Remember that when we’re talking about millennials, we are talking in broad generalizations, these tips are by no means encompassing of all individuals within the millennial generation, just as those of us from previous generations do not fit completely inside the box of our generations generalizations.
First milestone to effectively communicating with your trainees, is for you to find out what platform your trainees are most responsive too. Phone calls tend to be a thing of the past, most people don’t even use their phones to call people anymore! Remember that this generation has grown up with instant messaging, texting and email, they aren’t even aware of a life without access to these types of communication. So best to try those form of communications first, email, text, or instant messaging apps.
PRO TIP: Millennials tend to like being able to give input into the workplace and things that will affect them (as most all of us do!), so we recommend that with each new incoming class you poll them on what their preferred methods of communications are. Make sure to add in the caveat that you will try to use their preferred method, but it is not always possible. Some things will be communicated via email, paging, phone calls, etc, on an as needed basis.
Keep it brief, but meaningful & don't be afraid to get playful
Millennials are masters of communicating meaningful in 140 characters or less (that is the character limit for a Twitter post), you should be too! To get their attention make your messages as concise
as possible, and your trainees with appreciate your efforts. The media that is popular now is a combination of
confidence, goofy and earnest. Think about recent popular memes, and social media channels like Buzzfeed and YouTube.
To reach this ambitious generation, you should recognize their intelligence. Present information in a fast-paced way through social media and in a way that helps them feel like they are making progress towards their goals. Being concise does not mean skimping on important details. Include what they need to know to complete the task, but skip nuances and overly flowery text.
24/7 Communications Residents and fellows work nontraditional schedules, scheduling digital communications to go out during non-office hours can be key to helping keep them in the loop. Remember that this generation can switch between devices up to 27 times an hour!! We need to keep messaging on point, and often, to capture fleeting attention spans. Successful content might include a tweet that can be consumed in seconds while waiting for coffee, a top-10 list that can be read in 10 minutes on the train, or a longer video or blog post that can be enjoyed in 20 minutes at home.
Don't condescend or make jokes about age Everyone has the right to expect that they are taken seriously while at work, millennial trainees are no different. Show respect to others, and others will show respect to you. Refrain from using terms like “Back in my day…” or “You all have had it too easy…” or any other age related jokes. These sorts of interactions can be tiresome and annoying, try to remember that you wouldn’t want someone to make fun of your points of view or life experiences, try not to do that to others.
Of most importance, nurture their passion The quickest way to get buy in or engagement from millennials is to nurture their passion! Their generation, perhaps more than previous, want to feel as though they are making a difference, both at work and in the word. This should be an easy win for those of us in healthcare! When possible, try to include how they are making a difference to their patients, to the hospital, and to their department. Use mission-driven terminology to communicate the overall purpose of your program, and their role in how it is achieving those goals.
Hopefully using some of these tips will help you to better communicate with your trainees. If you have any other tips or best practices on communicating with your residents/fellows, please share in the comments below!
Of special interest would be, are any programs using YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or Skype to stay connected with your trainees?? These are great tools to use for sending out continuous communication and updates to your residents and fellows, and I believe they are often underutilized by program leadership.
9/5/2017: Edit, someone shared this amazing chart with me & I wanted to share with all of you! Here are the top 10 mobile apps for each of the current generations in the workforce.