As of 2018, Millennials comprise over a third of today’s workforce. It’s past time to put the brakes on jibes about avocado toast, frappuccinos, and how many industries they’ve killed: Millennials are changing how the US works. From the growth of values-based company culture and work-life balance, to the growth of technology in the workplace, this generation’s values and opinions are reshaping every industry—including optometry.
In the 2020 Millennial Optometry Workforce Report, we explore what the values and opinions of Millennial and Gen Z optometrists mean for optometry hiring today. Rather than ask questions about salary and career growth like we did in the 2019 Optometrist Report, we focused on questions about culture, benefits, and work-life balance, and narrowed our group to those ODs born between 1981 and 1996.
In this report, we’re sharing our findings in order to help optometrists and practice owners understand what Millennial ODs really want in a job, and all the other things the industry must know to keep up with this vital cohort.
In the 2020 Optometry Millennial Workforce Report, we cover:
- Work-life balance: Just how much PTO do optometrists really want? And who wants to work weekends, anyway? (The answer might surprise you!)
- Salary vs benefits: What do ODs prefer: more money, or more perks and benefits?
- Location, location, location: Where do ODs want to work, and what draws them to a location?
- Values and social life: Do optometrists want volunteering opportunities and evidence of anti-bias efforts? What about happy hours, or long lunches with colleagues?
Just who are Millennials, anyway?
In 2020, Millennials range in age from 23 to 39. We surveyed 596 optometrists and optometry students born since 1981. Rather than do a simplistic analysis of this cohort, we chose to separate birth years in five-year segments, and included two years of members of Gen Z (those born since 1996).
We noticed that when we charted responses over birth years, those who were born within these five-year spans had very similar perspectives on issues like salary, benefits, and desirable positions, while a difference of even three years could have dramatic effects on the average responses.
We named each group Michael, Jessica, and Emily after the most common baby name during the years included in their segment. Check out page 4 of the report for our breakdown of these demographics, and keep an eye out for the color-coding throughout the report.
Younger Millennials are willing to work more, but they need to socialize
We presented respondents with two hypothetical scenarios to gauge how they ranked the importance of perks, benefits, PTO, and salary—and learning who would choose PTO over salary surprised us! As it turned out, ODs born after 1992 were the only group where the majority was willing to give up PTO in favor of a higher salary.
Interestingly, this youngest group was also the most interested in opportunities to socialize with their coworkers after work. While most optometrists said that they valued the chance to socialize with coworkers during the day, it was only those born between 1992-1997 who responded in the majority that they also valued socializing with coworkers once the workday was over.
Millennials aren’t just young workers: they also have families
Older Millennials—the group designated as “Michael,” after the most common baby name in those years, and labeled in turquoise—were least likely to accept a job that required them to work weekends.
This group was also the most invested in finding a job that allowed them to be near their family. This makes sense: after all, ODs in this group are now between the ages of 34 and 39, and are likely parents, caregivers, or expecting to take on this role soon.
Show them the money
Most fascinatingly, it was the youngest ODs who had the highest standards for financial packages. While our middle group and older Millennials were willing to take a job without a 401k, a majority of ODs born after 1992 said that they would not accept a job where a 401k retirement plan was not offered.
At the same time, this group had the lowest salary expectations: after all, most of them are either students or recent graduates. Still, they’re looking towards the future.
Keep in mind that every single OD in this demographic came of age following the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
So what does this mean for optometry practices?
Practices looking to hire younger ODs should keep these data in mind when putting together job descriptions as well as offers. These days, candidates are looking for security and responsibility; fulfillment and excitement. Many of them have families and long-term goals, and they’re looking for a practice that supports that. Beyond hiring, employers can use this data to better manage and retain existing hires. If you have a very young office, consider after-work happy hours. When looking to retain a superstar employee in their early 30s, remember that they may value PTO more than a modest raise. These are just a few ways to approach managing and retaining your existing employees, and we hope that this data is valuable to you and your organization.