Younger workers are often drawn to fun workplace cultures, hip offices and cutting-edge technology, according to scores of studies on millennials, and that puts home healthcare and hospice agencies at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting. Yet employers in those sectors are finding ways to attract a younger generation to the challenging work of caring for the sick, elderly and dying.
“Millennials are interested in the new and current; hospices are about death and dying,” says Kaaren Flint, community outreach and education specialist at the Hospice of the Northwest in Washington State. But Flint, who is 32, points to something else that the younger generation values and her workplace provides—a job with meaning and purpose.
“Everyday I get to come to work and educate people on how they can change the stigma around death and dying,” she says. “I can help families in need of support. I feel like I'm doing important work.”
And that's exactly what hospice employees are doing, said communications manager Dana Brothers.
“I cannot think of a field that makes more of an impact on a person and a family's life than hospice care,” she says. “People come to us in a panic and our team gives them the spiritual, social and medical support they need at a difficult time and they are hugely grateful.
Many of the millennials we work with are in administration but some are line staff caring for patients and their families. They know as soon as they walk in the door that they are making a difference.”
Of course, generous healthcare benefits, flexible schedules, and a $5 monthly gym membership at an affiliated hospital, don't hurt, according to Brothers. But she says that what her younger colleagues value more than the benefits is the sense of independence that the hospice fosters.
“We provide an environment where you don't sit and do the same thing every day,” she said. “Millennials like to step out of their comfort zone, and this field, this career, this team allow that to happen.”
As baby boomers age and the demand for hospice and home healthcare workers grows, attracting new talent to a field with a shortage of qualified workers and high turnover rates will be become more urgent in the coming years.