Turnover in Senior Living and Millennials: The Truth about Younger Talent

Turnover in senior living is a problem.

From executive directors to sales team members, most operations struggle with communities that always seem to have a high churn rate.

To find a solution, you have to dig deep into the dynamics of your community talent.

And—for most operations—that means understanding a number of team members who are from the Millennial generation.

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials will soon overtake the Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the US.

Not to mention that Millennials outnumbered Generation Xers and Baby Boomers in the workforce back in 2015.

This data underscores the fact that Millennials aren’t just an interesting generation that makes the headlines…if they aren’t already, they’ll be a big part of your workforce.

In this article, we’re revealing what the data has to say about Millennials, and—most importantly—how you can make a shift that reduces turnover for your organization.   

Narratives about Millennials—Fiction or Fact?

“She responded just like a Millennial. They’re so privileged and demanding.”

“Of course he failed to close that tour—he’s a Millennial.”

“They won’t stick around long…they’re Millennials.”

If these sound familiar, you’ve probably swallowed a number of cultural narratives about Millennials…making you less optimistic about using them as an important part of your long-term growth plans.    

As the Harvard Business Review says, “Conventional wisdom holds that Millennials are entitled, easily distracted, impatient, self-absorbed, lazy, and unlikely to stay in any job for long…”

When it comes to that last description, conventional wisdom seems backed by the truth. Consider a few of these headlines…

  • “Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation”  
  • “Here Are 7 Reasons Millennials Leave Companies”
  • “Why Millennials Quit: Understanding a New Workforce [Report]”
  • “Your Millennials Are Going to Quit and There’s Only One Thing You Can Do to Stop It”

It’s hard enough to leverage team members for top-line growth…it’s even harder when you’re pretty sure the people you’ve hired won’t be around long.

However, don’t assume that Millennials’ impact is simply more turnover for your senior living operation.

In fact, you need to think twice before you swallow this cultural narrative—and make decisions about growing your ROI without them.

A Nonfiction Narrative for Reducing Turnover in Your Senior Living Operation

When it comes to Millennials, consider multiple studies and perspectives before making key strategy decisions.

Here are some stats that defy what we’ve been told about Millennials…

  • Forbes reports a 2017 Deloitte survey that reveals only 7% of Millennials plan to leave their current jobs soon versus 17% from the previous year. Forbes notes the Millennial demographic is making a shift toward maturity.  
  • IBM reports that fewer Millennials would leave their jobs to “make more money and work in a more creative, innovative environment” compared to Generation X, citing only 42% of Millennials would make a job switch versus 47% for Generation X.
  • And neither of these stats should be a shock, given that Bentley University released the results of a survey back in 2014, stating “80% of Millennials believe they’ll stay with four or fewer companies for their entire career.”

These stats indicate Millennials may not pose the turnover threat you fear…and they could play a long-term role in helping your organization achieve the occupancy, revenue growth, and ROI it’s capable of.  

So why the confusion?

The author of the Harvard Business Review article notes how—in his organization—younger employees have been, historically, more likely to leave. He goes on to warn…   

Part of the reason is the proliferation of poor “research,” or overreaching and invalid conclusions based on otherwise valid facts. The most glaring examples of faulty research are “studies” of Millennials that lack comparisons to any control groups of other workers or young people of other generations.

The bottom line: If you think that senior living turnover is the defining characteristic of Millennial employees, it’s time to shift how you understand this demographic and their role in your occupancy growth. 

The True Impact of Millennials

modern building

As a leader in senior housing, accurately understanding the dynamics of each demographic you hire is important for increasing profit margins.

After all, understanding your team—whether they’re Millennials or Baby Boomers—bridges the gap between hiring senior housing talent and leveraging their individual skills in your overarching strategy.

If you are suffering from turnover in your senior living operation, particularly from Millennials, here are two stats that may shed light on your problem…and how to fix it.

  • Millennials lack connection. Gallup explains that less than half of Millennials (40%) “feel strongly connected to their company’s mission.”
  • Millennials struggle with engagement. Gallup reports that “29% of employed millennials are engaged at work.”

In other words, Millennials may be leaving your operation not because they’re undependable, but because you haven’t fostered the right organizational culture.

This is important, and worth repeating: Millennials aren’t leaving because they’re unreliable. They are more than likely unsatisfied with your culture—or lack of it.

These stats are a wake-up call for senior living operations to make radical shifts as the dynamics of their talent (and resident population) undergo change.

Take a few moments to ask yourself…

Does my organization give promising talent “wings” by inspiring them with a mission…or does it weigh them down with the burden of poor leadership?  

Do the Millennials in my communities clearly understand how to drive our operation’s growth, or are they disengaged due to poor training, poor support, and inefficiencies?

Does my organization overdeliver on its brand promise, or does it struggle to create inspiring, transformative experiences for residents?

Your starting place for avoiding turnover in senior living, empowering your Millennial employees, and driving occupancy?

The solution lies in the words of Lou Gerstner, Former Chairman of IBM…

“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.”  

Culture isn’t just an organizational soft skill you consider every 5 years.

It’s your starting place for navigating the Millennial disrupter and harnessing their strengths to take your organization to the next level.

The choice is yours.

Resist change, and watch a poor culture stunt your growth.

Or embrace a sales-centered culture change, and watch Millennials and other talented team members fuel your occupancy.

Click here to book a time to talk strategy with us, and see how you can transform your internal culture.

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