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Why Do Millennials Resign? The Answers May Surprise You

A new study reveals interesting data about millennial turnover

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BY Gene Marks - 13 Jun 2018

Why Do Millennials Resign? The Answers May Surprise You

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Lazy. Impetuous. Disrespectful. Unreliable. No, those aren’t the words that people today use to describe the millennial generation. Those are actually the words our parents’ generation used to describe us!

Now, there’s a new generation in town.

Millennials - those aged anywhere from 18-34 years old by most accounts - make up a significant majority of the current workforce. The smartest CEOs and business owners I meet accept that this generation has different values and priorities than the ones before and - instead of complaining about this fact - adjust their employment practices to attract the best workers from this group. But attracting new people and then keeping the best ones motivated and working long term are two different things.

How do you keep them from quitting?

A new study by Visier, a human resources analytics and planning firm, reveals some data that may help. The research was conducted using the company's internal database of 60 large U.S. based companies from multiple industries who employ about 1.5 million workers. Researchers then broke down this data between employees who were millennials (those born in 1983 or later) and everyone else.

For starters, your intuitions about this generation are probably correct: millennials really do change jobs more often. In fact, according to the data, this group quits their jobs at a rate that's twice the rate of non-millennials. Is this a bad thing? No, it’s just a fact, and the reasons why they quit are what's important if you’re running a business. They mostly have to do with the two things that this generation cares about the most: craft beer and Fortnite.

Just kidding. It’s actually career growth and mobility.

When millennial workers progress, particularly to management level, their turnover declines dramatically - about two-thirds less than managers who are not millennials. When they don't get promoted they resign at a rate higher than average. The data also found that the lack of promotion drives more millennial men to leave their jobs than women. What's also interesting is that millennials tend to internally job-hop about twice as much as everyone else.

"With employment numbers at an all-time high and the war for talent more fierce than ever, organizations need to have a strategy to attract and retain millennials,” John Schwarz, Visier's co-founder and CEO said in a press release. “Our analysis confirmed that millennials change jobs significantly more often, but it also uncovered the power of promotion as a key factor in motivating millennials to stay with their firm.”

The takeaway if you're a business owner or executive: enough stop crying and complaining about millennials! This is a generation of very hard-working people who - in survey after survey - value mobility, independence and flexibility. They also value feedback, want more responsibilities quicker and gravitate towards jobs that provide opportunities for growth. Otherwise they get bored, unproductive, unhappy and…become former employees.

These issues are easy to address.

Performance reviews should be conducted not once a year, but throughout the year. Constant feedback - both formally and informally - should be provided to your workers. You need to have a willingness to promote more often and share more responsibilities with your employees (it may up your game too!).

Keeping an eye on your workers and being open to them switching roles, trying new things, taking on different duties and even changing jobs entirely within your organization will address this generation’s desire for flexibility and potentially solve more of your problems. Having a strong onboarding process is vital for new hires to feel welcome and motivated the moment they walk in the door.

You need to change, not them. You need to trust more and give more rope to your people. Why? Because once you have a great person, you don't let them go. Your job is to maximize their return on investment and find ways to make them profitable. The ways to do this have changed, thanks to the millennial generation and you must adapt to this. You spend too much time and money attracting good people to your business to lose them.

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