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Stop Turnover in the First Three Years

Best practices for retaining millennial staff

It's not enough to engage millennials—learn how you can retain them through their first three years at your organization.

Turnover is a growing challenge for many organizations, especially among millennial staff early in their career. And while millennials share many similarities with other generations in the health care workforce, there is one key difference: unlike other age cohorts, staff under the age of 35 are more engaged than loyal during their first three years of tenure.

Preventing turnover in this age group depends on supplementing your engagement efforts with a millennial-specific retention strategy. Follow the 11 best practices detailed in this study to build that strategy, so you can retain millennial staff through their first three years on the job.

Not a member? Download an excerpt of this research report.

Turnover: A clear and troubling trend

The national health care turnover rate is trending steadily upward. Our benchmarks pegged median hospital turnover at 13.4% in 2015—indicating half of organizations have turnover above that rate. Leaders are concerned for good reason: staff turnover is disruptive and costly, and creates more work for HR, managers, and remaining staff.

To reduce turnover, we need to understand which staff are leaving. Some turnover is due to retirements, but the bulk of the health care workforce is under the age of 55. In fact, nearly one-third of all staff are millennials (under the age of 35). To see a meaningful reduction in turnover, organizations must focus on this age group.

The proportion of turnover due to first-year departures has always been higher than anyone would like—but the industry has reached a point now where more than a quarter of all turnover is due to employees leaving in their first year. Many of these staff are millennials, which begs the question: Are millennials a different type of employee, requiring different engagement and retention strategies than those used for other generations?

The millennial employee profile

Our data analysis on this topic revealed some good news: the workplace attributes that engage millennials are nearly identical to the attributes that engage all staff. This means organizations don't need to pursue a separate engagement strategy for their millennial staff.

But that's not the whole story. Further analysis revealed that engagement alone is not enough to retain millennials: there is a sizable gap between millennial engagement and loyalty scores in their first three years of tenure. If you can retain them past the three-year mark, the gap between their levels of loyalty and engagement starts to close.

Organizations need to supplement their engagement strategy with a specific retention strategy for early-tenure millennials. Our best practices below offer a framework that will enable organizations to stop—or at least, significantly reduce—turnover of early-tenure millennials.

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