DOMANICO: Well, in our organization, that’s not possible because we’re 80 percent unionized. If we’re going to have a reduction in force, we’ll be following the contracts and will be primarily based on seniority.
RICE: That’s a good point. One thing that I’ve come to realize is the need for more immediate, frequent performance feedback among the younger generations. A once-a-year evaluation doesn’t work because a five-year plan doesn’t mean anything to them. We need to get better as an industry in terms of coaching and combining that with more thorough, frequent feedback, even if it’s informal. And if you do need to make a big shift in your workforce, you’ll have more information. More importantly, people want to do the right thing, and waiting for a year for meaningful feedback isn’t helpful.
MODERATOR: We’ve talked about the challenges of a multigenerational workforce. In what ways have you seen the multigenerational workforce enrich the organization?
SHEETS: That's a great question. In many ways, it’s fun to see what the generations can learn from one another. My 16-year-old daughter is a junior volunteer at our hospital. She sits right next to Patsy, who is 82. It’s great to see the two of them collaborating in the surgery waiting room. My daughter Hanna comes home and shares with us what she has learned from Patsy. They both get enjoyment from the relationship. Patsy is a former nurse, so she has a lot to share. And we see that in all areas of the organization. The millennials can win over the stable, stoic traditionalists and the baby boomers. And they can build relationships that help us focus on the care we deliver.
SMITH: For me, working across the generations has been one of the fun parts of my job. I enjoy watching the relationships build across generations. And now, the baby boomers are moving to another stage of their careers and it’s not so much driven by money. Benefits are probably more important to them than financial compensation. It’s an interesting time.
MALANEY: A few years ago, I chaired the AHA’s Committee on Geographic Variation. In some ways, it was earth-shattering for me. Variation in care in our country is unbelievable. To reduce variation, we have to reduce variation in our workforce. To eliminate disparities in care, we get rid of variation; and the way we’re going to get rid of variation is to have high expectations and work really hard to choose people who are committed to the mission of doing it right every time. There are wonderful people who will give their heart and soul to your mission in every age group. You just have to find them, and that’s hard. Variation is bad enough; disparity is sickening. We have to set the standards and find the right people.
RICE: One of my core values, and I think for the University of California, is that diversity makes for a stronger organization and enables us to provide greater levels of service to the patients we serve. Diversity comes in a lot of different forms. Diversity in age is a very important element and puts us in a better position to serve our diverse patient population.
DOMANICO: The real advantage that we’re seeing is in the technology arena. Adoption of technology is increasing, particularly on the nonmedical side of the hospital. Having the younger generation there to facilitate that gives all levels of the organization the opportunity to contribute. And it creates empowerment. That’s one of the advantages of having a multigenerational workforce.
MULLINS: Well, just following on that theme, the intergenerational differences, while challenging, may also be our greatest strength because it provides us a greater array of resources and experiences from which to draw.
SCANLAN: As health care leaders, our success is based on organizational strength and longevity of life, and that is always dependent upon those whom we bring together to work. So, finding the strengths of the different generations is really what it’s all about
CALDWELL: By having the diversity of thought that the different generations bring to the table, makes an organization much fuller. It challenges everyone to think. I’ve learned a great deal.