Why do Millennials keep leaving their jobs so often? It’s the question on everyone’s mind, and you probably feel like you have a pretty good idea why. However, don’t be so sure that you have the right answer figured out just yet.
While it is true that on average Millennials have more jobs in their professional careers than any other generation prior, there is definitely more to this story than meets the eye. As one of those job hopping, seemingly nomadic gen ys, I’m here to shed a little light on some of my generation’s motivations and values that are the driving factors behind this trend.
Hopefully by the end of this piece, I can provoke some new thoughts and help provide some clarity to a topic that is pretty frequently misunderstood.
First, My Personal Job History
My first job was as a customer service rep for a small shop. I was employed there for a little over a year, and I worked my butt off to be the best employee possible.
I worked weekdays, weekends, learned other people’s jobs, stayed on call throughout the week, and worked full time, all while going to school full time as well. After an entire year with the company, I was offered a $0.50 raise in pay, more hours, and no shot at extra training or management . That’s right, half of a dollar and a lot more responsibility.
A week later I decided to quit.
This isn’t a story about some kid complaining and wanting more than he deserved. It’s about a company that offered no mobility, no mentorship, and no willingness to genuinely reward loyalty and hard work. I left because even if three years had gone by, I still wouldn’t be doing very much better than after that first year.
My next three years were spent between restaurants. I did everything from working the front desk, to serving, and even bartending for the last two years. These jobs also provided next to no mentorship or job flexibility, but did offer fantastic pay (tips).
The reason for leaving these goes even deeper than my previous job. By this time, I had developed a pretty technical background and was learning how to code websites, build digital branding campaigns, and use software for business purposes on a daily basis in school. But my job description was mainly to do basic, repetitive, and very low skill level tasks day in and day out.
The issue was that my talents weren’t being utilized and didn’t matter at all. Despite making a good paycheck every month, it wasn’t fulfilling in the least bit. This is one aspect that Millennials are remembering to place importance on once again. Where as in prior generations, more importance was placed on general job security.
There is nothing wrong with putting your head down and working in a position you don’t like for a great opportunity later, but if your heart isn’t in it, especially after a few years, you’re wasting your time.
Growing pains, learning challenges, or even slightly lower pay can all be overlooked temporarily. But no one should work a job that is fundamentally against who they are.
With my most recent job, I ended up leaving after 3 1/2 months. Now before I go on, I do acknowledge that being an extremely quick turnover. It’s something I struggled with for weeks, and despite it ending on great terms, I did feel a little guilty. But I also realized early on that it wasn’t a good fit.
The job came down to me doing outside sales for the company, and despite having always disliked the sales process, I was excited by the new opportunity to grow. However, I quickly learned that there isn’t a salesman that exists who is successful, benefits their company, and hates doing sales.
Business development is the type of career where you have to be passionate and believe in what you’re doing for it to work. I felt like I was doing myself and my boss a disservice, and most likely would have wasted time and company money if I stayed.
As I see it, there is no honor in being truly miserable at a job. Growing pains, learning challenges, or even slightly lower pay can all be overlooked temporarily. In the end though, no one should work at a job that is fundamentally against who they are.
Our Generation’s Biggest Fear
Many Millennials saw our parents work very hard into their older years at the same job all of their lives. Despite the majority being alright with the stability and being able to provide for their families, a good portion of adults report being dissatisfied with their jobs and careers.
Statistics aside, I’ve had many conversations with people who worked for years in an industry that they strongly disliked. After seeing a lot of that wake-up-everyday-and-sit-behind-a-desk, 9-5- for-40-years-at-a-job-that-you-don’t-like sort of lifestyle from a variety of adults, it is frightening for Millennials to consider living that in our own lives.
My generation values building a variety of skills, especially in areas we are passionate about. We have gone through a lot of schooling, and accrued a good amount of debt preparing to use those. So working at a job that doesn’t offer any growth, mentorship, or a livable wage, doesn’t really mesh well with our situation. Prior generations could afford to get by with a lower paying part time position, or move up their office ladders more gradually because they didn’t have the same looming financial burden as early on.
