Millennials are different from generations before them: they have different values; they have different work styles; and they have different needs.
The traditional work environment is challenging for Millennials to adjust to and they tend to not perform their best in strict environments. As a result, they leave hoping to find a culture that aligns more with their work style and values, and they repeat this until they find it.
As I coach Millennials, there are four consistent reasons that come up for why they leave their jobs—none of which deal with compensation—and it’s critical for employers to be aware of these reasons in order to address them:
1. Not Feeling a Sense of Purpose
Millennials are driven by the desire to make an impact and have a sense of purpose in their work. This poses a challenge for some industries as not all companies’ missions can be to change the world. To address this, companies should communicate internally and externally about how they are positively impacting their industry and community. When millennials see their companies engaging in community service, working on projects focused on improving their communities, or their companies are innovating the industry, they will find that bigger, deeper meaning they are looking for.
2. The company is not investing in their professional development
Study after study has shown professional development and career growth are extremely important to Millennials. They want to be challenged, developed and mentored and will stay with or leave companies based on their individual growth outlook. In fact, according to Forbes, 89% of millennials said they would stay with the same company for 10 or more years if just two criteria were met: opportunities for upward career mobility and a regular increase in compensation. Employers can address this by establishing a formal mentorship program, investing in career development, and communicating plans for career growth. If millennials feel like they’re being developed and have a clear career path in a company, they will be motivated and stay longer.
3. Limited Innovation
Millennials came of age with rapid innovation and new technologies—they love and crave this kind of change and want to work for employers that are challenging the status quo. Millennials feel things need to evolve and want to be part of innovating their company. However, if they’re at a company where leadership isn’t challenging the norm, they become frustrated. Companies can go a long way by listening to its millennial employees with ideas for changes and actually taking action and addressing their ideas. Not only will your employees feel more valued as they’re making a difference, your company will grow and become more completive through innovative, efficient, and progressive thinking.
4. There is No Work Life Balance
Millennials have spent a large part of their lives dictating their own schedules and doing work on their laptops in coffee shops or in their living rooms. Transitioning from a flexible college work style to a strict 8-5 is an extremely difficult transition many companies aren’t aware of. While Millennials are excited to advance in their careers, they’re not excited about giving up freedom and flexibility, nor do they believe it is necessary. Though many companies can’t have remote working situations, allowing for more flexibility in employees’ schedules is a good first step. By allowing employees to have more control of their schedule and work to live, employers will see better retention.
Millennials are the future of business. They make up 38% of the workforce and will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. We must adapt to their work styles and values instead of forcing them into molds that they can’t fit into. If companies don’t adapt, they will lose talent rapidly and not be competitive in a changing market
Finding meaning in work, mentorship, career development, innovation, work life balance, and flexibility is important for everyone. The only difference is Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have adapted to a strict, traditional work environment, while Millennials are causing disruption and striving for change.
By adapting to new, innovative ways to work and run businesses, we can create more satisfied, happy, loyal and productive employees across generations, and therefore better business results.