Creating a Culture for the Millennial Generation
By Lauren Palmer, BS
Recently, at a conference, I listened to the presenter rattle off adjectives that described the Millennial generation.
As I sat there, I realized that those words didn’t describe myself or the Millennial workforce at our practice. In fact, they were the complete opposite. Millennials are often described as self-interested, unfocused, lazy, entitled, and narcissistic, but that doesn’t describe all Millennials. As I look at my own generation and my peers, I would define Millennials as driven, altruistic, creative, passionate, and collaborative. Millennials will represent more than half of all workers by the year 2020.1 Understanding how to attract and work with Millennials in your workplace will be a critical skill for administrators. Strategic planning will help you to identify the unique factors that will arise in this coming decade and to plan for their presence in your workforce. Administrators should consider how they can incorporate the hiring and retention of Millennials; this effort will help you stay ahead of your competition.
Strategic planning consists of creating and defining a strategy, or direction, for making decisions about how to allocate the resources of your organization. It is important in your strategic plan to consider both internal and external forces that will affect the projection of your organization. Your strategic plan should cover a three- to five-year time frame. The guiding force behind the strategic planning process should be your organization’s mission, which is the core reason for the existence of the organization and what makes it unique.
When we started our practice five years ago, we were cognizant of the importance of creating a culture that would attract individuals who had core values similar to ours, and who were driven, passionate, and seeking collaborative opportunities to grow and expand their clinical excellence. We knew from our research that it was important for Millennials to identify with the why, the who, and the what of an organization. We emphasized this culture by creating a mission statement that would appeal to the Millennial workforce by defining why we exist, who we were as a company, and what our purpose is as an organization.
A mission statement defines the goals, ethics, and/or culture of your organization. It typically answers the question, “Why do we exist?” The mission statement is usually determined by the organizational founders or leaders and sets the general direction for the organization. Your mission statement should create clarity and direction for your employees. It should be referred to often in staff meetings and performance evaluations, giving an opportunity for employees to understand the direction of the company. In a recent study conducted by Deloitte called the Global Millennial Survey of 2019, they found that Millennials believe businesses should prioritize the production of high-quality goods and services.2 Your workforce wants to have confidence in the services you are providing. Keep in mind that your employees are some of your greatest referral sources. Ensuring they trust your approach to health care will create the “good will” that will benefit your business for years to come.
Defining your organizational core values helps you identify who you are. Millennials are often skeptical of a business’s motives,3 so clearly defining your organizational values helps with transparency. Work with your practice’s administration, therapists, and office staff to begin to brainstorm core values. Help them feel part of the process of identifying what is valued as a company. When your employees are involved in the process of identifying who you are as a company, they will be more invested in your company culture. This process can be a great team-building exercise. Once core values have been decided on, make a detailed summary of them and ensure they are visible so that your team can view them regularly, then look for opportunities to revisit them in company meetings. Remember, company values can change as the company grows and your culture evolves.
A vision statement describes the desired future position of the company and will help employees understand where the company is headed. Your vision statement should align with the company mission statement and values. Look for opportunities to reiterate your mission statement, values, and vision in your interview process and performance evaluations. As you consistently identify what your purpose is as an organization, your employees will feel loyal to where your company is going. Additionally, your vision statement should contain an element of contributing back to your community. Millennials want to identify with a cause and will support companies that align with their values. They are attracted to making a positive impact in their communities.3 Defining what your organization is doing to benefit the community is paramount to helping Millennials feel a sense of purpose and contribution and in turn increases your employee engagement. You can break down your vision statement to also include clear and achievable goals and objectives. Your goals and objectives should be specific and measurable and contain clearly defined benchmarks to achieve and measure the success of your vision statement. This component will become your driving force for evaluating performance from your workforce.
Finally, Millennials’ jobs are often transitory. The Global Millennial Survey of 2019 found that more than 49 percent of Millennials surveyed would leave their current job in the next two years. This is a significant challenge for small businesses and practices that rely on entry- and mid-level positions to handle the day-to-day processes that require a stable workforce to run smoothly and provide excellent health care to their community. To offset the impact of transitory employees on your organization, look for opportunities to communicate your company mission and values as part of your evaluation of applicants in interviews. This will help you identify applicants who will assimilate into your organization. When an employee identifies with your company mission and core values, they will be invested in contributing to your vision and be less likely to leave.
Many times we have posted a job, gone through the whole interview process, evaluating each applicant, and not hired anyone. We have then reposted the job and gone through the whole process again. Although this approach can be cumbersome and expensive, being patient in hiring has continually been one of the smartest moves we have made. This has led to very little turnover within our company and individuals who want to stay and contribute to the mission, goals, and vision of our organization.
Your organization might already have all these elements—a mission statement, company values, and established goals and objectives—but if you are not reiterating these during hiring and performance evaluations, then you are missing a critical step. Utilizing these tools will help you and your organization retain top talent and identify applicants who will fit well within your organization’s culture. By emphasizing your why, who, and what you define the purpose of your company and the contributions you are making to your community.
1Council YE. How Millennials are Changing Philanthropy. www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2018/08/15/how-millennials-are-changing-philanthropy/#2189681f7c68. Accessed 2019.
2Mathis RL, Jackson JH, Valentine S. Human Resource Management. Australia: South-Western; 2014.
3A Generation Disrupted. www.forbes.com/sites/deloitte/2019/05/20/deloittes-global-millennial-survey-exploring-a-generation-disrupted/#66ea60586907. Accessed November 2019.
Lauren Palmer, BS, is the co-owner and office manager of Pacific Physical Therapy in Port Orchard, Washington. She can be reached at Lauren@pacificptgroup.com.