We value experiences and want to explore more nontraditional aspects of life. Unlike generations past, we aren’t obsessed with consumerism and attributing stability with material possessions like cars or houses. We’ve sought out more intangible factors of happiness and weigh our own fulfillment more heavily when considering future decisions. We just don’t see the point in slaving away at a job we hate, or not getting to express ourselves or use our talents all while being broke. We already did something like that called school for half of our lives. Millennials would rather have a lot less money, but be more fulfilled overall.
Millennials Are Switching Things Up
It’s no secret at this point that my generation is restructuring the work environment. Among this shift there has been significant backlash by some, but perhaps these changes are exactly what have been missing all along. I’ve read a fair amount of articles that claim that millennials aren’t good at adapting, they leave their jobs too soon without “sticking it out”, and many other negative generalizations. Yet I challenge every organization to remove that pointed finger at our generation, and turn it back around at themselves.
Many companies have the mindset of needing to somehow keep their employees “in check”. Having strict work hours and work weeks, scheduled breaks, clothing policies and much more. Instead of creating a work environment that facilitates productivity, good morale, and fosters personal and professional growth. This leads to employees feeling confined, stifled, and often unhappy.
In the past, an employee might have continued to put up with these conditions due to a lack of resources. But now there are a wide variety of technologies that make finding new opportunities very easy. There are job postings on social media, sites like Ziprecruiter that facilitate the process of matching available jobs with potential candidates, and more professional recruiters who now have access to those same online talent pools.
We’re in a time where if our employer is being unfair, disingenuous, or otherwise not acting in our best interest, there are greener pastures elsewhere. Ultimately, we don’t need to stay confined to one job just to make ends meet as much as past generations.
Millennials also don’t have the same desire to make money for the sake of making money. Working a lot to pay for things we have purchased, but ultimately don’t need, and neglecting all the other aspects of our personal lives is now seen as backwards to the our generation. Especially because it has been shown that money or material things aren’t the end all be all when it comes to personal fulfillment and happiness. Digital Natives are refusing to keep their mouths shut and force themselves to power through the unhappiness like the adults before us.
How To Keep Your Gen-Y Employees
Overall, some might say this is a never ending debate where the old people think the youngins are good for nothings, and the youth think the adults are out of touch. But the truth is that the old way of doing business has been around for a long time. Realistically, society is changing, and it’s time to reevaluate working conditions as a whole. It’s time to hold companies responsible for their actions. It’s time for them to take interest, if not pride, in employee morale, and become conscious of the human experience. Instead of solely being profit driven.
My advice from the standpoint of a hard working, educated, and self motivated Millennial follows a few simple rules. Having these would have kept me at my former places of employment a lot longer:
- Develop a culture. A real company culture, that your employees can be proud of and stand behind. If they buy in, they will stick around and work hard for you.
- Train your employees. That’s right. We all know you hired them because they are supposed to be qualified and good at their job. For some upper level management positions training obviously isn’t really necessary. But for most new hires into a company, they are going to need to know what you’re about, what exactly you do, and how they can help.
- Foster creativity and talent. This doesn’t have to be making every change that every single employee suggests every time, but don’t completely disregard everything that your employees have to say about the company. Especially if a majority of them are saying it. Also figure out what each employee brings to the table, and give them the resources necessary to grow that skill and use it to positively impact the company.
- Don’t be cheap. Seriously. Pay your employees what they deserve. If you are reaping a huge benefit from a worker, especially if you have increased their list of responsibilities, compensate them for it. It’s not that hard of a concept. They will be grateful, and will be significantly more likely to stay loyal and put in their best effort.
- Offer Mentorship. Yes, I understand that everyone’s time is valuable. There is no way that a deep connection can be formed between every employee and their employer. I get that. However, creating some kind of relationship with them, or structuring management in a way where the hire has a dedicated person they can go to for advice and feedback, is imperative for helping them reach their full potential.
When it comes down to it, I see my generation’s ideals as a new (and justified) way of thinking and wanting to live. The aforementioned steps that organizations can take to better their work environment are good ideas for everyone to consider. Following them might just stop the job hopping as well. Cheers.
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