How to Attract and Retain Millennial Healthcare Workers (+ Examples and Free Checklist)

12 min read

Over the next few years, the workplace will experience one of its biggest shake-ups ever.

As Baby Boomers and Gen Xer’s edge into retirement, millennials are waiting in the wings to take over. According to a report by the Governance Studies at Brookings, by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the entire US workforce.

And they expect your hiring process to reflect the same level of technological sophistication they're used to in their daily lives. If it doesn’t, they won’t apply. 

For recruiters and hiring managers in the notoriously tight healthcare market, it’s a whole new game. If you want to win, you’re going to need to think outside-the-box.

Whether you’re a hospital or health tech startup—your old recruitment strategy isn’t going to snag you the talent you need. So, what will?

In this unmissable guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to attract and retain the best millennial healthcare workers for your organization.

TL;DR: How to Attract and Retain Millennial Healthcare Workers in 4 Simple Steps

  • Step 1. Know what millennials want
  • Step 2.  Position your employer brand to attract millennials
  • Step 3. Improve the candidate experience
  • Step 4. Prove your commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Bonus Step: Screen for high Emotional Intelligence

How are millennial healthcare employees different?

Despite their rep as the “snowflake generation”, millennials are ambitious, hardworking, knowledge-hungry and social media savvy. But as they begin to settle down and start families, their priorities are changing. 

Here are a few characteristics that set millennial workers apart:

  • Socially driven: More than any previous generation, millennials are driven by social consciousness—they value purpose and meaning. According to a Gallup report, 59% of millennials say the opportunity to learn and grow is extremely important to them when applying for a job.
  • Focused on work/life balance: Pay matters to millennials but in the words of Brandon Rigone of the Harvard Business Review, “Ultimately, millennials are consumers of the workplace. They shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals.”
  • More than ping pong tables: Sure, an office rec room is fun and everything. But it fuels a certain stereotype that’s not quite true. What really matters to millennials is a transparent, open and honest working environment. One where they can be who they are and know where they stand.
  • Company culture matters: Millennials aren’t just interested in what their managers think about them, they value the opinions of their peers, too. Consider what’s special about your management structures, performance reviews and career development opportunities. These cultural factors are what matter most to millennial candidates.
  • Ambitious and adventure-seeking: Gallup also found that 87% of millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. They want to sharpen their skills, have access to training and see a career trajectory that takes them into management and leadership roles.

Now that we know what makes millennials tick, let’s break down how healthcare businesses can beat the competition and score awesome Gen-Y talent for their teams.

Step 1. Know what millennials want

What do you get when you mix groundbreaking tech disruptions with crippling talent shortages? 

A completely candidate-driven market.

As the competition for healthcare talent reaches fever pitch, a long walk in the candidate’s shoes is a must. But do you know what your candidates really want?

Here’s a few need-to-know pointers to get you started:

Work/life balance

Flexible working is one of the biggest motivators for changing jobs.

The most competitive healthcare companies offer plenty of work/life perks to help reduce the risk of burnout. For example, at many hospitals and clinics, nurses can design their own schedules, medical transcriptionists can work remotely and clinicians have the option of choosing flexible shifts like 5-days on, 5-days off.

But if you really want to stand out to candidates, consider offering child care and work from home options to show them you care about their family lives, too.

Compensation

Hot on the heels of work/life balance, is the compensation package.

But more than just salary, every package needs to reflect the changing financial and lifestyle goals of the individual worker. Junior healthcare workers may be more interested in debt relief stipends and forgiveness programs, while an experienced doctor with decades in the game might prefer stock options or a healthy retirement package.

Health insurance

In a 2016 survey by Glassdoor, employees rated health insurance as the most important benefit, followed by paid leave and a pension plan.

Health insurance is important for every type of employee but in healthcare, it matters even more. Candidates know firsthand just how expensive it can be—they want to make sure they’re covered. Consider going above and beyond traditional insurance offerings to include coverage for partners in non-married couples (which, by the way, is an important perk in states where gay marriage is not yet legal).

Growth opportunities

Don’t assume all candidates will prioritize traditional benefits packages—some won’t.

In fact, many candidates value learning and development opportunities, like mentoring and career growth, above all else. And as a major bonus to employers, the Wharton School of Business found a positive correlation between mentoring and employee productivity, engagement and retention.

Example #1: Growing your own talent at Southern Ohio Medical Center

This rural community hospital from Ohio ranked #3 on Fortune's Best Companies to Work For in healthcare and biopharma in 2018, in part due to a firm commitment to moving their people up the org chart.

