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Why Millennials Quit (And How to Keep Them Around)

Whitney Johnson

Thinker, Writer, Speaker, Advisor, Doer

Here's a surprising statistic: almost half of millennials (44 percent) believe that working for a single company is a better way to advance their career than jumping from firm to firm. Talk about debunking the stereotype of millennials as entitled job-hoppers!

So, then, why did six millennials quit marketing and public relations firm Double Forte just three months after joining in the early 2000s? The company's CEO Lee Caraher learned the hard way that there's more to the high turnover than "millennials being millennials."

Caraher, a recent guest on the Disrupt Yourself  and author of Millennials and Management: the Essential Guide to Making it Work at Work, says that while she was initially tempted to blame the young workers for the turnover, she decided to look inward instead. Millennials, Caraher learned, need nurturing—and more. She found that the generation is much more adamant about workplace expectations and isn't afraid to leave a company that doesn't provide the kind of environment it craves—chalk full of flexibility, growth opportunities, learning platforms and the ability to do social good.

Here are three ways Caraher says employers can keep their millennial talent thriving and advancing—without job-hopping:

1) Create a Forum For Feedback

Millennials do best in flexible work environments, Caraher says, where there are no overbearing power structures that make it difficult for them to voice their opinions and ask questions. After a lifetime of sharing every thought on social media and receiving recognition for it, millennials believe that every voice, regardless of how junior, deserves to be heard, according to Caraher.

That's why to retain millennial employees, rigidly hierarchical, formal and traditional organizations need to yield to systems that are more organic, egalitarian and accommodating of a broader range of working styles. Having regular all-hands meetings where anyone can ask the CEO questions, for example, should be encouraged.

2) Be Prepared to Provide Meaning

Millennials prefer work that aligns with their value systems and addresses a social good, because, after growing up with greater access to information than past generations, they consider themselves to be more socially aware and involved, Caraher says. To pique millennial interest and passion, make the mission of your business clear. What is the "why?" Why are things done the way they are? Millennials are questioners and they expect that their questions get smart answers, Caraher explains.

"Everyone should understand why they show up at the office every single day," according to Caraher. "If you do not provide context for virtually everything that your company does, you will not have a successful relationship with your younger, millennial employees," she maintains. From internal corporate processes, to the products and services your company offers, there should be a well-defined reason behind every element or work.

3) Discuss Expectations—on Both Ends

Millennials won't try to read your mind—they'll expect you to clearly articulate your expectations for their performance at work, says Caraher. If they're not delivering what they're supposed to on the job, ask yourself: have I been straightforward enough about their responsibilities? Have I provided enough feedback to help them improve?

Be prepared to also give your millennial workers an opportunity to grow and learn. They're likely going into the job with expectations of their own—be it for learning, promotions or development. In fact, a recent Gallup study, 87 percent of millennials indicated that development is important to them on the job. To meet their needs, ask them about their career goals, and give them access to relevant resources and learning content.

Millennials may job-hop, but their loyalty can be earned. Cultivate an environment that works for millennials and watch other employees thrive as well. "Who doesn't want to know that their opinion matters? Who doesn't want to know why they're doing something? Who doesn't want to be excited about why they're coming to work every day? These are human desires," says Caraher, "They're not necessarily solely millennial desires."

Photo: Unsplash

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