Healthcare Recruitment Strategies for Attracting Millennials and Generation Z

Marketing Director

Millennials now make up the largest proportion of the American workforce, at 35 percent. And Generation Z, people born after 1996, represents another massive wave that has begun joining the workforce. There are an estimated 61 million members of Gen Z — bigger than Generation X and two-thirds the size of the baby boomers’ population.

For healthcare employers, a shortage of skilled workers means attracting workers from these younger age groups is particularly important. And younger workers are drawn to healthcare. For example, a study found that millennials are 60 percent more likely to become registered nurses than members of Generation X are.

But the competition for these workers is stiff. “Healthcare employers are all looking for the same talent,” says Robin Erickson, Principal Researcher at the Conference Board.

Here’s how healthcare employers can stand out from the crowd and do a better job recruiting millennials and members of Generation Z.

Remember That They Want Social Purpose and Mobility

Millennials and members of Generation Z want workplaces with a social purpose. “The good news for healthcare is that millennials are very corporate-socially responsible,” Erickson says. “They care about the mission. They care about the fact that their organization is impacting the community.”

But they also value growth and mobility in their work environment. Healthcare recruitment is sometimes too focused on technical skills and qualifications. To attract younger workers, you need to show candidates that they will have opportunities to grow beyond their current skill levels. “Make internal talent mobility clear to employees,” Erickson says. 

Atif Siddiqi, CEO of Branch Messenger, which provides workforce management technology for industries with hourly shift workers, says offering development opportunities is crucial. “Healthcare employers need to provide a path where candidates know they can continue to learn and develop their skill sets,” Siddiqi says.

Be Flexible About Flexibility

Millennials and members of Gen Z want real flexibility when it comes to their work life. “A lot of companies are using technology to provide more flexibility for scheduling practices,” Siddiqi says. On-demand staffing — where employees can select the times that work best for them — is particularly attractive in the healthcare industry.

But if healthcare recruiters really want to attract top talent, they need to think outside the box when it comes to flexibility.

Same-day payment and wages is a trend in healthcare and other industries with a high number of hourly workers. “The traditional two-week pay schedule is a little antiquated,” Siddiqi says. “Consumers have started to expect money to be able to be transferred more quickly. They feel like it should arrive sooner than two weeks.”

In the age of Venmo and PayPal, millennials and Generation Z workers want their pay to be just as flexible — and fast.

Know That It’s Not (All) About Pay

“Intuitively we’d think increasing wages would lead to better candidate pools, but oftentimes what we find is that there are other things employers can do rather than increasing pay that really attract the best talent — such as focusing on growth, flexibility and company culture,” Siddiqi says.

Millennials and Generation Z workers tend to value other things — social purpose, work-life balance, culture fit — more than money. In fact, one survey suggests, some millennials would take significantly less pay to “work somewhere where there’s career development, their work is purposeful and there’s a better work-life balance,” Siddiqi says.

But that doesn’t mean that pay isn’t a factor at all. Millennials and Gen Z workers are also more likely to be savvy about researching salaries. “Candidates have never been more well-informed,” Erickson says. “Organizations have to be incredibly concerned about what image they have. What do their Glassdoor scores say? Maybe paying at the middle of the salary band isn't good enough anymore.”

But most importantly, healthcare companies need to think about the big picture. “What are organizations doing to differentiate themselves from their competitors?” Erickson says.

Make Retention a Major Priority

“Recruitment and retention are two sides of the same coin. Companies wouldn’t have as big a problem with recruitment if people weren’t moving around as much as they are,” Erickson says. This is particularly an issue with millennials and Gen Z workers, who reportedly are three times more likely to change jobs than baby boomers have been.

The solution is seeing recruitment and retention efforts as part of the same process. If you can retain more employees by offering them an attractive value proposition, recruitment becomes less of an issue.

“What ties them together is that employee experience or that employer brand,” Erickson says. Healthcare employers that focus on offering a compelling employee experience and a brand that appeals to younger workers’ values will have a leg up in the fierce competition for talent.

Ultimately, even if you understand what millennials and Gen Z workers want, you have to communicate your value proposition to them. That starts with a robust recruitment program focused on illustrating the value you can offer.

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