How they do it

At Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC), 93% of employees say their workplace is great

Great challenges, atmosphere, rewards, communication, bosses—you name it. It's great. 👍🏾

And the reasons are pretty obvious. For starters, the company has always had a "Grow Our Own” philosophy.

The fact that they're located in a small, rural location makes the need for an always hot talent pipeline an absolute must. According to SOMC's official Great Place to Work profile, “Since it is often difficult to attract key talent into this area, a key strategy is to ‘grow our own.’ Advancement within the facility is welcomed and supported by internal and external educational opportunities. The majority of SOMC leaders including all the executives worked in other positions before assuming their current roles.”

SOMC might be one of the few healthcare brands where employees know that climbing the ladder is 100% doable.

What makes them shine

Advancement opportunities at SOMC aren't limited to lateral moves.

The medical center supports leadership development opportunities for any employee who shows an interest in becoming a great leader. Together, teams review case studies and role-play how they would coach each other in a given situation. Dedicated leadership groups include: Leadership Rounds, Coaching Group, Next-Gen Leaders, CORE Leadership classes and the Leadership Jump Start for new leaders. For the career-minded millennial, it’s an awesome opportunity that can lead to many more.

Check out this nifty word cloud from SOMC’s career page. At a glance, candidates can easily see what kind of culture they’re entering into.

Step 2.  Position your employer brand to attract millennials

Once you’ve got the above points nailed, you’ve essentially knocked out two talent management birds with the same stone—you have what you need to both attract and retain millennial employees.

Now, it’s time to spread the word. 📣

Over 80% of leaders acknowledge employer branding as having a significant impact on their ability to hire talent, so it’s essential your employer brand is clearly aligned with millennial values.

Here’s how to position your employer brand at the top:

Be open about inclusion

Staffing firm AMN Healthcare’s employer brand message promotes their open, honest and inclusive work environment. Its primary communication tool is social media where they share behind-the-scenes images that illustrate how their culture plays out in real life. (More on that in a minute.)

“You might have this nice little mission statement, but if you aren’t actually seeing and hearing inclusion happen on a daily basis throughout the organization, then that mission statement doesn’t mean much," says CEO, Susan Salka.

We couldn't agree more. Here are a few other ways to put your words into action.

Be bold about your benefits

Attracting awesome millennial talent doesn't mean you need to break the budget

Take some time to focus on the most impactful benefits for your ideal candidates and whatever you do, don’t bury your perks at the bottom of your job ad. 

Instead, play them all the way up. Build your benefits around your mission statement and core values to let potential candidates know both how and why your employment packages are better than the rest.

Rally your brand ambassadors

There’s nothing keeping you from utilizing your employees to help make your brand more authentic.

To give your brand a personal voice, ask employees to share their real reviews and stories on your Glassdoor, social media profiles or anywhere else potential candidates can bump into you online. Peer recommendations will prevail over generic videos and stock photos every time. 

Rally your teams to become your employer brand ambassadors and you’ll be surprised how quickly they'll jump at the chance to help out.

Get your tech straight

Jason Dorsey, co-founder and millennial researcher at The Center for Generational Kinetics, believes the prevailing challenge for children’s hospitals is their ability (or lack thereof) to recruit millennial employees.

Faced with many misconceptions about what kind of working environment they offer, Dorsey suggests, “sharing behind-the-scenes videos talking to the culture, how you’re involved in the community and playing up the human side…”

Whether you’re a children’s hospital or a healthcare equipment manufacturer, every healthcare business is a human-focused business. Use the inherent importance of your mission to build a real connection with millennial candidates. 💖

Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Does your social media presence reflect your commitment to mission?
  • Is your website compelling and easy to navigate?
  • What’s your Glassdoor rating? How can you improve it?

Sometimes the best ideas come from other industries. If you need a little more inspiration, check out the techniques used by these awesomely effective employer brands.

Example #2: Recruiting with mission at SOPHiA GENETICS

This next example shows how giving your employees a voice and a clear stake in your mission can help attract more rockstars to your team.

How they do it

SOPHiA GENETICS is a Swiss-based company with offices all over the world.

The company created a game-changing AI, and accompanying SaaS platform, to help clinicians in over 850 hospitals get better, faster and more accurate diagnoses for patients.

Due to the highly technical nature of their work, SOPHiA GENETICS' talent requirements run the gamut. From data computing experts, to bioinformaticians and global business development reps—they need all the highly-driven and expertly trained talent they can get.

