Defining the Age Gap:
Mara: The topic that we’re really going to be focusing on is the gap between working with millennials and baby boomers in the same business and the same practice. When we talk about millennials, that is generally agreed upon the age we’re looking at is 1980 to 1995 or so that is the generation of the millennial. I want to specify though that we talk about some of these traits and the issues that are coming up in practices or that are very generation-specific. This is not necessarily true for every single person in that generation, there’s always going to be caveats. The reason we’re not talking about Gen Z, they haven’t hit the workforce yet with enough strength to see their traits in the post-college workforce yet. Millennials are known so often as generation social media, this is the generation that grew up with technology at their fingertips. Jay and I joke all the time, millennials are here to stay. This is a generation that has truly changed the workforce. Every generation has put its mark on our workforce in a different way, but look at millennials, they are technology-driven, and is their greatest claim to fame. Jay why don’t you give some notes on the more stereotypical but also some of the facts that we know about the baby boomer generation.
Jay: Well, that’s the generation that I come from, and they are you know kind of the Vietnam era, the civil rights era, 46 to 64. I grew up with putting the first man on the moon, and you know we have a different way of thinking. Our generation was a counterculture, it was one of thought and for thought. But of course, the Gen Z and the millennials have a much better thought process because of what they have at their exposure is nothing like we had. We think differently, we buy differently, and we didn’t buy online. We had to do a lot more investigation, we had to ask a lot more questions and we didn’t have as much money at our exposure as they do today. There wasn’t as much expendable income as there is today and there really was more loyalty in the workplace. Now, I’m going to say there was more loyalty in the workplace, from both sides. It wasn’t that people say, “oh these millennials today, you can’t count on them they jump from ship to ship.” Companies are not as loyal to their staff anymore. Hence, staff is not as loyal to their company anymore because it really is a bilateral agreement, plus the opportunity really does exist today.
More now than ever, because you know Mara and I have this favorite expression that “when you do what you’ve always done you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten,” I’m not really serious, but think about those practices that did things the same way all the time and didn’t change. As we are able to embrace technology from Dos to Windows three we become more technological. The baby boomer, and then the millennial becomes more technological when we have EMRs in the workplace. Today, my age group as Mara and I work with multiple stages of arrest in the practice we work with brand new practices coming out of residencies and fellowships, or surgeons working for somebody that wants to open up their own practice. Then we work with practices that are in the interwar stage of success, wanting to become more successful. Then we work with people like myself, who are worrying and wondering about succession planning and exit strategies. Hopefully voluntary versus involuntary and involuntary.
Challenges and Issues:
Mara: As we look at all of the different items surrounding working with millennials and baby boomers, something to consider is that you might have a built-in exit strategy. This isn’t the first time that multiple generations have worked together within a practice, it’s just a matter of looking at how can multiple generations work together in a practice. One of the things that we want to start off talking about, there’s going to be a number of different components that we speak about today. This is one of the top issues I hear about again and again, when it comes to different generations working in the same practice is that baby boomers value hierarchy. Do you call them by their first name, you respect their authority, and what they say goes we don’t question it and that tends to be a much more baby boomer mentality.
I’m not saying which is right and which is wrong but millennials tend to see people on a much more level playing field. There tends to be a lot more questioning of authority. We see this in current events we see this in the workforce and so there is a lot more questioning now. Social media has somewhat to do with it. Through social media everybody is on a level playing field that people see influencers, people see celebrities and they have just as much access to them on social media as they do in their aunt or their neighbor next door whose dog has an Instagram account. Everybody tends to be on a level playing field and this is a generation that was taught to question things. That’s what Google was founded on. We have questions and we want answers and we want answers now. We see again and again the frustration that arises when it comes to questioning of the hierarchy, and that shift in hierarchy. What are some issues you have found?
Jay: I do know that there are certain people that get offended that are doctors and physicians and surgeons, when they are addressed in the very beginning, by their first names. As a baby boomer, I still refer to people that are doctors as “Doctor”. We have a different level of respect for one another but really, it really is only a personal feeling. I truly believe that everyone should be on a level playing field. We should treat one another equally by gender, by age, by sexual orientation, and by political preference. It really doesn’t matter.
Mara: We just wanted to address that as one of the issues but one of the things that we definitely wanted to talk about was that there seems to definitely be a frustration when it comes to this hierarchy difference. Another major difference that we see that Jay and I had started alluding to a few minutes ago, was differences in comfort levels with technology.
Now, again I’m going to preface this but this is a generality, this is not everybody that you know that has this issue in every generation. What we have found is that often baby boomers, they’re slower to learn technology but they don’t let technology disrupt the workplace. What I mean by this is that you may find a baby boomer that has not had as much exposure to an EMR that if you’re looking for a baby boomer to work on marketing they may not have had as much experience with a digital marketing campaign. They may not be as comfortable with certain software, especially if you’re talking about a provider that hasn’t had to really work with the technology, versus a millennial who grew up with technology.
Now when I say the difference in letting this disrupt the workplace. We have all found instances where a millennial generation, they’re more used to being connected at all times. Right, who is texting me, who was calling me That tends to be more disruptive, the millennial generation tends to be the one that is sneaking glances at a smartphone and or a smart device in the hallway in between seeing patients, versus that doesn’t seem to be a trend for baby boomers. Jay, what would you say, when we talk about the technology differences and comfort levels between baby boomers and millennials?
