Millennials are 75 million strong in the workforce and the economy—how to capture the attention of this generation.
By Ingrid Sparrow, PT, CMPT
With this January’s inauguration of a new president, it is unclear what changes will occur in the national health care insurance system. But what is clear, and is hopefully included in your annual planning, is the significant impact of the Millennial generation in the workforce and as health care consumers.
Millennials are the 75 million Americans born between 1982 and 2003, now outnumbering baby boomers. Since 2015 the number of Millennials in the workforce is greater than that of the GenXers, by 2020 Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce, and by 2030 this will increase to 75 percent. In 2017 it is estimated they will be spending about $200 billion a year on health care and consumer goods.1
This Millennial generation is much written and talked about, with many generalizations related to age, maturity, life experiences, and personalities. What is agreed is that Millennials have grown up in a technologically driven environment with information and the world at their fingertips. Their method of learning new things, how they interact with friends and employers, and their expectations of work and of health care services are very different from those of their parents and grandparents. These are factors that influence how physical therapy clinics will market and deliver care to Millennials, and which encourage employers to evaluate the workplace environment and the role of work to these employees. To assist in this, we will look at the following categories.
Values and Motivations
Millennials place a high value on the use and availability of technology. They are often looking to the intangibles of flexibility, autonomy, cool workplace, and the desire to learn through experience. They may actually have a higher expectation of employers for work satisfaction as they are looking for work/life balance. They like to see the big picture and place a high value on making a positive impact and giving back to the community. And contrary to current popular perception, Millennials are often workaholics in that they value their work contribution and are not confident it can be done by fellow employees. A perception of fairness and transparency in the workplace, regular feedback, career development, and collaboration are important to them.2 3
Millennials and Health Care
Current trends show that Millennials are more concerned about ease and convenience of care than they are with establishing a relationship with their providers. This may reflect in part that this generation is still fairly young and healthy, and it may change as their need for health care increases. What is unlikely to change is their interest in getting an upfront estimate of the cost of care and their preference for receiving and paying bills electronically. They are much more receptive to telehealth than previous generations. Millennials check their phones an average of 40-plus times a day and thus are most accessible by text or email rather than snail mail or voicemail.4 They are much more inclined than older generations to use and trust social media when choosing care, and while they trust doctors they often do not seek care due to barriers of cost, long wait times, and difficulty scheduling appointments. They like exploring online customer reviews before deciding if they would like to be your customer. And they have grown up viewing health holistically. In conclusion, they approach their health care choices as they do their retail choices.
What Does This Mean for the Physical Therapy Clinic?
These factors pose a new challenge for physical therapy clinics: How to market a relationship-driven process more like a retail product? While the use and value of social media platforms is being debated, it is agreed that your website is your “go to” for current and prospective patients. It has been shown that Millennials do not as readily respond to direct marketing but rather prefer to do research on their own. They go to a website looking for information on your business and the care they will receive, prefer intake forms that can be completed online, and value ease in making an appointment online (which may work better for a one-time consult than for ongoing care). As videos that showcase your business and tell your story in an entertaining fashion are valued by this generation, you may want to include them on your website. And it is good business practice to routinely assess the ease with which your website can be found using a variety of browsers and on portable devices, and as needed to work with a professional on search engine optimization.
1. www.qualtrics.com/blog/5-must-dos-for-courting-the-millennial-customer. Accessed January 2017.
2. http://myptsolutions.com/manage-millennial-employees-foster-relationships-pt-recruiters/. Accessed January 2017.
3. www.oandp.com/articles/2014-04_03.asp. Accessed January 2017.
Ingrid Sparrow, PT, CMPT, is the owner of Sound Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington. She can be reached at Ingridsparrow@soundpt.com.