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Working Across Generations

Posted April 18, 2019

Amanda Hill

I recently attended a dental convention and on the exhibit hall floor I heard the same complaint over and over again: “It’s so hard to find good staff and even harder to keep them.” There was a resounding generational complaint, “These Millennials just don’t have any commitment.” A dentist who is obviously a Baby Boomer shared the tale of his latest hygienist. “Bethany” had just quit, and on her last day, she left him a letter saying she left because she didn’t feel appreciated. Dr. Baby Boomer declared, “what did she mean, she didn’t feel appreciated? I’m supposed to thank her for doing her job?” I inquired if he had ever given her some positive feedback or told her he liked how she handled a particular patient. He replied, “of course not, you want me to give her a trophy every day for doing her job?” Here we go, back to the trophies. Listen, it’s not the millennials fault they got trophies, it was the previous generation buying them! Bethany did him a huge favor by communicating her issue, it’s possible she had said it to Dr. Baby Boomer in the time she was there, and it fell on deaf ears, or maybe she just worked up the courage to put in on paper and walk out. It’s important to recognize that each generation, heck each person, has a different need, a different drive, that keeps them coming to work each day and feeling fulfilled. And if there is a true desire to curb staff turnover it’s important to figure out what makes each staff member thrive.

While the years vary all over the internet, the generations can be broken down something like this:

  • 1946-1964 Baby Boomers
  • 1965-1976 Gen X 
  • 1977-1995 Millennials or Gen Y
  • 1996- present Gen Z

Each generation presents its own stereotypes, its own pros and cons, especially in the workforce. Countless articles have been written about Millennials and their self-absorbed coddled nature, but they have also been labeled entrepreneurs.  They prefer direct communication and feedback and want a social, friendly environment. Millennials are ambitious multi-taskers who combine work and play and never disconnect from technology. Compare that to Gen Xers who have been stereotyped as self-reliant with a strong work-life balance. They prefer to communicate directly with leaders and want fewer rules. Baby Boomers on the other hand are disciplined workaholics who get personal fulfillment from work. While we are still trying to figure out exactly who Gen Z is, they seem to be reverting back to the Baby Boomers. Desiring mentorship, hard work and a meaningful career.

So how do we work together, when we work differently? It starts with learning about ourselves, each other and hiring smarter. DentalPost was created to help offices not only fill their staffing needs but to find the right fit, so you’re not doing this again in a few months. Take advantage of the career assessments available on DentalPost.net. These tools are perfect for not only helping you hire but also helping you understand your current staff. Have your whole team download the DentalPost app, take the assessments and then come together at a staff meeting to discuss the results. You might just find ways to bring yourself and your team greater job satisfaction.


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