We don't know the exact date it will happen, but 2015 will mark a momentous change in the makeup of America's population. Sometime this year – and maybe it has already happened –so-called Millennials will become the nation's largest living generation, surpassing their Baby Boomer parents.

Defined as anyone between the ages of 18 and 34, Millennials are already having the sort of outsized impact on society that their sheer numbers would indicate. Perhaps nowhere is that impact more apparent than in the workplace, where Millennials are not only making up a larger share of the workforce but whose talents are also becoming more and more essential to the current and future prospects of all companies. Which is why it’s so important for HR professionals, particularly in healthcare, to understand and be responsive to Millennials' workplace priorities and tailor their benefits, severance and outplacement policies to appeal to this increasingly important generation.

What Millennials want

It's obviously impossible to characterize the workplace wants and desires of every single person in an entire generation. Nevertheless, a host of studies have surveyed the attitudes of Millennial workers and reached some similar conclusions. For example, the global consulting company PwC conducted an ambitious survey of thousands of people in its workforce and gleaned a number of key lessons that have implications on how to best devise benefits, severance and outplacement services.

For example, Millennials place a high priority on flexibility in the workplace. While part of that is a desire for non-traditional work schedules and locales – ie. the freedom to telecommute – it's also the sort of flexibility that allows people to pursue internal assignments and even employment opportunities that might not fit neatly into an existing job description. For HR professionals, that means ensuring that there is an open and encouraging environment that allows Millennials to find a position that matches their talents and interests.

Another important reality to acknowledge is that Millennials are likely to job hop, with one survey predicting that most in the generation will have between 15 and 20 jobs during the course of their working lives. Does that mean businesses should give up on outplacement and severance entirely? Hardly. Given that Millennials are more likely than preceding generations to be on the lookout for new opportunities, it is wise to do whatever is possible to create ways for Millennials to satisfy that restlessness while staying at your company. Even when that is not possible, providing comprehensive outplacement services and severance is a key to attracting and retaining vital talent.

Think about it: companies that earn a reputation as providers of helpful outplacement and generous severance will be reliably attractive to top talent. Even those who may leave your company will remember how well they were treated – and tell their industry colleagues and friends – and be attracted to the idea of eventually returning.

A higher bar in healthcare

Meeting the work expectations of Millennials is important for all industries. But in healthcare, the need to provide a generous outplacement package is even more vital. That’s because healthcare companies already outpace other industries in terms of their embrace of outplacement – failure to keep up provides a talent advantage to your competitors.

In fact, according to a recent RiseSmart study, 85 percent of employers in healthcare say all of their employees are eligible for severance resulting from an involuntary separation, compared to 61 percent of all other employers. Furthermore, healthcare companies were more likely to also have a formal severance policy than employers in other industries. The study also found that 85 percent of healthcare companies have programs in place to find new positions internally for those impacted by an involuntary separation, compared to just 52 percent of other employers.

It's now official that there are more Millennials than any other living generation. Tapping that generation's enthusiasm and talents to help your business flourish will only be more important in the future. A good start is by devising outplacement services that appeal to segment of the workforce.

11 March 2015

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