Article Date: 3/1/2008

A New Generation Goes to Work
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A New Generation Goes to Work

Millennials desire fun, freedom, structure and team work at their jobs.


CBS's 60 Minutes recently ran a story on what they referred to as the "Millennials" — employees in their 20s. Since our consulting company encounters so many practices that have "Millennial" staff members, you should be aware of this group's work mentality.

Mobile and fun-seeking

"Millennials" have the same degree of loyalty as most managed-care patients whose change in insurance prompts a reflexive change in their optometrist. How so? They're very likely to move from one job to the next. This isn't necessarily because they dislike your practice. It's due to their innate mobile nature and constant search for fun. Most of us would prefer more vacation and less work. "Millennials" tend to readily act on that desire. Their parents have groomed them to enjoy life. As a result, they tend to prefer jobs that have a light, carefree and fun atmosphere.

While this may not fly in the face of your view of a "professional office," it's an important part of the fiber of a "Millennial." For instance, it's common for a "Millennial" to request an early leave from work for something you may view as frivolous. Whether you let your "Millennial" staff member leave early, depends on your management style. But, keep in mind that if you don't, she might view this as reason to find "work" elsewhere.

Millennials prefer jobs that have a light, carefree and fun atmosphere.

Structure and multi-tasking

"Millennials" are used to their parents shuttling them from soccer practice to piano lessons to karate. As a result, they expect a structured, scheduled yet highly diverse lifestyle. This spills over into their work ethic and expectations. Therefore, instead of asking a "Millennial" staff member to call patients who are overdue for exams, try this:

"Let's try a test. Please call 200 patients, e-mail 100 patients, text 100 patients, and send this exam-reminder letter to 100 patients. Please track each form of communication, and the amount of time it takes to perform each task. Let me know what the results are, and we'll go from there."

Team players

Millennials are prone to be team players. Perhaps this was fostered on the soccer field or basketball court. Regardless of its origins, this can be a great benefit for your practice and your patients.

Multitasking, especially electronic multitasking is a part of a "Millennial's" DNA. Use this skill to your advantage. For instance, cultivate their willingness to work in a wired environment, and have them share their technological enthusiasm with more reluctant senior staff members. Instead of trying to suppress it, put their technology-savvy skills to good use in your practice, and let them think of ways in which they can use these skills to benefit your patients.

Should you change your practice-management style and systems just because of "Millennials"? No. First, what I've written here are generalizations of a group of people and of course, individual traits always vary.

Second, while one or more of your employees may be a true "Millennial" — based on what I've described — at the very least, be aware of these traits as compared to senior employees. As respect is of major importance to senior employees, now you know that "Millennials" desire structure, teamwork and a creative environment.

Just as you are aware and deal with the differences among your 25- and 75-year-old patients, use the same sensitivities to deal with differently aged staff members. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: March 2008