ALULA recently had the opportunity to participate at The POWER of Professional Women conference in Philadelphia, PA. Kim Huggins, a Partner at ALULA, spoke and moderated the panel titled “Mismanaged Millennials: Why employees under 40 are leaving and what leaders can do.”
During the panel, Kim engaged with Millennials in the workforce to find out why they change jobs and what companies can do to retain them. Research shows that 21% of Millennials changed jobs in the past year, and 60% say they are open to new job opportunities.
The Millennial panelists, coming from diverse industries, confirmed much of the research ALULA conducted on Millennial retention, and they provided information that corroborated previous findings. Based on the culmination of research and this panel discussion, here are the five reasons that Millennials leave employers, along with direct insights from Millennials themselves.
Misalignment between work and personal values
Millennials define meaningful work differently than any other generation. As a result, they are more likely to take action if they feel their values don’t align with their company’s values. During the panel, here’s what Millennials had to say:
“I’ve seen a lack of diversity in the leadership levels at companies, and when there are no women in leadership roles, that’s a big deal to me.”
“I want to feel valued and connected to the organization I work for, and I look for the larger milestones to be broken down, so they feel relevant to me and those at my level.”
“When leaders leave, the culture they created no longer exists, so I have moved around to find the right team and the right culture, which is important to me.”
Lack of development that is specialized and valuable
Development looks different to the Millennial generation, and they seek both positive and constructive feedback regularly. This means they are looking for more than twice-yearly performance reviews:
“I want to actively talk about what’s next with my manager, sharing what I want so they can open up lanes for me to connect, build relationships and move. It’s not just about progression; it could also be a new door or gap in my experience that I need to work on.”
And Millennials want to learn, grow and try new things:
“I’ve created a six-month rolling development plan for my team, and some of those opportunities are outside of the core function. This creates great dialogue around opportunities they haven’t thought about before, so we can try new things and see what works.”
Leader behaviors and relationships
Millennials want to feel cared about and supported by their managers. They seek guidance often and want a leader that is open, flexible and engaging. During the panel, there were echoing insights supporting this idea:
“There is no question that my boss is a key part of why I stay or choose to look elsewhere. Our relationship is critical.”
“Relationship building is huge for my generation. It’s very much about getting to know individuals from other functions and figuring out how we can collaborate.”
“I’ve seen the better leaders engage in regular conversations about the plan and how it impacts the people on the team. I know that when I learn about my team, it helps me make sense of how we can get it done and get results.”
Feeling that their skills and knowledge are underutilized
Millennials are the most educated generation, with 40% having a bachelor’s degree or higher. They are curious, ask a lot of questions and want to contribute immediately. They enter the workforce with a lot of knowledge and often feel that it is not tapped into:
“I have no problem working hard and I want to add value, but I need to understand the ‘why’ behind the things I am asked to do. I also want the organization to be open to the ideas and knowledge I bring to the table. Don’t dismiss them because you feel I don’t have enough time in the workforce.”
Another panelist shared:
“Curiosity can come across as pushing back or pushing buttons, but I just want to learn so I can do my job.”
Lack of flexibility
Gen X really started to push for more flexibility in the workplace, and Millennials have continued this push with even more informality and expect it at their place of employment. One panelist summed it up best, with the others all nodding in agreement:
“I don’t have to work 9 to 5.”
“Feeling like I have the flexibility to do my job and address my personal needs/interests makes me more engaged and likely to stay.”
What Can Leaders Do to Retain Millennials?
We often hear from many companies across industries that their biggest challenge is retaining Millennial talent. Did you know that by the year 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials and younger? It’s essential for organizations to determine how to make their workplace and culture attractive to these generations.
Here are a few easy things every leader can do to be best positioned for retention:
Get to know your employees on a personal and professional level. Ask them what their strengths are, what they value and how they want to contribute.
Communicate regularly, proactively, constructively and positively. Help your employees see the big picture and understand their role as it relates to the business and results.
Be open to new ideas from all employees. Flex your style and seek out opinions from the team, encouraging people to try new things.
This panel was so impressive and provided some really valuable perspective for employers. They are the future and have so much to offer that it is well worth the effort to retain them.
Get to know your team, embrace people’s differences, understand what’s important to them and leverage their strengths. Take those steps and you are likely to be rewarded with employees who are highly engaged, are more productive and get the results businesses need.
Learn how to leverage the strengths of your entire multigenerational workforce with our free whitepaper. Click below to download it now.