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Hospitals Ignore the Millennial Workforce at Their Own Peril

by Luis Castillo on Nov 15, 2017

With millennials blanketing the workforce and Generation Z right around the corner, hospitals have a choice: accommodate the needs of the younger generation or miss out on the best and brightest minds in the healthcare industry. 

Loyalty in healthcare isn’t what it used to be. 

As a matter of fact, loyalty isn’t what it used to be in any industry, and that’s a big problem for companies. Millennial-Employees.jpeg

The Advisory Board lists one example that should be startling for anyone concerned about developing and retaining their workforce. They estimate the total cost of losing a single nurse, a single nurse, to be $90,000. Now, take that number and multiple it by your own turnover rate, nursing-related or otherwise. That cost gets really steep really fast.

(The Huffington Post has posted a basic formula on employee turnover that you can use to more closely calculate your own estimated costs.)

These are the kinds of numbers that should cause anyone to stand up and take notice, particularly when you consider the lack of loyalty in the current workforce. 

Here’s the other thing to note: turnover and employee disloyalty is not all about wages. In fact, while take home pay is certainly important in the grand scheme of keeping healthcare workers your healthcare workers, an array of other factors can actually end up having a much more perilous effect on your ability to retain top talent.

Here’s how to make sure you’re equipped to hang on to the best and brightest at your organization. 

Perks and Education Benefits

We’ve been seeing a lot of companies, particularly in the tech sector, where competition for talent is as stiff as it’s ever been, rethinking traditional benefits. As a result, they’re coming up with some great perks that don’t cost as much as you might think. 

Health, dental and vision insurance are certainly still important, as are education benefits that encourage team members to pursue advanced degrees that will let them move up in your organization. 

But what about paying off your employees’ student loan debts? Consider that young adults are saddled with debt in record numbers. The average cost of tuition plus room and board and all other assorted fees has skyrocketed, and that’s especially true in the healthcare sector, where debt levels can reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the degree. 

Want to retain the millennial workforce? Don’t just pay for them to go to school; pay down the monthly debts they already possess.

This is only the beginning of perks that can attract great workers and keep them at your company. Ride share programs and other “green” initiatives can have a big impact. Some organizations have gotten rid of accrued vacation time altogether, instead putting unlimited vacation on the plate so long as workers plan ahead and get their work done. Employee recognition programs complete with awards events can also be helpful, although you’ll want to take steps to make sure the non-winners don’t feel like losers. 

Creative benefits are something we take seriously at Ensocare too. Each of our employees gets time off to volunteer, what we call VTO. We host events throughout the year for our team, have a dedicated wellness program, a charitable committee and a casual dress code, something that works surprisingly well to lure and keep millennial workers.

Trust us: these kinds of things pay dividends, and they don’t cost your facility a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

Modern Technology

Modern Technology

Many millennials who enter the healthcare workforce may feel like they’ve entered a time warp. Physicians still use pagers, interior design hasn’t been updated since the Reagan administration, and they’re expected to use a fax machine to send Protected Health Information.

Consider the hospital still using a fax machine to transmit patient data. You’re setting a nurse in his or her 20s or 30s in front of a machine they’ve never used and asking them to remain stationed there for what could be hours at a time. They’re losing productivity, and they’re never, ever going to understand your reasoning for still using the fax, no matter how logical it may seem. In their minds, it should be all email, all the time, and you can’t fault them for this thinking, because in every other industry, communication via email and/or instant messaging is standard.

In many cases, it’s the cost of upgrading that keeps healthcare organizations from investing. But as we’ve demonstrated before, this way of thinking can end up costing a lot more in the long run than just biting the bullet and making the upgrade. 

Add up the cost of lost productivity from relying on an antiquated technology, plus the eventual turnover cost of an individual leaving for greener pastures where they don’t have to fax all day, and it’s costing you far more money than if you’d invested in tech that gets you away from the older tech altogether.

You need to set up a workplace that meets the expectations of your incoming workforce. That means ditching fax machines and embracing e-communication. It means automating those tasks that can be automated, such as patient discharge and transfer between departments. It means investing in top cybersecurity so that your employees can get Push notifications on their phones if they’ll be called in for a shift or if a patient has called for a nurse. 

The modern era offers so many opportunities for hospitals to do really innovative things with tech. These are a baseline expectation, not a value add, and putting them into place will more than earn back its cost for your facility.

Wellness Initiatives

Healthcare can be a notoriously brutal industry for the human body. Many of you no doubt work shifts of 12 hours or more, often at night, in order to provide care. It’s a high-stress environment, many workers eat on the go (which means vending machines and junk food), and the act of lifting patients and medical equipment can create serious strain that leads to serious injury.

It’s vital that you invest heavily in wellness initiatives at your facility. The millennial workforce is attuned to health, and you need to meet them there if you want to retain your best people.

Does your hospital have an on-site fitness facility just for employees, or an area you could convert to one? Do you offer to pay for gym memberships? Do you have just as many healthy options in a vending machine as unhealthy ones? Do you offer education geared toward reducing stress, healthy eating, the importance of sleep, and more? 

These sorts of wellness initiatives really make a difference when it comes to retention, and they’re something you need to consider. 

Rethinking Old Habits and Workflows

It’s a brand new day in healthcare. Those organizations willing to get as creative in the employee experience as they are in providing an optimal patient experience will be the ones that thrive. 

Healthcare is facing a real workforce problem. Nursing gets a large share of the publicity, but it’s something that’s affecting all corners of our industry. Hospitals need to become more tech-savvy, more communicative, more employee-oriented than they’ve ever been before. 

It’s not enough to expect employees to get onboard with the current plan. The field is simply too competitive. Instead, you need to meet their expectations, with tech-based solutions and innovative HR policies that will retain even the most demanding employee. 

Kids these days, amiright?

How much can your organization save with automated discharge technology? Calculate your ROI.

Meet the Author

Luis Castillo has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare information technology. Prior to joining Ensocare, Castillo served as senior vice president at Siemens Healthcare, where he was in charge of IT sales, service and marketing. He was responsible for developing alternate markets, sales strategies and sales channels in order to grow the healthcare information technology business. Luis’ broad and deep experience has served to hone his leadership skills and business acumen, and he is a sought-after participant in strategic initiatives and global partnership efforts. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Haverford College in Haverford, Penn.

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