Do millennials have commitment issues? When it comes to working a job, it might appear so. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure at a job for baby boomers is almost ten years. Yet, the millennial generation only stays at their jobs for 2.8 years. Deloitte’s research only confirms employers’ worst fears. Nearly half of the respondents from their survey on millennials in the workplace said they’d change jobs within two years if they could.
Employee turnover on this scale is a costly problem for organizations. The Work Institute estimates every person that quits costs a business 33% of their salary. For example, if you lost seven employees you paid $45,000 a year, that’s $105,000 in losses. In addition, losing a team member can result in low team morale, leading the company to spiral into even higher levels of turnover and its financial implications.
Millennials are now America’s largest demographic of working people, so employers can’t just avoid hiring them. Because of this, the question becomes: What do millennials in the workplace want, and how do you get them to stay?
Find out the answer to this question in the article below, plus learn everything there is to know about millennial workers, their characteristics, top reasons they quit their jobs, and how to increase your chances at having them build a long-term career at your business.
Who Consists of Millennials in the Workforce?
Millennials in the workplace, also known as Generation Y, consist of people born between 1981 and 1996. Older generations in the workforce would include Generation X, or those born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. The generation preceding Gen X are the Baby Boomers born during the postwar era that ranges from 1946 to 1964. While only a small portion of the U.S. workforce, the traditionalists are the last generation of workers, although most are now retired. This group was born between 1925 and 1945.
Millennials and Work: Common Generational Characteristics
Millennials in the workplace might share many common traits. However, employers mustn’t generalize or form opinions about workers based on their age. It’s important to remember what is true about one person who is a millennial might not be true about another. The same goes for any other demographic. Remember, ageism is a discriminatory practice and it can lead to serious legal implications for businesses. With that being said, there are still various perceptions about millennials in the workforce. Find out what these are below.
They Want Work-Life Balance
Millennials in the workplace value conditions that provide them with work-life balance. They’re well-known for desiring or negotiating specific terms of employment that allow for this type of lifestyle. This might look like wanting unlimited PTO or being a full-time remote worker.
Millennials are Technologically Adept
This demographic seems to know how to use a variety of different technologies instinctively. They grew up during an era of technological advancements. Because of this, millennials in the workplace have a lot of experience using ever-changing social media platforms, cloud-based software, and other tech-driven tools that result in more streamlined work. They also adapt quickly to technological advancements and adjust faster to new programs, software, apps, and other forms of technology businesses might incorporate into their daily operations.
This Demographic Gets Bored Easily
A report from Gallup states that only 29 percent of millennials at work feel engaged. When it comes to why they seem to be expert job-hoppers, this is a huge indicator. Because their expectations for finding a meaningful job are higher, they seek careers that allow them to connect to the business, its leaders, their coworkers, and the work they do. Otherwise, they’ll begin the hunt for something more purpose-driven and fulfilling.
Generation Y is Needy and Opinionated
Common complaints with older generations about millennials in the workplace are that they’re whiny, entitled, and require too much nurturing. With that being said, millennials do desire engagement from their employers. However, leaders shouldn’t mistake this for being too needy. Younger generations want to attach themselves to their work emotionally, but they won’t if they aren’t in a safe work environment. The suppression of employee’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, and concerns will inevitably lead to disengagement.
Millennials Crave Growth Opportunities
A survey from Payscale and Millennial Branding found that 72 percent of millennials at work place value on career advancement opportunities. This means they want the leaders in their organizations to help them reach their professional goals. For instance, this might look like having weekly one-on-one meetings, offering mentorship, giving regular feedback, working through a career development plan together, teaching the team leadership skills each week, and providing leadership opportunities.
Additionally, workers from this generation are also known for pushing themselves. According to LendingTree, 50 percent of millennials have a side hustle that provides extra monthly income. This means they’re using their talents to make money outside their 9 to 5 jobs. An additional cushion like this can help them pursue their dream of starting a business. It could also fund investment opportunities, help them save for a home, or let them have more financial freedom. Overall, most millennials aren’t afraid of hard work and pursuing goals they find rewarding and fulfilling.
Top Problems Generation Y Have at Work
(And How to Deal with Millennials in the Workplace)
Several common threads identify why many millennials leave their jobs. Employers must recognize these problems to avoid creating work environments and team cultures that set up disengaging conditions. Learn why millennials working at a company they’re seemingly happy at leave their position to work somewhere else. Additionally, find out how to solve the problems millennials in the workplace have.
Their Workplace Environment is Too Rigid
As referenced above, millennials in the workplace desire job terms that allow them the freedom and flexibility to have work-life balance. This demographic wants employers that trust them to get their work done without micromanaging them. This especially translates over to full-time remote work, which, according to a survey from FlexJobs, is something 85 percent of millennials desire. Sometimes working in-office is necessary. However, executives that demand in-office terms to keep an eye on employees will seem too rigid and controlling. When it comes to millennials and work, this is a quality they don’t want in a supervisor.
How to Solve This Problem
- Be open to flexible job options like remote work, telecommuting, and generous family leave.
- Start having honest conversations around team members’ needs. For example, during one-on-ones, ask team members what you can do to make them feel more engaged and motivated at work. Additionally, brainstorm ideas with them about job perks, benefits, and work terms.
