When you hear the word millennial, the following words come to mind – youth, radical, technology, Internet. You’re not wrong to think these and in some way, they shape work in this age and the future of work.
The actual age range for millennials is undecided but it’s somewhere from the early 1980s to 2000s. Millennials grow up in a world of technology, internet, computers and social networking and this very much influences their approach to work and the values they hold.
This LinkedIn study states that job-hopping has nearly doubled in this generation while this CareerBuilder study states that nearly one-third of employers expect millennials to job-hop and provides the statistics for job-hopping by age and industry. One important highlight from the CareerBuilder study is that about 45% of employees these days intend to stick with their employer for less than two years.
Millennials, especially the talented ones, seem to struggle to keep long term jobs and it’s getting harder for employers to retain them in the workplace. The question is WHY? Is it something the employers are not doing right or is it the millennial culture itself?
Here are a few answers for you.
- Independence: This generation values being independent and in control of their own time more than anything else. So, while you might be offering relatively good pay, benefits and an otherwise conducive work environment, it might be unattractive to the millennial because the thought of having to wake up early every morning, commute, work until evening and commute back is just unappealing.
- I am not my parents: The average millennial has a heavy dose of this syndrome. They grew up watching their parents slave away for some company, trying their hardest, kissing asses, attempting to climb that corporate ladder while getting treated like crap and barely scraping things together and making ends meet or having to struggle to balance work with family life and spend time with them. Millennials find themselves trying so hard to be anything but them.
- Follow your dreams: This generation is the most hit by the marketing slogans “follow your dream”, “follow your heart”. They seem to be eternally chasing the next cool thing or fulfillment or happiness. It’s hard to tell. When you’re bombarded with messages telling you to find excitement and do what makes you happy, you’re sure to start feeling bored and like it’s time to move on when you settle into the routine of a job and no longer get that burning passion you felt at the beginning. Nothing’s a challenge anymore and everything seems more than a little meh.
- Attitude to work: The average millennial is plagued with overconfidence and very high expectations which are hardly if ever met. This again leaves them always chasing this thing they are missing out on and this feeling they are sure they should be getting. They seem far away at work and are not giving it their best. They end up quitting or getting fired.
- Recognition and validation: Millennials are big on being recognized for their good work and getting validation. It could be as simple as saying good job but they are not the previous generation, happy to go on just doing the job without getting any nods from the boss. This is a change that employers need to incorporate. Give and seek feedback.
- The promise of the gig economy: The gig economy encourages independent workers in temporary, freelance positions for short-term engagements. It not only promises the millennial the opportunity to be their own boss and control their time but also to earn more, build their capacity and career by trying different things, work from anywhere, and find a better fit if something does not work. It’s hard for employers to compete with this even though the reality of the gig economy shows that most people spend more time trying to get jobs and have to deal with terrible conditions before attaining their desired status.
To change this situation, both sides need to make an effort to do things differently. Starting with the employers. To keep up with the changing times, employers should offer more flexible working conditions: timing, dress codes, changing work environments etc. while ensuring that the targets are communicated and met.
Most employers find that a higher percentage of millennials are retained when their employers can adapt to the times, giving them a balance of a fun workplace, an understanding environment as well as the usual expectations of professionalism, efficiency and getting the job done.
Millennials on the other hand first need to face the hard truth. The grass always looks greener on the other side but when the filters come off, it isn’t. Find a job you love, you’re good at and are happy doing. Build your career doing it and get your kicks developing yourself and doing gigs on the side. It’s the best of both worlds.