Getting Millennials to Stick Around

My father worked in the same factory for almost 40 years. I’ve had basically four jobs in 40 years. Gen X workers (those now in their late 30s and 40s) tend to change jobs every three to five years. And millennials, well, does the term revolving door come to mind? According to a recent study, the young professional is sticking around for much less time than his or her predecessors.

A recent Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21 percent of them say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.

Let’s look at some interesting comments in an article by Scott Quatro, which appears in Managing Human Resources for the Millennial Generation. He suggests that traditional HR processes and approaches are not well-suited to millennials, who are more interested in organizational purpose versus shareholder wealth. These young professionals want peer coaching rather than traditional performance reviews. More importantly, they are looking for work/life integration, not work/life balance.

Should we, as business owners and managers, be worried about the transitory nature of these up-and-comers?

I guess it depends on what you’re wanting to get in return. Traditional wisdom would suggest the longer employees stay, the better trained they become, resulting in higher quality work. And replacing people takes time and money. There are the endless employee searches, the constant string of résumés and the too-long interviews. And finally, there are the real reasons someone will come to work for you.

There has never been a greater break with tradition in regards to what young people want in their work environment. And let’s face it: Keeping and training young people is challenging when they are changing jobs every year or two.

Not that long ago, many of the college students in my classes were just forming a sense of their career futures even though most were juniors and seniors. After all, how many people really know what they want to do for 50 years when turning the ripe old age of 18 or even 23?
Today, how many 30-year-olds are settling down, going into debt, raising a family the old-fashioned way and sticking to a position with hopes of moving up the food chain? A lot less than previous generations.

I suspect the transient nature of the “new” workforce will only become more pronounced. We, as the establishment, cannot brush aside the new demands from those filling our jobs. They need something different from what we needed. Loyalty is no longer a big deal. Nor is growing old with stock options.

Technology is bringing a revolutionary bent to traditional work environments and personal interaction. Walk across the hallway to talk with a colleague? No way! Send a text instead.

We’re all adapting to this brave new world. Millennials will lead the way whether we hire them or not.

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