While the Great Recession may be coming to an end, the past few years have seen major shifts in labor dynamics. The biggest change is the influx of Millennials who will soon be filling in for the retiring Boomers. It is predicted that by 2020, Millennials will make up half of the workforce and organizations need to prepare themselves to deal with a very different way in which Millennials see themselves with respect to the workplace.
Though eager and qualified to work and work hard, Millennials, who have watched their parents fall victim to corporate downsizing—despite rendering loyal service to their employers for years—see long-term corporate loyalty as a mistake they don’t want to make. As a result, today’s twenties are content with changing jobs frequently, acquiring skills, and marking time until the right one comes along.
According to a recent Harris survey for the University of Phoenix, 80 percent of Millennials express a desire to change careers, compared to 64 percent of those in their thirties and 54 percent of people in their forties. In today’s workforce, it’s estimated that Millennials stay at companies an average of three years or less.
In a recent Millennial Branding survey, most employers reported that it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to attract, recruit, train, and replace every Millennial that walks out the door. Clearly, companies and HR need to adopt new strategies and practices if they are to retain Millennials for a long time to come.
Studies in generational workplace dynamics offer the following reasons why disgruntled Millennials change jobs so frequently:
1. Desire to Change Jobs for Flexibility
Millennials don’t want any part of the busy nine to five that was the workplace norm for previous generations. Preferring collarless to white collar, they are more interested in doing meaningful work, as opposed to pressing the time clock and “doing time”. Their 20s are also about technology, and they look forward to using smartphones, tablets and social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to help them complete tasks at work. They also prefer online workshops for training rather than sitting in a classroom. Millennials expect to have flexible schedules and are willing to work all night here and there if it means getting extra time off to enjoy other activities.
2. The Need for a Greater Purpose
Unlike older generations of employees, Millennials are changing jobs looking for better companies employee appreciation, even if it means making less money than jobs they find less fulfilling. Studies and reports show that having a job where they can make a real impact is seen by the majority of Millennials as important for happiness and satisfaction. Companies that want to instill a sense of purpose in their Millennial workforce need to ensure that they receive the best possible training and are allowed to make informed decisions regarding how best to accomplish important tasks. They also need to be continually challenged and guided by management’s employee recognition program. Engaging in the meaningful work they see as making a difference instills in employees greater confidence and a desire to take performance to new heights. It will also keep them from accepting other offers from competitors, many of whom have stepped up their Millennial recruiting efforts. Lastly, the opportunity to work closely with management and colleagues in what has been described as “good cultural fit” is highly valued by Millennials.
3. The Need for Financial Stability
Although Millennials have a somewhat altruistic approach to their jobs, like all employees, they value being paid for doing a job well. They also understand that they entered the job market under the shadow of the Great Recession. As a result, they have less faith in the corporate world and will often choose to work two jobs or frequently try to switch jobs to make ends meet rather than pouring everything into one job like their parents did.
HR organizations and professionals need to recognize and embrace the changes taking place in the workplace due to the generational shift. By adapting to better meet the needs of today’s bright and rising generation of Millennials—who will be the leaders of tomorrow—organizations position themselves to achieve and sustain long-term growth and competitive advantage.