How Healthcare Organizations Can Attract a Multi-Generational Workforce
Today’s workforce is more age-diverse than ever before. Age is often the forgotten demographic, but maintaining workforce diversity means hiring multi-generational employees. Research has shown that a successful workforce reflects the demographics of its client base, and few professions interact with as diverse a set of age groups as the healthcare profession.
So what can your organization do to attract and retain multi-generational talent?
“It has to start with assessing your team,” says Katherine Kelton, General Counsel and Chief People Officer at StayWell. “Hiring managers may not be trained to consider age when hiring. Emphasize the need for a well-rounded, diverse staff.”
Here are three ways to attract and accommodate multi-generational talent at your healthcare organization.
Be Inclusive in Attracting and Hiring Talent
Having a multi-generational workforce starts pre-hire. Remember to keep job descriptions accessible across generations. For example, many aspects of healthcare can be very physical (lifting, standing, walking, long hours, etc.). These activities may be harder for an older hire, but this doesn’t mean that someone in their 40s or 50s can’t contribute value in other ways.
Older employees, for example, tend to be more efficient in communicating with older patients. “There’s a counter-trend in hiring healthcare professionals who are older and have more experience communicating with individuals in different age groups,” says Phyllis Weiss Haserot, author of “You Can’t Google It: The Compelling Case for Cross-Generational Conversation at Work.” When hiring in your healthcare organization, focus more on the value someone brings over what they may not be able to do.
During the interview process, express to candidates that they will be expected to interact with multi-generational teams as well as a multi-generational patient population. Onboarding should include ways to communicate and work effectively with employees (and patients) of all ages.
Establish Patterns of Mutual Mentoring
Employees from each generation bring different strengths to your healthcare practice. Leverage your employees’ age-diversity to eliminate weak spots. Older employees may not be as well-versed in electronic record-keeping and medical technology, for example, but the younger generations are fluent. Younger employees can help coach older employees in navigating tech.
Younger employees, on the other hand, can learn from the communication, experience and perspective that older employees can offer. Have older employees coach younger employees in patient communication.
“It’s important to sit everyone down and audit your team members,” Kelton says. “Have each person identify the strengths they gain from other employees and build from there.” Not only will this result in more effective work, but it will foster respect for employees and patients across age groups.
“Informal mentoring can bring out the best across generations,” Haserot says. “And fostering respect among different age groups feeds back into a better patient experience.”
Cultivate a Culture of Inclusivity
When it comes to diversity, age is often forgotten. It’s difficult to move past ageism without recognizing that it exists. HR can help by facilitating a committee dedicated to creating an inclusive culture, staffed with inter-departmental employees across race, gender, age and other borders, Kelton says.
This ensures that voices from all facets of the organization and all walks of life are heard from. “The feedback provided by a culture committee can help create an inclusive culture, from the bottom-up,” Kelton says. “This is hugely valuable to employee engagement and in attracting a diverse workforce.” A healthy, diverse organizational culture helps produce better patient experiences and outcomes.
Attracting and accommodating multi-generational talent in healthcare comes down to acknowledging differences and recognizing the strengths employees from each generation have to offer. A company culture that celebrates employees from all backgrounds will lead the way in attracting a multi-talented, multi-generational workforce.