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Why Can’t Employers and Business Leaders Keep Their Millennial Employees From Leaving?

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Why Can't Employers and Business Leaders Keep Their Millennial Employees From Leaving?

Millennials (also referred to as Generation Y) have been perceived as elusive and mysterious ever since they started filtering into the workplace. Businesses have been trying to figure out just how to advertise and market products and services to millennials. Business owners are looking for ways to hire, retain and be inclusive of promising Gen-Y employees.  

Business leaders are especially concerned with retaining millennial employees, as this generation has earned itself a reputation for being a generation of job-hoppers. Brandon Rigoni and Amy Adkins discuss this issue in their Harvard Business Review article “What Millennials Want from a New Job.”  The authors cite a Gallup report when they say, “Those born between 1980 and 1996 are the most likely to look for and change jobs.” Taking this one step further, the authors report that six in 10 millennials say they would consider leaving their current job to take a position elsewhere.

Why is this? Why can’t employers and business leaders keep their millennial employees from leaving?

It comes down to being inclusive of millennials, and engaging millennials in their work. The authors write, “71% (of millennials) are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, making them the least engaged generation in the U.S.”

Furthermore, their analysis showed that “47% of actively disengaged millennials strongly agree that they will switch jobs if the job market improves in the next 12 months.”

There are many reasons employees leave that are outside of our control. Creating an inclusive, engaging culture, though, is something leaders and HR professionals do have control over. If millennials are hired on but realize there aren’t any growth opportunities, or that their ideas aren’t taken as seriously as more experienced associates, they probably won’t stick around very long. As inclusive leaders, it’s important that we make an effort to include millennials in important conversations. It’s also important to interact with them as professional colleagues, instead of seeing them as an embodiment of their generation (e.g., using slang and lingo to seem cool).

According to Rigoni and Adkins, millennials are looking for (even more than pay and benefits) a place where they can learn and grow within the company. They also want to have challenging and engaging work. If the work they’re doing is rewarding — if they can see how what they’re doing is helping the company — then they’ll be engaged and will want to stay. If millennials also know that there are growth opportunities within the company, tuition reimbursement programs and training available to help them build new skills and competencies, they’ll be more likely to stay.

What are you doing to be inclusive of the millennial generation?

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