- Consider why and when a worker must be in the office.
- Communicate your reasoning to employees.
2. There’s No Opportunity for Growth
Millennials want to work at businesses that help them grow and develop their talents, skills, and leadership qualities. They’re looking to work with and learn from executives who are constantly seeking to answer the question, “What is leadership, and how do we build a culture of leaders?” A report from Gallup supports this claim, revealing “59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.” It goes to show that millennials aren’t looking for a dead-end career. They’re not going to put their eggs in one basket if the business isn’t willing to invest in helping them grow and reach their professional goals.
How to Solve This Problem
- Openly discuss team members’ personal and professional objectives.
- Work on a career development plan that keeps them on track to achieve important milestones as they grow with the company.
- Help millennials in the workplace set challenging objectives and key performance indicators that push them out of their comfort zone.
- Provide mentorship opportunities with yourself and other leaders.
- Teach them how to lead by focusing on a particular leadership skill each week. This can be done in a group setting or during a one-on-one check-in.
- Create opportunities for team members to practice these skills. For example, if you’re discussing group decision making, have team members run through making decisions in different ways throughout the week.
3. They Feel Disengaged and Underappreciated
Not receiving recognition or appreciation for hard work and dedication is one of the top reasons millennials leave their jobs. However, a study conducted by daVinci on millennials in the workplace found that almost 80 percent of workers in Generation Y would become more loyal to their employer if they felt eligible to receive recognition rewards. In the same survey, respondents said they are “seldom to never eligible for rewards.” This means the majority of millennials have a problem with engagement because they don’t feel recognized.
How to Solve This Problem
- Openly communicate your appreciation and gratitude for your employees.
- Compensate people fairly and increase that compensation over time to show them how much they’re worth to you.
- Provide other types of rewards and benefits that show your appreciation. It’s great to ask employees how they’d like to be acknowledged and thanked. For example, some people might like an office celebration when they reach a huge milestone, while another employee is more of a private person who prefers one-on-one positive feedback.
- Never take credit for others’ work. Always stay humble and think about the role each individual team member plays to make the company successful.
- Be specific about the “what,” “why,” and “how” when showing gratitude and recognition. Let people know the exact ways they help the business thrive.
Learn more ways to show employee recognition and appreciation.
4. Their Work Burns Them Out
Work burnout is a serious issue that affects the vast majority of millennials. 84 percent of millennials in the workplace who participated in a survey conducted by Deloitte said they’ve felt the effects of it at their current job. The top causes were unrealistic expectations for deadlines, lack of recognition, and working too many hours on the weekend. Work cultures that don’t protect their team members from the effects of burnout are likely to see low employee retention rates, poor performance, lack of engagement, and other issues that negatively impact an organization.
How to Solve This Problem
- Make sure to structure employment terms that allow your team to get plenty of rest. This might look like offering unlimited PTO or PTO that gives employees the time they need to recover.
- Set firm rules about how many days a person must take off per year.
- Notice when a team member is struggling at work and reach out. Leaders who get to know their employees realize when someone is lagging, feeling fatigued, or acting differently than they usually do.
- Adapt to what you’re being told. If the person tells you they need a day off to recover during this conversation, let them have it if it doesn’t negatively impact the business. In the long run, it’s better to let people recharge than have them show up feeling drained and exhausted. This is when employees start making mistakes and sinking deeper into burnout.
5. Another Company Offers Them a Better Job
Gallup’s study on millennials in the workplace indicates that 60 percent of those in Generation Y would be open to new job opportunities. 36 percent of these people plan on finding a job with a new company within the next 12 months. The business cites that so many millennials want to leave their current employer due to a lack of engagement tactics and attraction and retention strategies. It’s safe to say that based on these findings, millennials aren’t interested in remaining with companies that don’t tend to their need to feel engaged at work.
How to Solve This Problem
- Work to build a strong relationship with employees. This requires time and effort on leaders’ part, but without this investment, team members will feel no reason to be loyal to a business that doesn’t seem to care about them on a professional and personal level.
- Be intentional about creating a team that people love being a part of. Developing this sense of belonging, fun, excitement, inspiration, and engagement will help group members look forward to work every day.
- Raise up a new generation of leaders. Recognize the greatness within your team, vocalize it, and help employees fulfill a plan that allows them to take on leadership roles within the company.
- Pay people what they deserve. In a CNBC report, 47 percent of Americans said they worry about the cost of living and feel like it’s a threat to their financial security. Millennials in the workplace need to earn a fair wage. Many people find themselves being forced out of jobs they love because they need more money to survive.
Millennials Aren’t an Unsolvable Problem
There’s no denying millennials in the workplace are non-commital. However, based on the data shared above, most millennials who job-hop have a reasonable explanation for why they do so. This generation seems more inclined to ditch cultural and societal conditioning that a person must stay at a job that doesn’t work for them. Instead, Generation Y takes on the mindset that leaders should care about providing them with growth and development opportunities, engage with them, and support their careers.
Those who get caught up in generational differences spend too much time worrying about the “millennial problem” and not enough time creating a workplace environment that benefits its employees. The truth is, the best way to get a person to stay at your company is to connect with them on a human-to-human level. This stops businesses from becoming ageist and helps leaders offer employment conditions that work for employees across all age groups.