Why Millennials Leave Their Jobs And What You Can Do To Keep Them
As the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, millennials have become the focal point of HR initiatives. Whether you are establishing succession plans or building an employee retention strategy, the motivations of millennials should be a top consideration.
If variations of these questions have come up within your organization, it means that millennials are on the radar.
- Are our entry level turnover numbers high?
- Are our campus and trade school recruitment efforts yielding a high return on investment?
Millennials are statistically the most transient group within the workforce; they are unafraid to leave a job, switch professions or take a career risk. There are a multitude of reasons why millennials leave jobs based on three key premises:
1. Limited upward mobility
Does your organization have a clear, charted set of a career tracks? Are promotions attainable within a 2 year time period? If the answer to either of these questions was no, the likelihood of millennials establishing tenure at your organization is slim. Millennials have grown accustomed to rapid, frequent rewards in exchange for their efforts. The opportunity to advance within an organization is the gateway to several rewards that the millennials value including exposure, more money, higher levels of responsibility and more challenging work.
2. Lack of flexibility
Although not feasible in all industries, millennials thrive in situations that provide flexibility and do not necessitate structure. Coined the ‘plugged in generation’, this group is well connected and accustomed to accessing information in real time. The confines of standard business hours are unappealing to millennials due to their deep understanding of the fact that work can be accomplished at any time, in any place. Specifically, employers that do not offer flexible work hours and arrangements typically have higher millennial turn over rates.
3. Stagnant company culture
Millennials focus heavily on company culture during the recruitment phase; after a few weeks onboard it is clear whether an organization is culturally a “fit” for a millennial. Organizations that are not progressive and innovative generally are not appealing to millennials. The dynamic evolution of technology that this generation has grown up with has set the tone. Millennials understand how quickly changes come about in the world and seek out the opportunity to leave their own imprint. If your company is not open to input, collaboration and publicizing its accomplishments it may be perceived as stagnant.
So, what can you do to retain millennials within your organization?
- From a millennial’s perspective, the employee value proposition revolves around growth and advancement. If it aligns with your company’s culture and long term strategy, develop an ‘emerging leaders’ pipeline program that provides opportunities for high performers to move into leadership roles more quickly. Alternatively, consider offering training opportunities coupled with more challenging work to retain interest. Also, identify areas of opportunity within your organization for millennials to take on informal leadership roles, such as on project teams or stretch assignments.
- Offer flexible work arrangements that fit into your company’s unique culture; this may not mean offering a telecommuting option but could take the form of delayed start times and early dismissals, for example. Take a close look at the time that employees spend at work and identify ways to reduce it or make it more pleasant. If it is acceptable from a safety and business perspective, consider providing scheduling options that consolidate actual hours worked as much as possible. Many companies allow employees to take shorter break times and leave earlier, or work 3-4 longer days rather than 5 shorter days. During the recruitment and onboarding process, be straight forward with entry level talent. The bottom line is that there are reasons why certain kinds of flexibility are not feasible – embed these aspects of the business into your employer brand and recruitment strategy as the answer to the “why” question that will inevitably come up. Demonstrate that your organization’s success is attributed to certain staples, one of which is having employees physically onsite for a certain number of hours, for example. This will also eliminate any perceptions that the company is antiquated or behind the times.
- Company cultures are difficult to change, even in very minor ways. Often times there are unwritten, unexplained norms that are established and upheld over time. If a top priority of your organization is staying in business, the decision makers should consider examining it for any gaps that would hinder millennial retention efforts. HR professionals and management aim to attract and retain the best and brightest – in order to do so a work environment must provide the tools and resources that allow millennials to perform at their highest capacity. Start the process by analyzing feasible areas of opportunity within your organization – such as training or flexibility – and quantitatively demonstrate the projected impact of making the change(s). Additionally, share insights about the growing impact and size of the millennial generation. Take it a step further by sharing information about competitors’ cultures and industry best practices.
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