Jay: Well, there have been so many technological enhancements that have come along the way. The only cellphone that was available was in your car, and that was that big box in the trunk and that was an actual technology advancement. Yes, we have learned to embrace it as baby boomers, out of default, honestly, because there really was no choice. As the younger generation grows up with it, I always say, what a genius I may have been. I had exposure to technology growing up, that the younger people have today.
Mara: Now, as you’re adding to your team, this is the time to start mixing these issues as you continue to look at adding to your team, and you continue to look at tweaking your team. It’s time that we want to start paying attention to how to mix some of these issues. I say that it starts during recruitment, okay and we do. Jay, I’ve lost track of how many interviews we’ve done for our clients and even in the past few weeks alone. One of the questions that we get again and again from people that come to us from practices that come to us are, is now a good time to hire because of COVID? Yes absolutely. What we have found with COVID and I think this takes a moment to really address especially is that there was an incredibly unfortunate round of people that were laid off. What that actually did for the job market was opened up this incredible pool of candidates that otherwise would not have been searching for jobs so we’re looking at, loyalty members, because they might have been with their previous practice for 5-10-15 years and they loved their practice but unfortunately their practice could no longer support their position. Skilled candidates. You’re talking about these people who can really have the pick of who they want to work for. And so when we’re looking at recruitment, we want to make what you’re looking for, with any generation, clear from the very start right so make your expectations clear from the very start.
Number one, create a job description, and can you talk about some of the different ways that you address experience and the need for a certain amount of experience for a certain position? There are times that a practice may be looking for a millennial or they might be looking specifically for a boomer that has this incredible amount of experience. Can you talk about crafting job descriptions and the ways that somebody is able to craft verbiage in order to state who they’re looking for, and what they’re looking for?
Jay: I think it even goes for the job description because it goes into recruitment. Now, there are things that you’re not allowed to say in the recruitment phase and that’s where we come in and we help you with that. When you’re posting you want to post for the right position. You want to make sure that your description is clear, it’s concise, and is consistent throughout the job description. There’s going to get up to a point where you’re going to do an evaluation and you always want to make sure that you’re able to evaluate somebody by their objectives that you’ve set down from the very beginning in their job description. How would you ever hold me accountable for something that I didn’t know I was actually responsible for. That job description explains to the person what type of experience you’re looking for, what type of educational process you’re looking for.
Mara: Jay this brings up a really good point that you want to do when you’re crafting job descriptions. Put down a minimum of five years of experience to apply. Must have these certifications, minimum 10 years of experience with x y z, or if you are looking for a new graduates, new graduates welcome.
Jay: If you’re willing to train, then that’s up to you. Understand that the more training that is required the less is the financial remuneration. You know, it’s like in the aesthetic cosmetic world there are estheticians, and there are medical paramedical estheticians. Somebody who’s an esthetician that comes from a general day spa that does eyelash extensions and eyebrows is different than somebody that does extensive aesthetician work in surgery. If you’re going to train, have a clear concise, and consistent training program, because one thing I can assure you, you’re probably not going to be able to have the time if you’re a busy practice to personally do it yourself. Maybe have some of your staff that are able to assist you in doing it. We pay for the education. I would take that older well-seasoned and mature person.
Mara: This actually pulls in really well with the next components of clarifying company culture. We have had several clients that didn’t go through the proper vetting process, if you will, and they hired a warm body because they said we need somebody now we need somebody right now. They didn’t take the time to do that for experience they didn’t take the time to that for company culture, to make sure that this person was a fit with the company culture that they have specifically within their practice. The person started on Monday and quit by Wednesday afternoon. Here we are going to go through the process all over again. When we talk about company culture, there are very specific things that I want you to think about what the company culture looks like in your practice. Some of them are more generation-specific and some of them are not. Do you have a practice that relies very heavily on technology? This could be everything from your EMR, to your headset, and is everybody on a touchscreen device. You want to think about how does your practice function as a team, does everybody really pull together to help each other out so you need somebody that is very team-oriented, or do you want somebody that’s a self-starter.
Jay: I don’t believe in painting the rosiest picture, and many of you do because you want that candidate so badly and you want them to start. You may have gotten them to agree at a lower salary entry salary level and you’re thinking, wow, I now have the ability to have somebody and save some money on your salary. When you pay peanuts, many times more often you get monkeys. The reason I say this is because you have to paint the picture of how tough your practice can be all the things that the client or your prospective employee has to do. It’s not a cakewalk and if they had that understanding of time then they know coming in, anything other than what you’ve explained to them is a cakewalk. It’s easier, versus when this person that came in and only lasted two days, their answer was, it’s too much for me. They have not painted a picture of that the phone rings and it rings three times while you’re already on the phone, and you may see 75 to 100 patients in a day with four or five providers, and sometimes you may have to work through your lunch. Don’t have unrealistic expectations. All right, and find out how they address drama in different parts of the workplace because many times when somebody is looking for a job, they’re not really always going, to be honest with you.
Mara: I think you would probably agree that reviewing a resume is going to give you a really good indication of what somebody’s goals are, because if I look and I see that somebody has a job and they’ve been somewhere else every 8 months, 14 months, 12 months, 13 months, eight six months, and they keep job-hopping then what would I see is that they don’t have plans to stay with my practice.