Having four generations of physicians working in the same practice is both a blessing and a significant source of complications, said Haydn Shaw, CSP, at the LUGPA annual meeting in Chicago.
Shaw, the author of “Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart,” used his to talk discuss three key components of the topic—four generations interacting in an office, how to recruit and keep clinicians happy, and how to hand off a practice.
This is the first time there have been four generations in the workplace, he explained, and it’s soon to be five—although there are already five generations of patients today as life expectancy has increased 30 years since 1900.
“It’s one of the great blessings of modern medicine and science,” he said. “It also makes life a lot more complicated because through most of the centuries, there were only three generations of people and a clear hierarchy. But now that we’ve got five generations in a workplace, there are a lot of opinions from different generations, and there are traditionalist practitioners who are still effective in their 70s. But if the older generations expect the younger staff to wait their turn to push for their preferences, they will be surprised.”
He explained while the process has always been to “wait your turn,” today’s graduates don’t want to pay their dues for 20 years and are looking to be heard from the get-go. It’s not that the younger generations want to be running the place in a year; the research doesn’t support that, Shaw said.
“As a matter of fact, both generations believe that traditionalists and boomers know more than anyone else in the workplace, so both Gen X members and millennials have a lot of confidence in the work experience of older generations. What they don’t want to be told is ‘wait your turn’ and that they will be at the card table instead of the big table for another 15 years.”
While younger generations don’t expect to make the decisions, they do want to observe and occasionally be asked their opinions.
Boredom equals turnover
Another critical factor when it comes to creating a happy work force with multiple generations relates to retention and boredom. As millennials get older, Shaw explained, they’re better able to deal with boredom, but younger millennials don’t have a lot of tolerance for boredom. A Gen Z member may take a job with more boredom if it provides security over a job that’s their passion.
“Gen Z watched people have to work really hard just to get what boomers got the week they graduated from college,” he said. “They’re a little more serious about things, but boredom is still a major threat.”
So, when they get to work and the boredom factor is not taken into account, turnover may ensue and retention could be problematic.
Next: Emerging adulthood