Podcast #28

YOLO written with sparklers in the dark
Let’s talk about Millennials:
Millennials are those born between 1981 to 1996.

They are the first generation that is fully fluent and comfortable with technology, are less concerned about following the ‘expected life path’ and more concerned about ‘living life to the fullest’ (YOLO anyone?). They are less concerned with material things, and are less motivated by money and more motivated by experiences and opportunities. They are often open-minded, curious, confident, ambitious and goal-achieving, and are not afraid to question authority. They also have higher expectations of employers.

On the other side …Millennials are also considered narcissistic and entitled and sometimes called lazy.

For the employer that wants an employee to come in, work hard for sub-par pay, no opportunities for personal growth and no ability for the employee to make their mark or perform to their own personal expectations (cough cough- the clinic that pushes ‘this is how I have always done it’), millennials are going to come off as lazy, subordinate, and entitled.

Lazy because they refuse to see 10 consults an hour because they want to do a good job with each consult… subordinate because they won’t be afraid to tell their boss that what they are doing is outdated and they won’t take part… and entitled because they demand to be paid appropriately for their work, instead of just being ‘grateful for the opportunity’ to work.

For the employer that is progressive, keen to grow, wants to have a good work environment and team, and is willing to treat employees well and provide opportunity (all of which leads to a better and more profitable business by the way…), millennials are AMAZING!

See the difference?
The ‘Gig Economy’:
black and white photo of a band on a stage.
Understanding the new ‘Gig Economy’ can help you understand what employees want.
Whether you believe millennials are entitled and lazy, or industrious and virtuous, you have to hire them! Millennials are now the majority of the work force, so knowing how to make them happy, and keep them employed, is important.

Before we look at ways to keep millennials in your doors however, we need to look how the current job market is changing…

We are in the world of the ‘Gig Economy’. This refers to the nature of employment changing from the ‘get a job, stay in that job, be loyal to that job, and that job will protect and take care of you in return’ to the more temporary, contract based. Like a band getting a ‘gig’, employment is now viewed more as a temporary situation, where employees can learn, grow, and then move on to bigger and better things.

Millennials are motivated by learning and opportunities, and are keen to advance their professions. Millennials will work VERY hard to achieve their goals, and they crave responsibility, accountability and progression in their careers! They however will not tolerate inauthenticity, and will not stay in a profession for a sense of loyalty if that loyalty is not returned.

The reality is that most employers no longer have any sense of loyalty to their employees. More and more employees feel ‘replaceable’ and feel their employers have no care for their development, growth or continued employment, and strictly care about their immediate bottom line.
pile of garbage including disposable cups
‘Boomers’ are accused of not addressing the problems of pollution. Just as they treat their cups as disposable, as do they typically treat their staff.
This is evident when:
- Relationship dynamics suddenly change when employees advocate for themselves
- Promised incentives are denied
- Deserved raises are denied in lieu of hiring a cheaper alternative
- Opportunities for growth are denied
- Poor work conditions/environment are ignored
- ‘Miscommunications’ regarding compensation are common and at the cost of the employee
- Client retention is prioritized at all costs (often at the cost of the mental health of staff)
- Revolving door of staff
- Lack of training/investment into growth of employees
How to Hire and Keep Millennials:
Just like a good Keep-Cup, millennials are more expensive up front but save money and your work-environment in the long run!
Millennials are multi-taskers. They want variety, they want to be engaged, and the DON’T want to be on a production line. Having a variety of tasks and allowing staff to pursue personal interests is imperative.


Millennials crave responsibility. They want to feel important, they want to have control and want to be in charge of tasks. By giving them tasks or projects in which they are in charge, and have freedom to accomplish the tasks as they see fit, is important. Millennials DO NOT want to be micro-managed.


Since millennials can often be side-tracked and sometimes easily distracted, having accountability is important. This will not only will keep those industrious millennials on task, but it will help with the sense of responsibility you are trying to create.

