Millennials in The Eye Care Workplace

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By Trudi Charest, RO
Millennials are now the biggest generation in the Canadian workforce so it is imperative that business owners know how to manage and motivate this very influential group of employees. Born 1981 to 2006 this group is now hitting the ages of 10 – 35 years old. A large bulk of the workforce in eye care businesses across Canada and one that is very active online. They grew up online and on computers. Some call them the privileged generation that did not have some of the hardships of previous generations, but I call them the fortunate generation. They are highly technological as it has been a normal adaptation of growing up for them. They have had the advantages of technology at their fingertips and most of them have not taken that for granted but excelled with it.
What does this mean for the small eye care practice or optical store? It means additional benefits of having employees who bring a different set of skills and attitudes to our ever changing industry. If you know and understand how to get the most out of your Millennial employee your business will see great returns as this generation will continue to fill our eye care offices as other generations retire.
How to manage & motivate Millennials:
Work-life balance: This group will work hard but they value their off work time more. It is different than the Baby-Boomers who lived to work…this group truly lives up to the work hard, play hard analogy. Don’t ask them to work past 35 – 40 hours a week….it is not in their genes. They have a life and enjoy their preferred activities too much to give it up even for more money.
Digital advocates: Millennials were born with digital devices in their hands. Restrict use of devices and they will feel like a limb is being cut off. Tell someone they can’t check their phone or Facebook during the workday and they will find a business that isn’t so 1990. Instead, take advantage of their digital adaptiveness and utilize technology to your benefit. Give them a tablet to travel around with at work all day… not only find ways to wow your patients with it, they will feel empowered and engaged.
Cool environment: Boring is bad. They are a generation who has seen it all and more. They are used to fancy electronics, music while they study and five devices on at the same time. They like things to be moving, shaking and changing quickly to keep things new and shiny. Don’t put them in a back corner of an office with one task to complete all day or they will go crazy and leave. Make work fun, challenging and inviting. Learn what they like to do and then incorporate that with other work responsibilities for maximum performance.
Structure & Flexibility: They need both. To manage properly this group needs a healthy mixture of daily structure and direction but a large dose of flexibility and ownership. Most have grown up in families where both parents worked and they received a ton of autonomy due to crazy work schedules and busy family lifestyles. Now in their new work careers, they need to learn and understand managerial direction but they are so independent they won’t tolerate micromanaging and control. Give them direction and freedom and you will bring out their best potential and strengths.
Listen & Praise: What generation doesn’t like this? Millennials are used to being heard. Ensure that you give them the opportunity to discuss their work, life and responsibilities at the office with you to hear ideas and options for improvement. Praise them when you see a job well done. A Millennial will be loyal to an organization that makes them feel valued and helps them to grow in their career path.
Final words: It’s getting harder to find and hire good employees. If you have good ones, develop them, motivate them and find ways to keep them happy. They are the most important part of your business.

Trudi Charest is the Co-Founder of 4ECPs. 4ECPs is a business resource company for eye care professionals with three divisions – Eye Care Jobs, Training & Marketing. Check out their website at www.4ecps.com or email trudi@4ecps.com.

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