Millennials in the Workforce: Designing Programs to Meet the Needs of all Employees

Millennials currently make up about one third of the workforce.  While the perceptions about this group are not always positive – referred to as the “me” generation, “entitled” and “noncommittal,” – their real needs and desires in the workplace are not all that out of line with other generations of healthcare workers.  In essence, providing what millennials want in their work is simply to me “best practice” to provide for all employees by any leader or organization.

Lindsey Pollack delivered a fascinating talk at the Independent Owners Leadership Conference where she presented facts and historical events of each of five generations that impacted their subsequent beliefs and behaviors in the workplace.  According to Pollack, millennials essentially care about three things in the workplace.  They desire personal development in jobs, like a variety of work, and want to make an impact by finding work that matters where they “give” to others.   But is that unlike any other generation who seek a positive work environment?

While in my own personal leadership experience, it was anticipated that millennials would pose a certain challenge and that it might be necessary to establish specific programs to meet the needs of millennials – we found we never needed to do so.  Seemingly, much of what we had already planned and created for all staff happened to be what the millennials desired as well.  We created programs to address all staff needs, from 18 to 65.  However, for the purpose of this blog, I’ll outline some of those that were particularly beneficial for millennials.

Three major points were emphasized for millennials in the workplace:  Personal development, variety and making an impact.


  • Personal development and the “experience” of work
    • We cared about them as individuals
    • They were prepared for their role – provided a thorough orientation
    • Created a  “learning environment” and provided ongoing educational programs
    • Welcomed every new employee – an expectation of all staff
    • Provided recognition for their growth – peer-to-peer and management
    • Created an open door policy
    • Expected management to teach and coach –  “education before discipline”
    • Offered training, career building opportunities, tuition


  • Variety
    • We were open to new ways of doing things – listened
    • Encouraged and enabled managers with opportunities to try new things
    • Made staff part of the decision-making team – encouraged input – asked them
    • Allowed for involvement in organizations/events outside of the facility


  • Impact – Give Meaning and A Calling
    • Routinely discussed the importance and impact of their work
    • Used stories to demonstrate the impact of their work on the lives of those they touched – residents, families, visitors, community
    • Created a vision – a shared vision – that emphasized “being the best” – and we were

It turns out that millennials want what many people want in their work, regardless of the generation in which they grew up.  Decades of staff satisfaction research indicates the same.  Provide it and not only will the millennials be more satisfied and stay, so will all other staff.



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