The Three-Year Career: Why Younger Employees Frequently Change Jobs

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The Three-Year Career: Why Younger Employees Frequently Change Jobs

While the Great Recession may be drawing to a close, the last few years have seen major changes in the workforce dynamic. The biggest change is the influx of Millennials who will soon fill the shoes of retiring Boomers. It’s predicted that by 2020, Millennials will make up a full one-half of the workforce and organizations need to prepare themselves for the very different ways in which Millennials view themselves with respect to the workplace.

Although eager and qualified to work and work hard, Millennials, who watched their parents fall victim to corporate downsizing—despite giving their employers years of faithful service—regard long term corporate loyalty as a mistake they don’t want to make. As a result, today’s twenty-somethings are content to change jobs frequently, acquiring skills and marking time until the right job comes along.

According to a recent Harris survey for the University of Phoenix, 80 percent of Millennials expressed a desire to change careers, compared to 64 percent of thirty-somethings and 54 percent of people in their forties. Within the current workforce, it’s estimated that Millennials are staying with companies an average of three years or less.

In a recent Millennial Branding survey, a majority of companies reported that it costs between $15,000 to $25,000 to attract, recruit, train and replace each Millennial that walks out the door. Clearly, companies and HR need to adopt new strategies and practices if they want to retain Millennials for extended lengths of time.

Studies in generational workplace dynamics offer the following reasons for why malcontented Millennials change jobs so frequently:

1. The Desire to Change Jobs for Flexibility

Millennials want no part of the nine-to-five grind that was the workplace norm for past generations. Preferring no collar to a white collar, they are more interested in doing meaningful work, as opposed to punching a time clock and “doing time”. Twenty-somethings are also all about technology, and they expect to use smartphones, tablets and social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to help them accomplish workplace tasks. They also prefer online workshops for training as opposed to sitting in classrooms. Millennials expect to have flexible schedules and are willing to pull an all-nighter here and there if it means getting some extra time off to enjoy other pursuits.

2. The Need for Greater Purpose

Unlike employees of older generations, Millennials change jobs looking for a company with better employee appreciation, even if it means making less money than they would at a job they would consider less fulfilling. Studies and reports suggest that having a job where they can make a real impact is viewed by a majority of Millennials as being essential for happiness and fulfillment. Companies looking to instill a sense of purpose within their Millennial workforce need to make sure they receive top notch training and are allowed to make decisions with respect to how they can best accomplish important tasks. They also need to be constantly challenged and guided by management employee recognition programs. Engaging in meaningful work that they see is making a difference instills employees with greater confidence and the desire to take performance to a new level. It will also keep them from entertaining other offers from competitors, many of which have stepped up their Millennial recruiting efforts. Finally, the opportunity to work closely with management and coworkers in an atmosphere described as a “good cultural fit” is highly valued by Millennials.

3. The Need for Financial Stability

Although Millennials have a somewhat altruistic approach to their work, like all employees they appreciate being paid for doing good work. They also understand that they entered the job market in the shadow of the Great Recession. As a result, they are less trusting of the corporate world and will often opt for working two jobs or frequently trying to change jobs to make ends meet instead of pouring everything into one job like their parents did.

Organizations and HR professionals need to recognize and embrace the changes that are happening in the workplace due to the generational shift. By adapting to better meet the needs of the bright and rising generation of Millennials today—who will be the leaders of tomorrow—organizations are positioning themselves to achieve and maintain long term growth and competitive advantage.

Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray

I'm a business owner and entrepreneur turned freelance writer who enjoys writing about business, and Technology. I have experience in writing software, mobile app development, and information systems.

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