Podcast: How Your Rural Hospital Can Thrive in a Multigenerational Market

Sep. 04, 2019


Here is your sneak peak of what you can expect at our presentation during this year's NRHA Critical Access Hospital Conference. Listen to Michael Coyle, CEO of Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital and Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing discuss the importance of internal communication for a highly engaged workforce.


Mike Milligan: Hello rural healthcare leaders. I’m Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing and joining me is Michael Coyle, CEO of Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital in Ely Minnesota. Michael and I are going to be presenting on innovative strategies to increase employee engagement and drive growth. We will be speaking on this at the National Rural Health Association Conference on September 19th in Kansas City, and today we wanted to take a couple minutes to give you a quick preview of what we will be talking about.

Before I ask Michael a couple of questions, I just wanted to share a little more about this presentation. It’s going to make you think and it’s going to help you view intergenerational communication from a whole new perspective. We’re going to address things like:

  • How do we build the strongest workforce possible in an environment where recruiting the best talent can be challenging in a rural area?
  • How do we assess the abilities and build up our employees according to their strengths?
  • How do we capitalize on an engaged workforce to attract new patients to our rural healthcare organization?

We’re going to answer these questions and others, and likely share a few stories along the way. So Michael, why is recognizing intergenerational difference so important and why can’t people just fall in line and do what they’re told?

Michael Coyle: Well thanks Mike, and I’m excited to be talking about this important topic at the upcoming conference. There are several reasons why folks just cant seem to fall in line when it comes to working in healthcare organizations. First of all, you have to realize we are working with five different generations now and each has some specific characteristics that are associated with them. This becomes increasingly difficult when you’re in a small rural hospital, where the access to a broad workforce group is limited. You may want a specific type of person in a role, but just don’t have that opportunity.

So when we talk about intergenerational relationship building, we just have to understand how each person is wired, and as a leader or peer, how can I best talk to that person. Once we have that figured out, then we can get more people to fall in line. The problem we have is that we can’t see what people are thinking. We have to use some great skills to understand that, and once we do understand what they’re thinking, we are going to use the skills in this presentation to know how to best communicate with our peers.

Mike Milligan: Would you agree that this is more about understanding the generations, and not just looking at a generation and stereotyping them in some way? We need to understand, but the exercise is more about taking this knowledge and applying it to the different generations. 

Michael Coyle: Absolutely! The mistake is that people will pull something off of the Internet that says “Baby Boomers only like hardworking environments, they want to be team players and productive,” and then they put people into that category and don’t really understand that person. This is one of the biggest mistakes that leaders make. They identify with an age bracket and assume they know everything about motivating and inspiring that person. In reality, we have to figure out ways to look at more than just stereotypical characteristics. We have to look at the person and how they fall within their generation. Once we find that, we need to communicate early on about their preferences. We’re going to give some tools that allow leaders and peers to not only identify the generation, but also how to understand they way people think and give them some fun exercises to get to know them better. If you use all three of those, then you can help motivate and inspire somebody.

Mike Milligan: That was a nice little tease in terms of the tools you’re mentioning. Can you reference one that we’re going to covering in the presentation to assess our current employees and make sure we’re looking at the right candidates?

Michael Coyle: There’s a program out there called the Predictive Index that uses 6o years of psychology, it asks two questions, takes less than five minutes to answer, and then it develops a profile of whom you are. The coolest thing about this tool is there’s a section on how to break down barriers and start communicating with peers. The Predictive Index is one tool I’ll be talking about in the presentation. It’s an easy, cost effective way for hiring and for managing communication challenges within departments.

Another tool, that costs nothing, is the Get To Know You Tool. We ask questions about employee preferences in a fun manner. Questions like “what is your favorite superhero” or “what is your favorite pizza topping.” We ask these specifically to get to know the personality, but also to understand how the employee likes to be recognized. It’s an easy fun way to get to know your employees better than on a piece of paper or job description.

Mike Milligan: Why is this so important from an internal standpoint?

Michael Coyle: A company needs to look internally for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, is the financial longevity of the organization. When employees don’t get along, we see increased turnover, increased costs of recruitment and increased costs of retention. It just costs us more money that we could be using for something else. We need to have a program in place to better understand each other, so we can cut the costs of turnover, recruitment and retention But most importantly, we’re in this business to make sure people leave our building healthier than when they came in, and if we can better understand the people we work with we will have better communication skills and employee engagement. 

For example, let’s look at shift reporting. An outgoing group is talking to an incoming group and if we can’t communicate at that basic level about the cares needed for the patient, we are putting that patient at risk. Secondly, quality reimbursements will be reduced if we can’t make our patients healthier and meet federal quality guidelines. So that generational disconnect can cause financial and quality issues for an organization. 

Mike Milligan: Fantastic points, and I would just add that we know research shows there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and patient engagement. Thanks for the great points and joining us for a preview of our presentation in Kansas City at the National Rural Healthcare Association Conference on Thursday, September 19th at 9am in the exhibit hall. If you’re not able to make it, we are going to be doing a webinar after the fact and we’ll be promoting that as well. We hope to see you in Kansas City and stop by and see us at the booth 405! 

Website by: Craig Erskine

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