Stop Blaming the Millennials

When scrolling through your newsfeed, you will likely come across the word “millennial”. And despite the many great qualities this generation possesses, it seems to have adopted a derogatory connotation. Millennials carry with them the reputations of being lazy and entitled suck-ups. They are the brand killers and office cry babies. Many articles complain about this group’s behaviours, like their unusual spending habits (ex. spending frivolously on the daily instead of saving for a home) and suggest how to adapt to these trends. But employers need to recognize that some of the millennial’s behaviours are a direct result of their environment and that millennials really aren’t that different from the previous generations.

While there is some overlap in description, it is generally accepted that the millennial cohort was born between 1980 and 2000. In 2014, millennials comprised almost 37 per cent of the workforce and according to Catalyst, in 2020, they will comprise half of the global workforce . The major differentiating feature between the millennial and the Gen X mindset is technology. Millennials grew up in a time where technology reigned. Instead of encyclopedias and textbooks, they turned to search engines to deliver the information they were after.

The current hot topic about millennials surrounds job loyalty. Disloyalty, in the form of employee turnover, costs companies. Not only do managers miss out on the potential profitability of an employee, but the money put into the training and retention of that employee is a sunk cost. According to the Huffington Post, more than half of millennials believe that under six years is an appropriate amount of time to spend at a single job.

However, MBA professor Steve Risavy (PhD, CHRL) says that many claims about millennials are not supported by research. “There is evidence that millennials are more satisfied with their jobs and that they desire more job security than earlier generations,” he says. Dr. Risavy suggests that millennials can begin to demonstrate that they intend to remain with their potential employer in their interviews. “The candidate can discuss their intention to continue to grow and develop within the company when asked about their future career plans or goals.”

The key to figuring out how to retain millennials is to look at why they may look to leave. Global News’ research on millennials shows that they choose to leave their jobs to make more money, advance their careers, gain better work-life balance, and challenge themselves. With a growing trend to contract work, it’s hard for many millennials to find these things in a single job and so they move along to another employer to seek what they are after.

So how do you bridge the generational gap and retain millennials and all they can add to your team? Millennial employees want to feel like they are making a difference and that they are not just a number to their employer. A retention strategy for millennials can be as simple as giving them lots of feedback or telling them how much you appreciate their work. Providing millennial employees with opportunities for mentorship is another way to keep their interest in a company. Last year Forbes found that 68 per cent of millennials who intended to stay in their organization for the long term are twice as likely to have a mentor. Overall, to retain a millennial, one must make that individual feel valued and make it worth their while to stay.