Millennial Employee Retention

Lessons From A Recent Career Counseling Client and the Latest Research

Millennials are often criticized and stereotyped for jumping from job to job with virtually no loyalty for their current organization or the impact on fellow co-workers, management, and more.  This creates great disruption and chaos, as organizations struggle to retain their valuable human resources and competitors see great opportunity to offering benefits and approaches that could easily attract some of the most talented individuals directly from their competitors that are failing to retain and develop potential.

As a career counselor, and Millennial myself, I believe my generation does move from positions and organizations much more often than any other generation previous.  However, the real reason for this behavior is complicated and due to multiple factors (as is true with anyone’s motivation for behavior).

As mentioned in a previous Millennial Monday article last month, Millennials Influenced By The Great Recession, the economic climate during and after these events impacted all Americans, but the differences can be seen based on the ages of those experiencing these events.  Having a great career and making a great living is something everyone wants, and ideally deserves as much as possible.  However, this goal looks slightly different for a more experienced professional that was nearing retirement when The Great Recession occurred, versus the young Millennial attempting to begin their journey down a meaningful career path.

In my personal case, I graduated with my M.B.A. in 2009 and experienced the scarcity that brings about aggressive competition for limited professional positions.  Unfortunately, this environment also brings a mentality of conflict based on our various identities (What team do I identify with, and want to play on?”).  This is the negative unproductive climate where older more experienced professionals are threatened by the energetic and educated young people that may understand technology better but “they have not paid their dues or truly understand how it works here on the jobsite”. 

The good news however, is that most Millennials enjoy having a professional relationship with an older mentor and we also are always looking for feedback.  These conditions provide a great atmosphere for better understand across generations and gaining valuable insights to make organizations more effective, efficient, and profitable.  As a career counselor, I regularly work with college students that recently graduated and are facing conflict with applying education and scholarly training to the real world.  This often means the Millennial should be provided the right relationships and resources to develop professionally.

Recently I worked with a particular client that found her career field very interesting and fulfilling, but she was struggling with a recent promotion that also brought on additional duties related to managing and supervising others.  Unfortunately the organization that employs her and identified her potential for the promotion has not provided any training or mentorship related to managing others.  These are unique skills that many young graduates do not receive through any formal education, often needing the experiential learning opportunities that only the real world can provide. 

Another important note about Millennials and retaining high value talent is the great importance of actually understanding each unique employee and their own developmental plans within the organization.  For example, the client mentioned above is simply not interested in directly managing others, but she has a passion for office organization and management.  Properly aligning employees with positions and developmental opportunities of personal interest to them, these are the prerequisites to retaining Millennial talent for a sustainable future.

According to the research text, What Millennials Want From Work, Millennials lost their motivation when “they no longer felt that they were learning and developing new skills that would help them fulfill their long-term career plans.”

In 2013, Achieve published a study of Millennials finding that “more than half (53%) of respondents said having their passions and talents recognized and addressed is their top reason for remaining at their current company”.

If you own a business or manage an organization, please consider the information in today’s article help you attract Millennials, retain their talent, and develop their potential.