We at Straightaway are often confronted with the idea that CNAs are just in it for themselves. They leave at the drop of the hat. They aren’t ready to do the work. The general tone we keep hearing is that the CNAs are somehow at fault and not worthy of attention or care.
When we examine the data around why CNAs leave their jobs, from their own responses, we see a different picture. The CNAs themselves report that they leave because of:
- Poor relationships with supervisors
- Lack of respect, and
- Lack of career advancement (Decker, Harris, Kojetin, & Bercovitz, 2009)
Other reasons they cite are:
- Too few fellow staff members
- Lack of trained staff, and
- Supervisors who showed little interest and gave little value to CNAs (Decker et al., 2009)
Surprisingly, hourly pay does not seem to have an influence on turnover (Rosen et al., 2011).
So, if these things are at odds with one another, how do we change that? We need to look deeper than the CNA role itself. Coming into these roles is a whole other animal, namely for the millennial generation. Most new CNAs are younger, digitally savvy and have high expectations on their managers.
Wait a minute, Straightaway, what do you mean by expectations? They are here to do a job, aren’t they?
Well, yes. But if you are truly seeking change in turnover and to ingrain person-centric care in your facilities, you have to help them grow into roles that allow for longevity in their careers and position fulfillment at your organizations. This will require you to evaluate the way you teach, train, and interact with your CNA workforce. Your CNAs want to make a difference, so help them help you.
This is the first in a three-part series dedicated to addressing what millennials want out of careers as CNAs. We will concentrate here on what organizations can do for their millennial CNAs.
Let’s get started!
What do CNAs want from their organizations?
- They want to work for a company that has strong values. This generation, more than most, wants to feel like they are making a difference with their labor. The boomer generation raised them to want to contribute to a greater good, and in addition, the landscape of employment has changed while they were growing up. Factory jobs, staying at one place your entire career, typing pools — nothing is as it was when the boomer generation was making their way. Millennials are simply reacting to what they were taught and what they see in the world. The good news is, your organizations have values in spades. Healthcare appeals to many millennials who want to help their fellow man. But long-term care’s Achilles’ heel is that it has historically built its culture around its patients, residents and clients. And that isn’t a bad thing. But what millennial workers need is for that culture to prioritize them too. They want to be valued too. And they should be. What they do is the point-of-care support your customers need. They are the eyes and ears of what is going on with residents, a crucial position.
- They want an organization that can provide them a clear career path. Again, long-term care does this well. Many nurses and other healthcare workers get their start in a CNA role. But rather than leaving it up to them to grow into those higher level roles, you should analyze what you can offer to these workers so that they can progress within your organization. It’s so important to design career paths for the future, even if it is just tuition reimbursement for higher-level skills building. Robust organizations offer defined paths that employees can take to reach a variety of goals. Who better to take management and higher level roles than those who already know your organization inside and out.
- They want customizable options in benefits and rewards programs. Not everyone wants or needs the same things in life. Benefits and rewards programs are no different. And by options, we can’t promise the moon, but we can work to develop programs that have some level of customization. This is getting better with the inclusion of technology systems into HR options. Rewards and recognition programs are popular where employees can recognize others via points or tokens, for example. Examine what your benefits and rewards programs are doing today. If they are static, do the research, ask your employees what they need, and pick a realistic goal. Once you set goals, you can begin to incorporate choices in your benefits package.
- They want to work for an organization that will develop their skills for the future. Millennials not only want a career progression, but they are also all about innovation. If you want to change a process or include innovation in your delivery of services, put some millennials on the committee! In concert with your career planning for them, make sure they have a skills progression inside their current role. It keeps things fresh and gives workers something to look forward to and to master. Too many times we think we have to teach everything at once. This can lead to poor skill mastery which can, in turn, overwhelm your people. Give some thought to the levels of training you subject your employees to and whether or not it makes sense for what both you and your people need.
- Lastly, they are looking for positions that allow them to blend their work with the rest of their life. This one usually gets an eye roll or two, especially for older managers. But the fact is, work life balance matters — and millennials are passionate about it. Helping your employees can come in many shapes and sizes. Implementing programs that tend to your employees’ specific needs can make a huge impact. We once toured a senior care organization that recruited workers from a low income, high crime area. One of the perks this organization offered their employees was onsite daycare. They were able to bring their children to work — the residents loved it and the workers cherished it. One worker remarked, “The time we spend here is the safest time of our day.” When you walk a mile in their shoes, you can begin to see what matters to your CNAs and ways you can meet their needs to help them be their best.
If you are having trouble supporting and keeping your CNAs, there are a lot of areas you can examine just in the organizational realm alone. Join us for the next series blog where we will look at what millennials are specifically searching for in a supervisor.