Why is today’s new workforce, Millennials (born 1980–2000) in particular, job hopping as much as they do? Is it because they have no loyalty? Is it because they are too entitled and they think they don’t have to pay their dues? Or is it because their supervisors and managers aren’t very effective? The answer is a combination of all of the above.

A Lack of Loyalty

The workforce has evolved dramatically over the past decade, and it is true that many of the new hires brought into a facility today will not be loyal for loyalty’s sake. That is because they were raised in a different time than most leaders within the long term and post-acute care (LT/PAC) space.

While older managers and supervisors were taught by their parents to “stick it out” in jobs where they were unhappy, Millennial parents taught their children the opposite, saying, “Don’t be unhappy for too long because life is short.”

Millennials’ parents did not want to see their own children suffer in jobs they hated, nor did they continue to believe the companies had the workers’ best interests at heart. After all, companies in various industries laid off masses of workers to whom they had promised long-term work and/or pensions. As the loyalty from companies to workers began to fade from the 1980s on, younger employees were taught to look out for themselves.

Does this seem selfish? Of course, because it is. But what do buildings do when occupancy is down? They cut worker hours. In LT/PAC, it is nearly impossible to live up to schedule promises made upon hire when
staffing stability today is shaky at best. Facility leaders must make cuts (in hours or positions) when needed, and it is imperative that leaders understand their workers know that.

Increasing Entitlement, Decreasing Patience

It is absolutely true that today’s young workforce expects most things to happen in an instant; they demand choices, and they have much less patience than did previous generations. But it can be easy to understand why when leaders realize how much has changed in society over the past 30 years.

Drive-thru windows are everywhere. Digital streaming allows people to access anything, anytime. People no longer have to “save up” for things because adults have access to credit cards and can pay off the bills later for things they want today. Millennials only know a world of instant gratification and personalized customization, so it’s no wonder those expectations trickle into the workplace.

Millennials have learned from the video-game days that it feels great to “level up” in life, and they want that same advancement opportunity at work. They are likely to get bored in the same role for too long because they have only lived in a fast-paced lifestyle where things are constantly changing and opportunities are endless.

Wanted: Great Managers

Unfortunately, too many LT/PAC organizations cut soft-skills training and development for many front-line leaders years ago, and now it is coming back to haunt them. When certified nurse assistants are promoted into supervisor positions without being given the tools to be successful in that new role, it can sometimes do more harm than good if they do not have a natural skill set for effective leadership.

Plus, most people with a supervisor or manager title still have a full-time workload to complete, and they do not have time to hand-hold and mentor new hires. They just expect everyone to “do their job,” which isn’t happening today like it used to.

The Turnover Impact

Since unemployment is so low and the current market is considered an employees’ market, where employees and candidates have the option to go elsewhere, employers must see and treat all current and future employees as internal customers.

Most LT/PAC facilities have evolved dramatically to adjust their services to the residents they serve—offering dining options, person-centered care, and Wi-Fi—but what has been done to evolve for the staff in recent years? Is the organization still scheduling the way it scheduled five years ago? Are the leaders still managing the way they managed 10 years ago? Are there still policies in place against hiring those with purple hair (like the author of this article)?

For organizations continuing to manage the Millennial workforce the same way they managed GenXers
(born 1965–1979) the past 20 years, it is a struggle to get and keep talent.

But the Millennials should not be viewed as the disloyal, ungrateful workers many label them as. Instead, they should be viewed as the canaries in the coalmine, letting leaders know that no one (of any age) wants to be treated the “old school” way, and that organizations that remain set in their ways may not be sustainable much longer.

How to Keep Staff Longer

All employees want to feel appreciated for a job well done—even if it is their job to do so. Unfortunately, some workers don’t show up for their shifts, and some who do are unable to make it in on time. In these situations, LT/PAC leaders must dig deep and realize how grateful they truly are for those employees who show up—on time—and do their jobs well. It is critical that every administrator, department director, manager, and supervisor thank their people on a regular basis for taking great care of the residents they serve.

Workers today are looking for flexibility via scheduling options. Yes, the building operates 24/7 and needs full coverage, but does the organization offer various shift lengths (12, 10, eight, six, and four hours) and different start and end times? A 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift will not work for a single mother whose children go to a daycare center that is only open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Plus, aging nurses will often stay in their roles longer when shorter four-hour and six-hour shift options are made available. This alleviates the workload burden on other nurses when they extend their tenure and delay retirement. Are innovative scheduling options being considered for all employees?

What’s working? What’s not? What else could be done to create a place where people want to work? How much voice should employees have regarding changes within the organization? And how much is it costing in unnecessary employee turnover for those companies that refuse to adjust their staffing approach and do not demand management effectiveness?

Every LT/PAC facility leader should be asking these questions and leading the retention conversations in a new direction.
Cara Silletto
Workforce thought leader, keynote speaker, and “entitled” Millennial herself Cara Silletto, MBA, works with organizations to reduce unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. She is president and chief retention officer of Crescendo Strategies and is the author of the 2018 book, “Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer.” More information is at www.crescendo​strategies.com, or she can be reached directly at cara@crescendostrategies.com or 812-207-0739.