What makes them shine

Like any other employer brand, SOPHiA GENETICS posts ads online and in local media. But unlike many employers, they regularly have candidates coming to them

The reason? An irresistibly inspiring company mission. 

Take a look at what their Supply Chain Manager has to say about the job. "The ambiance we have in the company is simply incredible. What we do is important and the people we get to work with are amazing. Working at SOPHiA GENETICS, you know that you are doing something good and are making a meaningful difference in patients’ lives."

No other industry has a more inspiring mission. Use it to your advantage.


Each month SOPHiA GENETICS features an in-depth personal profile on one of its star players in the company email newsletter.

Step 3. Improve the candidate experience

First impressions matter.

And in the cutthroat world of healthcare hiring, candidate experience could be the one thing that entices someone to accept your offer over your competitor’s.

Millennial candidates expect the application process to be of a certain standard. What they don’t want is to spend ages trawling through multiple job boards, traveling long distances to attend interviews, or wasting time trying to fill out wonky application forms on a mobile screen.

If you want to score the best talent before your competitors even know what hit them, you need to give potential candidates everything they need to make applying a no-brainer.

Here are a few areas you may want to improve:

  • Get friendly with tech: Technology is your gateway to millennial talent, so make the most of it. Tools like custom career sites, video interviews and automated scheduling make it clear to candidates that, like them, you’re bullish on tech.
  • Simplify your processes: How many different systems do you use for recruitment and hiring? Hint: More than two is too many. Fix it by investing in smart automation. Look for centralized recruitment tech with an open API.
  • Think remote recruitment: Meet your candidates where they are. Use SMS, video and remote work opportunities to make the recruitment process feel easy, natural and fun.
  • Ace your job ads: Above all, millennials want to know what you can do for them. Survey existing employees to find out what attracted them to the company and how you can improve your offer.
  • Think outside-the-box: Ditch the old pathway of job-boards-to-job-hire and embrace incentivized employee referral programs, targeted sourcing techniques and long-term candidate nurture to both broaden and deepen your talent pools.
  • Meet candidates on-the-go: Make sure candidates of all ages have everything they need to find and apply for your open positions, straight from their mobile phones. And if you really want to go for gold, why not let them set up an interview in a matter of minutes via SMS?
  • Master the job boards: You might have a great job ad, but will it reach your target audience? Use an ATS to automatically post to top-performing job boards, create a pipeline based on targeted pools of talent, and use predictive analytics to help determine where, when and how you can target specific candidates.
  • Automate your processes: To attract the best talent, you need to think long-term. With the right applicant tracking system you can easily set up an automated candidate nurture sequence that does the heavy lifting for you, plus you'll have a dedicated place to keep track of all your notes and candidate communications.
  • Become a feedback wizard: If you say you’re going to call someone back, do it. An erratic process can leave the candidates feeling confused, frustrated, ignored and detached. By being consistent, you’ll build trust and maintain your reputation as a trustworthy employer brand.

Ready for an Applicant Tracking System that does it all? Try Breezy for free! 

Example #3: Education🎓 + Healthcare🏥 = Candidate 💓 at Providence St. Joseph

Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH) is one of the biggest healthcare systems in the US, ranking #8 in the top 300 US-based companies on the Forbes 2018 list.

And as you'd expect, they go big for their employees.

How they do it

In 2017, the company realized there was a high demand for more education within the healthcare talent market. So they came up with their own unique way to get the right people on board: they opened a university.

The University of Great Falls in Montana is now the University of Providence. Not only that, there’s a brand new School of Health Professions, offering a variety of online courses and certificate programs for PSJH’s employees.

But PSJH's learning opportunities go well beyond retention—the university is also a future-proof recruitment tool.

By funding programs in markets where there’s a huge need for specialized staff, like nursing for example, PSJH can better navigate the impending talent crisis. "Over the next 10 years we will need to hire fourfold what we have to hire now," says Deborah Burton, Chief Nursing Officer.

Recruiters for PSJH know exactly how to position the subsidized learning opportunities as a major perk and help keep the candidate pipeline full.

What makes them shine

Beyond using L&D to bridge their own talent gaps, PSJH does a great job of keeping it human.

"Our 118,000 caregivers are our most important asset. By welcoming, mentoring and nurturing new graduates, we ensure we have the compassionate and talented team we need to care for our communities today and in the future," says Rod Hochman, MD and CEO.

No wonder Forbes named them the 9th Best Employer in the US for New Graduates in 2018. 👏


Pro Tip Alert: Take a page from Providence St. Joseph’s book and add employee video testimonials to your Careers Page for a candidate experience millennials can trust.


