Between retirements, fewer veterinary students choosing equine and many of those who do leaving equine within five years after graduation, it is more important than ever for practices to embrace the unique strengths of the different generations within their practice. Doing so, according to keynote speaker Meagan Johnson, will help practices maintain outstanding service to horses and clients as well as facilitate the growth, satisfaction and long-term success of associates and interns.
Summarizing the strengths and work styles of each generation currently in the workforce, Johnson said:
Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) understand the importance of teamwork as the first generation for whom education became an expectation.
Generation X (1965-1980), as the offspring of parents who both worked outside the home, tend to be fiercely independent. They want to be given a task and the necessary tools, then be left alone to accomplish the task.
Millennials (1981-1996) tend to be interested in building their corporate “lattice” instead of climbing the corporate ladder. They value collaboration and want to know their manager is participating in their career development. Beyond feedback, they crave a sense of purpose: more than 85% of millennials who have remained with their employer for at least 5 years were happy with their sense of purpose at work.
Generation Z (1997-2012) is the first digital generation and by far the most diverse. They are values-driven and want to see diversity reflected in leadership. Nearly 60% of Gen Z job seekers rank their organization’s social media presence as the reason they accepted the job. In light of that, Johnson recommends practices examine their website and social media to introduce their team, highlight success stories, share letters from clients, post about charity events and more.
Johnson also suggests practice’s consider instituting monthly 15-minute conversations with younger employees to help advance skills, improve learning curves and facilitate satisfaction. The conversations should be built around four questions:
1. What’s something you’re better at now than you were last month?
2. What things would you like to get better at this month?
3. What is your plan for developing these skills?
4. What resources can I help you with?
Similarly, Johnson advises practices to consider replacing an employee’s traditional annual review with periodic stay interviews to help ensure their professional growth and satisfaction, discover what they value and would like to improve, and identify any potential impediments that otherwise wouldn’t be discovered until the employee’s exit interview.
Finally, Johnson stresses the importance of young equine veterinarians feeling as impassioned as practice owners, who can expedite this process by not summarily dismissing ideas and suggestions from associates and new practitioners. Rather, practice owners should first explore how the ideas affect cost, quality, safety and service before making a determination.
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