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The Truth About Millennial Employees: Conclusions abound about the first digital generation.

millennials in the workplace

The Truth About Millennial Employees: Conclusions abound about the first digital generation.

The truth is actually much easier to come by.

Employers are constantly examining the tea leaves for far-reaching insight on generational employment trends. Much ado has been made of the of Millennials and their apparent inability to remain with an employer for more than six hours. Surveys indicate that Millennials anticipate having numerous employers over the course of their career, with another 25% expecting to have six or more. The resulting caricature is of Millenials job hunting on GlassDoor.com with their phones while they email you their expense report.

It is undoubtedly true that the explosion of new technology jobs and the introduction of the gig economy encourages employment mobility, but Pew research suggests that millennials are actually behaving much like their older counterparts. When compared to the previous generation of workers at the same age, the percentage of employees staying at their jobs longer than 13 months was nearly identical (63% for Millennials; 59% for GenXers).

Every generation finds the generations that supercede it both fascinating and puzzling, and Millennials are the first generation to produce billions of digital data points in which science types look for trends in behavior. Examinations of the resulting multiverse of data results in an equally countless number of red herrings.

manage millennials in workplace

Consider this: A Bridge survey last year found that “offering career training and development would keep 86 percent of millennials from leaving their current position”, and slightly over half of millennials interviewed felt that an individual should stay at a company for more than 20 years. Professional development opportunities consistently ranks higher than salary in the list of reasons to stay with an employer. The same Bridge survey found that two-thirds would leave their current job if it lacked growth opportunities and leadership development.

What’s the takeaway for employers and HR? The message under the screaming headlines is clear: It’s All About Relationship. Employers that consistently choose to dedicate their resources to building relationships with and between their employees will outlast those that don’t. (Even if all Millennials could levitate and juggle chainsaws while changing jobs every ten minutes, they would still need a second person to take their picture.) A healthy relationship is firmly grounded when each side knows the needs and interests of the other. You’ve undoubtedly got a solid handle on how anyone employee meets the interests of the company, otherwise known as their job description. Flip the script for a second: what’s in your company’s job description that meets your employees’ collective need to build relationships and develop their career-related skills? If you’re unsure or your Job Description is feeling a bit thin, you can bet that many of your employees (not just the Millennials) are considering greener pastures. Neglect them long enough, and your employee might fire your company.

In speaking about their well-being program, a strategist at Adobe recently said that they regarded their program “a culture maker, not a money saver”. Certainly, employer initiatives that strengthen the bond between the employee and their company is the proverbial long game. And the onslaught of curious conclusions about Millennials will soon be replaced by curious conclusions about Centennials. Regardless of who sits down in your office for an interview, your company’s ability to build relationships will be a primary factor in the length of their tenure. That fact makes investments in relation-based initiatives like mentoring, leadership development, and dynamic onboarding an imperative for any company striving for success.

Mark Brodbeck, MSW

Director of Marketing at eMentorConnect. Passionate about people intent on elevating others, and other examples of enlightened self-interest. Frank Sinatra said it best: 'It's one world, pal. We're all neighbors.'