How to Manage Millennials and Gen Z in a Home Care Setting

Home Care Office Staff Hiring Tips

Millennial and Gen Z employees are becoming a bigger and bigger portion of today’s workforce. Here’s how you can make sure you’re speaking their language.

The demand for caregivers is higher than ever and the hiring pool is also more diverse than ever before. As millennial and Gen Z employees become a bigger and bigger portion of today’s workforce, here’s how you can make sure you’re speaking their language.

Before we dive in, it’s important to clarify that today in 2020, millennials are between the ages 24-39 and generation z are between the ages 8-23. Even among these two generations that sometimes get clumped together as ‘millennials’, there are significant differences and we’ll speak generally and to some specifics to watch out for when hiring, training, onboarding, recognizing and managing them in home care.

#1 – Don’t train these employees the way you were ____ years ago (you fill in the gap).

It’s true that you may have been trained as an RN, caregiver, HR, admin or something along those positions yourself and the principles you were taught are universal. However, it’s important to adapt your content and style to those you’re training.

Differences in communication styles, advances in technology, and varying approaches to authority and management may all necessitate taking a drastically different approach to training than many managers experienced when they entered the workforce.

Today there are more options than ever to incorporate visuals and technology into training. With the internet, smart phones, YouTube and social media at their fingertips, these employees will have a higher-quality, more relatable training experience if they’re being taught the way they prefer.

Visuals and technology should definitely be used in the training and onboarding processes, and most would even recommend using these tools in performance reviews and other team meetings or check-ins.

#2 – Explain your reasoning rather than pulling rank.

One common complaint from Gen X / Baby Boomer managers working with younger employees is that they don’t seem to respect authority. The more nuanced truth is that they generally respect reasoned arguments more than they respect authority for its own sake.

Make sure you always express the why behind your reasoning; they’ll get behind your leadership, rules, and ideas if they understand and know why. If there’s a disagreement on how to do something, they’ll respond much better if you logically explain why your way will work better than if you simply pull rank.

Teams that embrace this fact see major benefits because this style of leadership actually leads to greater individual empowerment throughout the team and better decision-making because no one’s ideas are above challenging.

Openly discuss new ideas brought to the table by all your employees. It’s reassuring to individual members of a team, if their ideas are dissected openly and adopted into processes if it makes sense. It’s healthy for a team to deliberate ideas and receive feedback collectively.

#3 – Use their preferred technology and channels.

If you’re not communicating with your employees via text, you’re already behind the game. The Pew Research Center says 93% of Millennials have smartphones and nearly 100% of Gen Z have smartphones.

They’ve got them, they use them and they expect you to communicate with them through them (smartphones that is). Centralize your internal communication with office staff and caregivers and make texting the primary method. It’s fast, simple and will boost your credibility and likability with your employees because it’s their preferred method of communication.

With smartphones being in nearly every hand, social media apps dot their screens. Use social media to connect and support your employees as well. You can help caregivers feel included by posting team photos, highlighting company wins or even liking their personal photos to show that you care.

Be open with your employees and find what method of communication fits each of their individual needs. Communication is essential in your agency and your goal should be to be open and transparent with your employees through communication.

#4 – Recognize and reward them how they need and want.

Millennials, and even more so with Gen Z, want instant gratification and more frequent recognition. They want to be recognized for their efforts and may even feel they need it to keep working hard or working at all. Make it a priority to recognize them as individuals on a regular basis – this could even just be sending them a sincere text or pulling them aside after a meeting.

In addition to regular recognition, offer flexibility and consistency when possible. Caregiver scheduling isn’t easy, but try and communicate what opportunities there are for them early on. Prioritize their scheduling needs and do your best to find clients that would best suit their personalities and schedules.

Encourage your office staff to stay in regular communication with your caregivers so they feel more social involvement. These younger generations are social creatures and they want to thrive socially. Find ways to help your office staff build relationships with your caregivers through open communication and support.

Most importantly, build a culture inside of your agency that millennial and gen z caregivers would want to work at.

Ryan Walsh, CEO at RepVue, summarizes company culture best by saying, “Culture is not 4 ping pong or foosball tables. Culture is not a slide in the office. Culture is not awesome coffee and snacks (for free). Those are perks, and there’s nothing wrong with them, but perks don’t drive culture and it’s not the same thing. Culture is being empowered to make decisions. Culture is a large part of the team hitting quota. Culture is a compensation plan that’s truly motivating. Culture is transparency from leadership.”

Assess your company perks and your company culture. Make sure you’re not lumping the two together and calling it culture. Define both separately and make sure they both offer what your staff wants.

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#5 – Give them a mission & support them in their career path.

These generations are mission-driven and want to work for a company that makes the world a better place. Home care really does do just that, but you’ve got to communicate that simply and with purpose to these employees.

Internally at Home Care Pulse, Connor Kunz says, “if you can continually demonstrate to your staff and your caregivers how they’re helping improve lives, you’ll be able to boost their job satisfaction and even employee retention.”

Encourage your employees to grow personally and professionally. Show them that you care about them as a person and want the absolute best for them. They may be with your agency for a few weeks, months or years, but your goal should be to leave a lasting impression on them as an agency, but also as the home care industry.

Allow your employees to pave their own career path inside home care. Let them be innovative. Inspire them to share ideas or opinions on how you can improve processes and procedures. Voicing their opinions helps build their confidence in you and the service they’re providing.

Lastly eliminate the fear of failure. Be open about professional mistakes you’ve made and how you’ve learned from them. If you can be open about your mistakes, it’ll allow them space to share theirs. An atmosphere of openness and learning from mistakes will really help your employees enjoy full job satisfaction.

Adapt and Embrace the Generational Differences Between You and Your Employees

Whether we like it or not, the future of home care lies in our hands and the hands of these younger generations entering the workforce. The personalities, communication styles, technological preferences and missions of these generations matter and we need to recognize them for what they’re worth.

The agencies that adapt and embrace these generations will see continued success in the long run. These generations aren’t going away soon, so we may as well love them.

Find ways to implement and adapt to their methodologies and preferences. Don’t brush over their opinions or talk to them the way your manager did to you. If you can help them feel valued in your agency, you can expect them to provide value in return.

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About the Author:

Miriam is a Project Manager at Home Care Pulse and comes from a background in traditional and digital marketing. Previously, she worked at a radio broadcasting group, social media ad agency and a freelance web designer/graphic designer. Miriam has helped local businesses achieve great success through marketing strategy and execution. She's explored and added value to many different industries, but now finds herself passionate and motivated to help the home care industry grow.

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