Leading in a Multigenerational Healthcare World: Strategies to Maximize the Benefits

You may know these numbers. Or, they may simply make sense of what you experience daily. As a healthcare leader in the 21st century, you could be managing six generations of healthcare associates. Consider these generations by approximate birth years and how many of them your employees likely represent:

  • Pre-boomers, before 1945
  • Boomers, 1946–1964
  • Generation X, 1965–1980
  • Xennials, 1977–1983 (sharing X and Y sensibilities)
  • Generation Y, aka Millennials, 1980 to mid-1990s
  • Generation Z, mid- to late-1990s

That kind of diversity can produce a dynamic mix within a healthcare organization. It can also create an attitudinal Tower of Babble. There are well-documented differences among current generations in their expectations around work-life balance. Certainly there are differences in how they communicate and the tools they use. The potential for confusion and miscommunication can be sky high.

That needn’t be. Plenty of healthcare leaders are finding ways to build bridges, rather than towers. They’re devising approaches to encourage multiple generations to connect. They’re also shifting to tap into the innovative thinking of new generations, while respecting stalwart older ones.

In “Today’s Leadership: Harnessing the Strengths of a Multicultural Workforce to Leverage Opportunities,” the article spotlights strategies to adopt or adapt. Reflect on the strategies below, drawn from the article, and how to apply them in your multigenerational healthcare organization.

Congress Watch Box

Watch here for related sessions coming up at the
ACHE Congress on Healthcare Leadership, March 4-7, 2019.

  • Thriving in the Modern Era of Multicultural and Multigenerational Leadership, with Kim Byas Sr., PhD, FACHE, regional executive, American Hospital Association; Ramanathan Raju, MD, FACHE, senior VP, community health investment officer, Northwell Health; and Bonnie J. Panlasigui, FACHE, consultant, healthcare practice, Witt Kieffer
  • Leading a Successful Multigenerational Healthcare Organization, with John W. Sharpe, FACHE, program manager and VA/DOD liaison, Veterans Health Administration; Adam C. Walmus, FACHE, CEO (Retired), Department of Veterans Affairs; Deborah Ludke, administrative operations officer, National Office of Academic Affiliations, Department of Veterans Affairs; Elizabeth E. Veasey, experienced administrative officer; Benjamin M. Durham III, administrative officer, pharmacy service, Hunter Holmes McGuire Richmond VA Medical Center; Christopher T. Clarke, PhD, FACHE, chief financial and informatics officer, VHA Office of Academic Affiliations
  • The Courage to Lead: Five Leadership Practices to Achieve Extraordinary Success, with Jody R. Rogers, PhD, FACHE, visiting professor, healthcare administration graduate program, Trinity University, San Antonio

5 Strategies to Foster an Effective Multigenerational Mix

  1. Educate Managers in Multigen Leadership 101
    Evaluate your workforce to know the generations that compose it. Support managers with training in creating a culture that accepts age diversity and pulls a group together to work toward mutual goals.
  2. Be Flexible & Adaptive
    Younger generations are here to stay – and you want them to stay in your organization. Flexibility is key. Adapt to accommodate different work styles and scheduling preferences. Employees of any generation can benefit, making it a win-win for all.
  3. Listen Well & Act Fast
    Another distinction of younger generations is the desire to be heard. Younger employees today tend to want an even quicker ASAP response. Formalizing a process for inviting ideas and requests can promote engagement, deliver feedback faster, and encourage fresh takes on how an organization can improve.
  4. Cultivate New Leaders & Ideas
    There was a time when getting to the top involved surviving at the bottom, which inevitably meant the loss of potential leaders. Taking a more “nurturing” approach to leadership development suits newer generations, with promising results. Healthcare mentors and fellowships can strengthen leadership traits and produce even more talented leaders.
  5. Leverage Social Media Tools
    Every healthcare organization needs a presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms aligned with the organization’s brand. Capitalize on the social media skills of younger members to educate an entire team. Posts from all generations will ensure your social media presence has a “well-rounded” voice and your team finds common ground.

Learn more: Find profiles of successful multigenerational healthcare organizations and leaders in Healthcare Executive Magazine.

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