Technological Sophistication Essential to Recruiting a ‘Gen Z’ Hospice Workforce

As more members of “Gen Z” come into the hospice workforce, employers will need to adapt to their unique perspectives, needs and priorities in order to maximize recruitment and retention.

Gen Z includes individuals born between 1997 and 2025, according to the Pew Research Center. This generation is coming of age in a very different environment than their Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial predecessors, and this has shaped their attitudes and behaviors in the workplace.

One of the most significant differences between Gen Z and older generations is their relationship to technology, according to David Stillman, researcher and co-author of two books, “When Generations Collide” and “The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace.”


Stillman and his son and collaborator Jonah Stillman spoke at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Annual Leadership Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“The biggest difference that we have is that if I take a look at Baby Boomers, ‘Xers’, and Millennials, we can truly be classified as what we call digital pioneers because each generation really is a pioneer for some technological change,” David Stillman said in a keynote address. “Gen Z has never had to pioneer anything. They’re what we call digital natives. They only know my world where, if you need something, there’s a technological solution.”

Though this represents a change from prior generations in the workforce, this may bode well for hospices as they continue to adopt a slew of new technologies to build efficiencies, identify patients sooner, connect with patients virtually and collect and analyze data on their performance and the people they serve.


Such data have become crucial to negotiations with payers and referral partners and will become even more important as hospices inch towards value-based reimbursement.

Clinicians routinely go into the field armed with tablets, laptops and mobile devices designed for clinical documentation, scheduling and other key aspects of their work. While this created a learning curve for workers born before 1997, Gen Z employees come into the workforce with not only a comfort level with technology, but also the expectation that it will be integral to their jobs.

This means that managers, to some extent, may need to customize how they communicate with employees from different generations.

“My older generations very much like in-person [communication]. They like phone calls up the wazoo, which drives me nuts as a millennial. I am someone who very much likes a quick text,” Lynsey Danat, volunteer services manager for Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo, said at the NHPCO conference. “I think it leads back to knowing the individual or individuals you’re working with and the nature of the content that you’re trying to share.”

As workforce shortages proliferate throughout the health care system, competition in the labor market has intensified. Hospices are increasingly competing with other health care providers for clinical staff as more reach retirement age without enough younger workers stepping in to fill the gap. Some also leave the field due to burnout, or because they found higher compensation or a better career path elsewhere.

The Stillmans’ research has indicated that as many as 91% of Gen Z workers take a prospective employer’s level of technological sophistication into consideration when choosing whether to take a job, they said at the conference.

“For my generation, the line between the physical and the digital world has not just been blurred, it’s been completely eliminated,” Jonah Stillman said. “For my entire life, every physical element has also had a digital equivalent … Gen Z is always gonna look at technology with this idea of how we can make it better.”

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