Blending career, personal goals key for Millennial workforce

Cornerstone Specialty Hospital in Shawnee, Okla., a 34-bed long-term care facility, serves very complex patients—people recovering from sepsis, weaning off ventilators, dealing with complex wounds—and the majority of its nurses are under the age of 40. Chief Nursing Officer Amanda Kidd keeps several priorities in mind for her nursing staff.

“When it comes to Millennials, we have to be mindful of what their goals are and bridge a connection so that they can see how the work they are doing contributes to their goals,” she said. “We have to support a work-life balance really well. And we have to be flexible, thinking about what we need done and what they are trying to accomplish and be thoughtful about how we blend the two together.”

She should know: Kidd, 37, is a member of the generation born between 1981 and 1996 referred to as Millennials. A literature review published this spring in the Journal of Nursing Administration identified the factors that keep Millennial nurses on the job: strong leadership, advancement opportunities, alignment of organizational and personal values, good coworker relationships, a healthy work-life balance, recognition and cutting-edge technology.

“Millennials have specific expectations for work, and they will leave if these go unmet,” the authors wrote.

At Carolina Caring, a serious illness management company based in Newton, N.C., the tag line “Filling Each Day with Purpose” appeals to Millennial values, said interim CEO Dana Killian. Its nearly 400 staff members provide hospice, palliative care, home-based primary care and bereavement services to people living in 12 mostly rural counties in western North Carolina. 

“What Millennials desire in a workplace is a great purpose and a great mission,” Killian said. “They can see that they are part of something that is bigger and that is good work.”

Kidd uses shared decision-making—a concept borrowed from patient care—to make sure Cornerstone Specialty nurses have input into the decisions that affect their work lives. During budget-proposal time, for example, she asked for ideas about equipment that could make their work more efficient and received a request for a vein-finder device, which was funded.

“It helps us to place IVs more easily, which keeps our patients more comfortable, but it is also a way to make the nurses’ work a little bit easier because they don’t have to spend 30 or 40 minutes trying to find a vein,” she said.

Self care
Kidd coaches her staff to prioritize work-life balance. 

“I want them to take care of themselves and their families first because, if they don’t pay attention to that, they won’t be able to take care of our patients,” she said.

Edward Aldag Jr., chairman and CEO of Medical Properties Trust, said work-life balance is one of his company’s top priorities. MPT is a real estate investment trust that owns about 430 hospitals in nine countries. In some cases it owns the real estate while leasing operations to another entity and sometimes owns the real estate and a portion of the operations.

The company has 150 employees around the world, about 120 of whom work at its Birmingham, Ala., headquarters. Aldag estimates that about half of the staff are Millennials.

He tells prospective hires that they should leave work to attend their child’s kindergarten play or first soccer game, and they do not need to dip into their paid time off to do so.

“I tell them I expect the person who sits next to you to cover your (workload) for that hour or two hours you’re gone for that very, very important event in your life,” he said. “And when they have a similar event, I expect you to” return the favor.

Collaboration is essential to their work, Aldag says, so MPT does not offer official flex-time, but it does offer flexibility.

“When we’re not too busy, I’m very comfortable with people not working a full 40-hour week or 50-hour week,” he said. “I understand the importance of going home and being with your family or walking in the woods with your dog. You need to have your batteries recharged for those times at the office when we really need you strong. I think Millennials appreciate that.”

Lola Butcher is a freelance writer based in Springfield, Mo.


Liked Liked