Nobody likes change. Yet everyone needs to adapt to keep up with the numerous changes happening around us. Technology is one area that is changing so rapidly, it challenges all of us to keep up. In my role at Voalte, one of my responsibilities is to work with clinicians and hospital support staff to ease their transition to smartphones for secure care team communication. While everyone’s experience is unique, there are distinct patterns in how people of different ages adapt to new technology.
Several years ago, as part of my Master’s program, I created a case study on generational differences within the workplace.1 While my study involved the hospitality industry, many of the same principles apply to healthcare and the implementation of new smartphone technology. With three or four generations working together, the dynamic hospital environment calls for innovation, mutual understanding and respect. Not only do we have to understand how different generations learn and work together, we also need to focus on how they adapt to change.
Today’s workplace includes Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1977) and Generation Y/Millennials (1978-2000). Generally speaking, Baby Boomers are resistant to change and can feel betrayed by re-engineering and restriction, but believe they are capable of improving situations. Those in Generation X both expect and demand change. They tend to be adaptive to these changes and embrace diversity. Generation Y/Millennials are addicted to and embrace change.2 By understanding the differences between generations, perhaps we can ease the implementation of organizational technology initiatives and support adoption of new systems like Voalte Platform.
When planning to train and educate end users as part of our implementation process, I often hear that many staff members will “catch on quickly” because “it’s just a smartphone.” But it’s important to remember that Voalte Platform is so much more than a phone, and involves new workflows and processes that require some adjustments.
A Baby Boomer nurse, for example, is probably comfortable making phone calls and receiving communication via a landline. With the availability of secure texting, we are entirely changing how this nurse works. We need to be respectful of these learning opportunities and make sure she or he has the appropriate education prior to go-live, such as Voalte classroom training or shoulder-to-shoulder training from a super-user. A Millennial nurse, on the other hand, may benefit from an online-only education approach. Millennials demonstrate behavioral trends that are influencing other generations throughout the world.3 If we allow the opportunity for the Millennial nurse to become a valuable, Voalte “super user” within his or her department, it may ease the transition for other generations to embrace the smartphone implementation.
When implementing Voalte Me, a BYOD app used primarily by physicians and hospital leadership on their personal smartphones, I’ve noticed that younger generations easily understand how to download, install and log in to the application, while more seasoned doctors or leaders may struggle. Recently, a physician simply handed me his Apple iPhone because he became frustrated that he didn’t know where to find the App Store or how to download an app.
So what can hospital organizations do to better prepare all end users for go-live and smartphone implementation? Here are some recommendations based on my experience:
- Leverage younger employees to assist the older generation. Some hospitals have success in training Millennials as super users who can then assist other staff members in their department. We cannot forget that the older generations are often precepting these newly graduated Millennial nurses – this approach of “switching roles” may help build rapport within departments.
- Host a “Genius Bar” in your physician break room or lounge that provides shoulder-to-shoulder Voalte Me setup and application login tips and tricks for those on the go.
- Offer training options. As discussed, each generation learns and adapts to change differently. Try requiring online education, followed by a hands-on, classroom-style approach. The Voalte Implementation and Clinical Workflow Solutions teams are part of the project plan to cater to hospital-specific needs and wants, including best practices for training end users.
- Schedule your super users out of rotation for day one/week of go-live. These valuable resources can be the first line of defense and alleviate minor help desk tickets.
- Understand that workflows will change, so take advantage of your Voalte team’s expertise in managing these transitions. The quicker your staff sees how a secure care collaboration platform can make their jobs easier, the sooner they will embrace the new technology.
By understanding how the different generations on your staff adapt to change, you can accommodate their needs and truly take care collaboration to the next level.
Brendan Davis is Clinical Solutions Consultant at Voalte.
1. “Effective Management Strategies: Millennial Leaders Managing a Multigenerational Workplace,” Brendan W. Davis, Mathilda Van Niekerk and Fevzi Okumus
2. Adapted from Zopiatis, A., Krambia-Kapardis, M., & Varnavas, A. (2012). Y-ers, X-ers and boomers: Investigating the multigenerational (mis)perceptions in the hospitality workplace. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 12(2), 101-121.
3. Crews, T. B., Kline, S. F., & Sox, C. B. (2014). Identifying best practices, opportunities and barriers in meeting planning for Generation Y. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 36, 244-254.