Press Ganey's Gary Yates, M.D.: Promote a culture of safety to recruit and engage millennial workers

Millennial workers at a table
A culture of safety resonates with millennial healthcare workers. (Getty/shironosov)

Millennials will make up half of the workforce by the year 2020, so healthcare leaders must learn the best ways to connect with these workers.

Gary-Yates-Press-Ganey
Gary Yates, M.D.

The first focus for providers should be building a strong culture of patient safety and healthcare quality, Gary Yates, M.D., a partner in strategic consulting at Press Ganey, told FierceHealthcare in an interview.

The concept resonates with current staff members, but it can be an effective recruiting tool for millennials as well.

“People talk, and people ask about the culture inside different organizations,” Yates says.

And that culture doesn't make a difference only to those trying to decide between jobs at different healthcare organizations. It also works to encourage those who are deciding if they want to become healthcare workers at all.

Putting the spotlight on safety and quality could “tip the scales” for young people on the fence, as it shows the industry’s commitment to helping people, he says.

RELATED: Use technology, wellness programs and a hands-on approach to engage millennial patients

Engagement around safety and quality doesn’t have to be limited to just new millennial hires or millennials already working in an organization, Yates says. It can touch workers at all levels.

“To create a true culture of safety and reliability we need to engage everyone, and it can only be driven when we have strong alignment,” he says. “Everyone can play a role in safety.”

RELATED: Strategies for emotionally intelligent hospital leaders to engage millennials

Press Ganey has compiled a list of 10 action items providers can use to engage younger workers in safety, he says, including:

  1. Create a sense of purpose around goals, like improving safety
  2. Use stories to drive cultural change
  3. Foster respect among colleagues
  4. Encourage teamwork
  5. Communicate openly
  6. Be transparent and share progress toward goals
  7. Improve the workplace and make it more efficient
  8. Fix nagging issues
  9. Embrace technological solutions and innovation
  10. Offer learning opportunities that may incorporate simulations

Yates says millennials are collaborative workers who value teamwork, so applying a respectful, team-based approach to the workplace can be very attractive to hires in that generation.

A culture of safety must also extend beyond patient safety to workplace safety, he says. Millennials named personal safety as their number one source of stress on the job, so focusing on safety as a whole is a “natural place” to build engagement.

Healthcare is a particularly dangerous profession—though healthcare workers make up just 11% of the U.S. workforce, they make up 57% of victims of workplace assault—a concern recruiters may have to soothe for millennials.

“Those are things that resonate with millennials ... really focusing on this idea of ‘zero harm’ for patients and those support patients.”

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