Millennials do not buy into the ‘I’m older therefore I am smarter’ mentality. Millennials give respect to those that have earned it, and have immense loyalty to those that show them mutual respect. By respecting the ideas, values and work of your employees you will better earn their respect, as they won’t feel you are dismissing them for their ‘youth’.
In this information age, especially in the world of medicine that changes so quickly, your ‘young’ staff may know way more than you. Respect, value and UTILIZE their knowledge!

If you fail to incorporate new ideas your clinic will become stagnant and outdated. Also, the ENERGY that ‘young’ staff bring to your clinic is imperative and will be felt by existing staff and clients alike!
Millennials will not fall into the mentality of ‘I am lucky to have a job’. More and more millennials would rather have no job, than a job that isn’t ‘the right job’. Compensation is not only a way to show respect and value, which is so important to millennials, but also is a way to keep employees that will no longer be happy with the bare minimum compensation. To keep a millennial you need to pay them appropriately, because they will not be afraid to challenge you if you are underpaying, and are not afraid to leave a job for one that will pay appropriately! They are confident, and in the veterinary world, they are aware that there are many jobs available, and the clinics need them more than they need the clinics!

Millennials look for opportunities. One way to accomplish this, if your clinic can’t provide those opportunities within their own clinic, is to work with neighbouring clinics for ‘clinic swaps’ or group learning nights, to increase the employees exposure and experience. Specialty centres will often hold educational tutorials, or ‘morbidity and mortality rounds’. See if you are able to have your staff attend these sessions. Collaborate with the clinics around you to expand the opportunities you can offer your staff.

Sign of a dog that says 'Please No Trespooping We Shih Tzu Not!'
Millennials don’t tolerate bullshit! Be honest and open with them, and show them true loyalty, and you will be rewarded 100-fold!
Millennials hold their values HIGH. They aren’t afraid of authority and don’t tolerate bullshit. They will call you out! Don’t make promises that you don’t keep, and don’t make agreements and then hold out on your end of the bargain on a technicality. Millennials crave authenticity, they want to work for a company/employer that cares, and that is true to their word. Be true to your employees, and have standards! Also, be honest with your employees. If they aren’t performing, sit them down and tell them how and why, and work together to help them improve. Millennials will appreciate your honesty!

Millennials don’t often fall into the typical life-style that was traditionally desired of the 9-5 job. Talk with your employees, figure out what they want in terms of schedule, perks, continued education, etc. Some employees may like working early but having shorter days, others may like working longer days but less days. Some may desire a lower salary but higher discounts on pet care or more continued education allowance, while others may not care about perks at all and just want the highest salary possible. TALK TO YOUR STAFF and see what they want, and what they need!

Millennials are socially conscious. Working with a company or clinic that gives back in some way or another, or has a social agenda, is helpful. You can even talk to your staff and see what is important to them, and support any projects your staff may wish to pursue. It could be that you do charity runs together, or have a ‘spay and neuter day’ every few months to help with trap-neuter-release projects. Showing your staff that you support their values, and giving them power and reign to contribute to a cause they care about, will go leaps and bounds with your millennial staff.

Last but definitely not least, millennials want opportunities for growth. This is one of the most important things you can do. Talk to your staff, figure out what makes them tick, figure out what they want to learn to have professional growth, and MAKE IT HAPPEN! If it is something your clinic doesn’t have, consider this an opportunity for your clinic to grow! Give your staff opportunity to grow professionally, become manager, control aspects of the clinic, teach staff, etc. Millennials will not be happy being stagnant, and you need to continue to provide opportunities or they will find them elsewhere!

Millennials are AMAZING. They work very hard, care immensely, and are incredibly valuable commodities for your clinic if you just give them the opportunities they need. They will grow your business with their authenticity and desire to learn, which will come across to your clients 100-fold if you encourage them!

If you are a clinic, and are having trouble retaining staff and want to have a conversation about how to attract today's employee, feel free to Contact Us or sign up for our KICK ASS Consulting .
Written by Dr. Ann Herbst BSc, DVM

Published February 21st, 2020

Advocate for yourself, you are the only one that will!

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