Step 4. Prove your commitment to diversity and inclusion

And as the most diverse generation in US history, millennial job seekers care about your D&I track record.

Once you’ve updated your careers page and job ads to accurately reflect your commitment to diversity, it’s time to show your healthcare candidates you’re ready to walk the walk.

Example #4: AMN Healthcare - The forerunner in diversity and transparency

As mentioned earlier, AMN Healthcare offers healthcare workforce solutions and staffing services in the US. And the company’s CEO, Susan Salka, strongly believes in embracing diversity.

How they do it

Unlike many employers, AMN Healthcare doesn't just say they seek diversity—they mean it. 

Hiring teams at AMN constantly evaluate their data to make sure they're just as inclusive as they say they are.

Here's Salka's top recommendation for companies who want to stay true to their candidates, and to themselves.

“The first piece of advice I would have for people is to really put a lens of metrics on what you say you want to do. And I think a mistake people make is they have programs and nice mission statements and charters, but they forget to actually measure those statements. Start with the baseline to say, ‘Where are we today?’”

What makes them shine

Two-thirds of the entire workforce at AMN are women—including half the executives—and about one-third of the team is non-white. (Did we mention they walk the walk?)

But measuring diversity isn't the only talent tactic Salka and her HR teams insist on. She also makes sure she's available to communicate with employees at all levels. That means making herself approachable. “You might have this nice little mission statement, but if you aren’t actually seeing and hearing inclusion happen on a daily basis throughout the organization, then that mission statement doesn’t mean much. And so one of the things that I do is I walk the floors a lot,” she says.

Recent research from Harvard revealed that 12% of employees left a job due to uncivil treatment. With an approach like AMN's, you can be the one waiting to welcome those top-performers with open arms.


The AMN crew is so in sync they even dress alike. Photo: Instagram


Ready to step up your D&I game? Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Best Job Boards for Diversity Hiring.

Bonus Step: Screen for high Emotional Intelligence (EI)

While we all enjoy watching the brilliant Dr. House on TV, in real life no patient wants to be treated like crap. That’s why soft skills like patience and empathy are must-haves in the healthcare industry. 

And for millennials looking for a strong sense of wellbeing in the workplace, high-EI employees should be on the top of your hiring agenda.

Use video to screen healthcare applicants and candidates

Video interviewing is a great screening tool to help find healthcare candidates with great camera (and bedside) presence.

Emotionally intelligent candidates will be friendly but focused. They're likely to be the ones that have no problem speaking straight into the camera or sharing a laugh, while still keeping it professional.

As a major bonus, the Harvard Business Review found that 87% of remote workers feel more connected when using video conferencing. In addition to being a great screening tool, video also enhances the candidate experience and helps you create a bond with future employees even before a contract is signed.


In Breezy, it’s easy to schedule interviews without annoying anyone. Simply drag and drop interviews into an open time slot and you’re good to go. You can also choose to add video with a single click or tap. 


Dig deeper to uncover behavioral insights

Recruiting for high-EI candidates is tough.

That’s why some recruiters like to use behavioral interviewing to find out how candidates deal with challenges and, most importantly—how they relate to others. “At the very least this tells if the person is aware of their own feelings and how they manage them (all of which add up to EI),” points out HBR.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Make sure candidates are as comfortable as possible by setting up an informal environment—we want them to loosen up and be honest.
  • Ask candidates to tell you about a difficult work situation they overcame and were proud of.
  • Then, ask them to describe an unfortunate work case where they fell short and what it taught them.

Really listen

Vocal cues can give you great insight into a candidate's personality. 

Some companies are even using AI-powered speech analysis tools to help figure out which of their call center employees are most deserving of a promotion.

Tone, volume, pace—all of these things can offer up hints about a person's level of interest, enthusiasm and empathy. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just about what they say—but how they say it.

Ready for the next generation of healthcare talent?

If you want to attract the best millennial employees for your healthcare business, you need to think long-term.

Just as the focus of healthcare should always be on creating better outcomes for patients, the focus for healthcare hiring should be on what you can do to provide a better experience for your candidates. 

If that sounds like a lot of work, don't worry. With the right applicant tracking system you can easily set up an automated candidate nurture sequence that does the heavy lifting for you, plus you'll have a dedicated place to keep track of all your notes and candidate communications.

Because if you really want to stand out in a tight talent market, you've got to be willing to do the things other employers won't. If you can do that, the right millennials will find you.

Download the Millennial Healthcare Hiring Checklist

This handy checklist will keep these 4 simple healthcare hiring steps handy right when you need them.

Get My Checklist

Related Stories