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Changing for Today’s Workforce (The New Worker)

Clint Maun, CSP

People growing up today expect involvement. They play interactive computer games, and were taught it’s OK to ask “Why?” Those of us born before 1965 however, were taught not to ask questions after we heard “because I told you so.”

Employees born after 1965, expect involvement in decision making and is less likely to stay with an employer with a pictorial parent role culture.

Pre-1965 people grew up without much choice. They chose from three flavors of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and had three TV choices: NBC, CBS and ABC.

Today, there are 132 channel options on cable TV. People channel surf as a hobby. And there are 31 flavors of ice cream, from mint julep to bubble gum. In the past, three kinds of cars sat in your driveway – a Chevy, a Chrysler or a Ford. Today, you can’t even name all the models.

If you are pre-1965 – and most managers are – you could be setting up management systems for people who aren’t like you. You must start thinking like them, and involve them, in decisions.

People with too many options sometimes go for the easiest one: not making a choice. So you must force them to make a decision, and then hold them accountable for it.

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One way to involve staff members – and make them accountable for their choices – is to let them schedule their own work time. They not only can schedule their time on, but also their time off. Tell them, “If you are ill or something else disrupts your work schedule, don’t call us, find your own replacement. Just make sure the schedule is covered.”

You will find that people who self-schedule show up for work and complain less. Statistically, more and more people want to be involved in self-scheduling systems. This is especially true of the post 1965 worker.

We suggest you experiment with one unit on one shift. Put a blank card on the wall and let them schedule the needed staff. Soon you won’t ever return to having one person trying to achieve a perfect schedule for the entire building. And, yes, union employees can participate in self-scheduling also.

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Team-Based Improvement
If employees are not involved in team-based improvement, the post-1965ers’ may embarrass you with customers – not intentionally, but because they are not involved in decisions regarding customers. To implement Continuous Quality Improvement efforts, Total Quality Management approaches, or whatever else you call them, set up employee teams to identify and work on solving problems.


Click here to read a related article (The Art and Science of Teaming).

Fun-Filled Days
Everything seems like a grim emergency in health care. Yet the best part of the workday should be coming to work. People will not stay long if work is not fun. We don’t mean a laugh-a-minute, nor are we talking about organized fun such as the annual picnic.

I’m referring to spontaneous fun. Encourage employees to look for the fun side of their job every day. Don’t let workers create hysteria where none exists. Every organization has an employee who is a court jester. One of your court jesters could also be a resident; seniors like to have fun too!

Occasionally, make a big deal out of payday. Give the clerk the day off and deliver the checks yourself. This gives you an opportunity to pass out compliments, make comments about the week, or share happy news.

Is it fun working at your place? Ask the people who work there. They are more objective than you. Be sure to involve them in creating a fun work environment.

Coaching vs. Counseling
Some managers still believe they can help employees by counseling them on their personal problems. But, you cannot be Mom and Dad to everyone.

Instead, turn your attention to coaching. Coaching means telling employees what they did right or wrong and offering suggestions as to how they can improve. Focus on work-related issues – issues within your control.

Spend time with the charge nurses and show them how they can go face-to-face with those in their charge.

Care Points: A New Way to Look at Assignments
Four people show up for a shift at a 40-bed unit. Each person is assigned 10 beds. Sounds fair and logical, doesn’t it? Forty divided by four equals 10.

What if you tried another option? Each of the 40 people in the beds have a different number of actions they require. Some have 10, others have 20. The total for all 40 customers could be 800 actions to do. Divide 800 by the four people who are there to work that shift. That determines the care points there are for each employee to handle (200 points).

Some energetic employees may choose to do more than 200. Maybe a new worker is assigned fewer care points. You might even set up a system whereby salary is based on the number of care points handled.

The point is to change the mind set about zoning and productivity. Break up the concept that everybody gets the same number of people. Be sure to involve the workers who are on the scene in making decisions on what those care points are.

Go to a related article (Unleashing Productivity).

Try a Self-Directed Orientation

About 40 percent of all turnovers are caused by inadequate orientation. In a common scenario, somebody reluctantly takes a new employee under his or her wing. It seems like punishment to the assigned mentor because the importance of orientation isn’t made clear.

Here’s a better approach. Prepare a sequenced checklist with input from committed employees on what a new employee should know and do. We’ve seen lists with as many as 450 items. The new employee then uses the list to carry out a self-directed orientation over a period of weeks. They are involved in making the decisions on what they need to do to complete everything on the list.

The list should include even minor details, such as where to park and where to store their tuna fish sandwich. The new workers may find on their list the instruction, “find the administrator and say hello.” They also can be given names of mentors whom they are free to approach for questions on their own initiative.

Under this new system, it is an honor to be a mentor. Mentors should welcome new employees with enthusiasm. The biggest reward for a mentor is how many new employees are still employed at the end of the year.

Take a “Welcome Wagon” approach to orientation of your new employee. Create excitement and fun. Introduce the new person to the other employees even before they begin. Take a photograph of the new employee; put it on the bulletin board and say, “We’re really looking forward to seeing you Monday morning on your first day.”

People make a judgment in the first three days about the new place they are working. So make those first days run smoothly with a clearly explained, sequenced check list. And make those first days fun days.

From their own orientation to self-scheduling to team-based improvement – the key in changing for today’s workforce is to involve employees in decision-making.

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