According to a Nielsen survey spanning 60 countries, millennial workers are two times more likely to leave their job after 2 years than Gen Xers or baby boomers, and they’re only half as likely to be with the same company after 10 years. Millennials appear to have lower rates of job loyalty than their elders, and it has become a question for organizations how to retain this younger generation.
A 2013 article published in the Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research explored this very question. In “Impact of Job Burnout on Satisfaction and Turnover Intention: Do Generational Differences Matter?” authors Allan Cheng Chieh Lu and Dogan Gursoy explored rates of job satisfaction and turnover among workers of different generations, and found that millennials are more likely to leave a job when faced with stress or burnout, while baby boomers tend to stick around for the long-term payoff. They suggest that millennials place a higher priority on work-life balance and receiving positive reinforcement in their positions, and when these needs aren’t met, they tend to look to other jobs or even careers. (It should be noted that the authors listed the many limitations of their study, such as the fact that it came from a small sample of employees from a North American branded hotel management company which included more female representation than male.)
The Atlantic cites additional needs that are unique to millennial workers. A 2014 poll showed that 88 percent of workers in this generation want to work somewhere “fun and social,” with 71 percent saying that they want their colleagues to be a “second family” to them. This concept of workplace community and culture is familiar for those working in employee engagement and loyalty, and it seems that for the younger generation, it might be of even stronger importance than for previous generations.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, author Lindsay Gellman cites examples of organizations which are taking initiatives to retain millennials by meeting some of their unique needs. Hosting company mixers can help to build community, while a relaxed dress code may encourage a sense of individualism. And by offering millennials tailored training programs or participation in organized work councils, you’re giving them an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and develop a sense of autonomy in their role.
In the spirit of creating a more engaged workforce, we’re seeing organizations embrace flexible work schedules and telecommute options, create fitness and recreation rooms, and develop really thoughtful employee recognition platforms. And while there might not be any silver bullet for what will make millennials stay for the long haul, at least by developing meaningful engagement programs at your organization, you’ll be creating a culture of community and engagement that will benefit all who are a part of it.