Bridging the Gap: Recruit, Manage (and keep) Your Millennial Staff

Millennial Staff



The term “Millennial” is a bit of an amorphous one. Ostensibly, it refers to people born between about 1982 and the dawn of the 21st century (give or take a year or three, depending on whom you ask). To say that the opinions of this generation are polarized is an understatement. But whatever your politics may be, one thing is absolutely certain: Millennial workers no longer represent the “future”. They are the present, have been for a while now, and by 2025 will comprise more than 75% of the workforce.

It can be difficult for private medical practices to successfully court and hire this “new” generation of talent. Managing them on a day to day basis has been a morass for some the last several years. Retention has also been a problem. But hiring, managing, and keeping Millennial workers doesn’t have to be the drudge it’s made out to be. As it turns out, many of the things we discuss on this blog, from a clearly defined and positive workplace culture, to the importance of mentoring, and the necessity of the work-life balance, all speak to the temperaments, needs, and values of this generation.

The hiring challenge

Everything you knew about hiring can go out the window here (or, realistically, say 90% of it). Why is this? In previous posts, we discussed the importance of physician profiles, online ratings, digital accessibility, and the overall marketability of a practice. This is an age where people both need and want very specific things, and they are intent on getting them. With all the channels necessary (major emphasis on the internet) for researching the best deal, they usually find it. In a sense, the power has shifted to the consumer.

We can easily use this as a metaphor for Millennial workers, especially as they pertain to the medical field. Compromises will inevitably be made by both you, and the person you are intent on hiring, but you must go into the interview open to their needs and desires. Many of these, more often than not, center on the “work-life balance.” This is a term that might not compute for past generations, but is incredibly important to this one.

In a previous post, we mentioned how important geography is to young medical professionals, especially as it concerns their families. They don’t want to work too far from home. They don’t want to lose several hours behind the wheel each week, going to and from the office. As much as is possible, they don’t want their professional lives to interfere with their lives at home. A flexible schedule, and adequate vacation and personal time are almost always desired, mentioned even before the topic of pay comes up (which does come up—Millennials want to be compensated just as much as their forbearers did).

This time/scheduling issue can be a tough one. Extra hours go hand in hand with the medical profession. But think back to what we discussed about the futility of burning the midnight oil every week for the sake of productivity. The oil, as it were, never burns clean. Adhering to these kinds of schedules and expecting your staff to do the same is uniquely counter-productive. Time to decompress, to spend with family, to re-energize through those pursuits which nourish you are necessary to doing one’s work effectively.

The management challenge

This next point could easily be an extension of the hiring process, as it concerns a major want of Millennial medical workers. More importantly, understanding it is key to understanding how they work, and what, at their core, drives them.

In addition to scheduling flexibility, Millennials desire a sense of “career flexibility”. They think of their career paths as long and not necessarily straight-forward. As such, the potential for skill acquisition, and for upward and outward movement, are major selling points. More feathers in the cap. More career options. Not so strange, are they? Some have criticized Millennials as job-hoppers, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. Some may see themselves as administrators, or managers in the future. There’s no reason they can’t fill these roles for you down the line.

This is where those ancillary resources—conferences, trainings, continued education—come into play. Does your practice offer any? Furthermore (and this is a key point), are you willing to “coach” some of these new hires? Millennial workers, especially in medicine, desire mentoring and guidance. Is the culture of your practice one that fosters this kind of growth? Is veteran leadership accessible? Understand that with mentoring and encouragement comes the opportunity to challenge your workers, to get them to perform functions outside of their initial comfort zones. To get more out of them. Don’t worry—they crave this.

It bears mentioning that Millennials thrive in team-settings. This is tremendous news, given the preferred model of private practices. Millennials want to know that their contributions are valued and recognized. In a previous post, we mentioned how important it is to allow your staff a voice in daily operations, and in coming up with innovative solutions to various issues. Granting this kind of agency goes a long way with Millennials, who crave the opportunity to put their own stamp on the work they do. Teaching and mentoring Millennials, while showing them that their voice matters are the two main avenues toward earning their respect. Which, as it happens, earns you their long-term loyalty.

We already covered how Millennials place the work-life balance ahead of all else. This may elicit judgement from many, but Millennials desire performance-based outcomes over sheer volume of hours worked and patients seen. They value social interaction. They are pre-programmed with a tremendous sense of empathy, and want to feel as though they are doing a tangible amount of good for people. What does this equate to? A high rate of patient satisfaction.


In the end, it’s no great conundrum. Millennials want what everybody wants. As far as values go, yeah, they may be a bit different from their parents and grandparents. But this pool of medical professionals are highly educated, highly skilled, and are driven by a sense of purpose. They care deeply about the quality of their work, and about people. In short, you needn’t worry—your practice is in good hands.


Brian Torchin

| HCRC Staffing | |

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