stay put for the long haul. An added benefit is that these analytics can be applied to applicants across the board, helping you find not only loyal millennials, but also loyal baby boomers and Gen Xers.

So stop coddling millennials. Instead, use predictive analytics to find inherently loyal employees — and then invest your resources in ensuring that all these workers stay.