It’s 2019 and businesses are struggling to retain young talent. Millennials are now the largest generational group in the workforce, but are known to be the ‘job-hopping generation’, with 25% planning to leave their gig within a year (Deloitte). Companies are offering competitive salaries, full benefits and modern office spaces– so why are millennials quitting their 9 to 5 jobs?

Organizations spend a lot of money on tactics to increase their bottom line, yet have failed to delve deeper into the needs of the next working generation and find a way to adapt in the market. Millennials’ values wildly differ from their predecessors; things like flexible working, the ability to travel and doing socially conscious work are some of the core values for the under 30’s that were previously never identified as key factors for employee retention when looking at baby boomers or generation X. Turning a blind eye to these facts is costly— according to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, each employee leaving can cost a business up to 33% of that employee’s total compensation. In addition, organizations risk losing talented and ambitious employees to competitors or millennial-lead start-ups.

It’s no secret—businesses just don’t get what millennials need to stay motivated and get creative at work. Organizations may think that millenials are unmotivated or don’t have the right work ethic, but in reality, young minds are unhappy and leaving their jobs because they are expected to work in the same way that people worked decades ago, and this is completely unrealistic. If executives don’t start taking the time to research their employees’ needs and understand what it takes to create a work environment that appeals to the 20-somethings, they will quickly find themselves falling behind when it comes to creative ideas and digital intelligence—not to mention drained funds on constant re-hiring and an aging upper-management.

Businesses can evaluate their internal policies by understanding a few key make-it-or-break-it areas for millennials and Gen Z’ers. Here’s how to stop millennials quitting their 9 to 5 jobs:

Flexible working

This is a big one because we live in a time where technology is everywhere and wi-fi is easier to come by than bottled water. Even with all this at our fingertips, it’s baffling that some businesses are still hesitant to offer their employees flexible working opportunities—this is arguably one of the best changes a company can invest in to retain their younger staff.

Teams are built on trust. If you can’t trust your employees to meet and exceed expectations whether they are in the office or working remotely, then perhaps you should not have hired them. Trust often makes people become better employees, because they want to prove that they are good at their jobs in order to move up in their career and retain the privileges they have. It’s easy to see how micromanaging actually decreases productivity and quality of work, but we will get to that later on.

The pull to 9-5s is dying—millennials can get a heck of a lot done in environments that boost their creativity, especially when they have the freedom to tackle the day’s to-do list from their favourite coffee shop or lunch spot. Similarly, with this kind of freedom comes a feeling of ownership and responsibility, which creates a more engaged and productive employee that feels like they are playing an integral part in the businesses. Somehow executives are still fooled in thinking that their clock-watching employees dreaming of running out the door on a beautiful day are getting more work done—a twisted reality, don’t you think?

Holiday days

If you live in Canada or the US, 10 holiday days are common for salaried employees. Let me repeat that. 10.

I’m not sure who decided that it was acceptable to tell a human being that they are only allowed to travel, visit friends and family or simply enjoy the life they were put on this earth to enjoy for 10 days. This is genuinely inhumane—and millennials are behind me on that one.

Offering employees unlimited holiday days doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems. This just means that employees have the option to take unpaid holiday as long as work is on track and deadlines are met—the same things that would be expected when booking a regular paid day off. While executives may think that all their employees will constantly be jet setting, they may be shocked to find that their city-dwelling employees actually can’t afford to be sipping margarita’s on the beach every month.

Allowing unlimited holiday days reduces the feeling of entrapment and allows employees to feel like they are in control of their life. This appreciation will manifest itself into loyalty and a sense of empowerment at work—absolutely priceless traits because loyal and empowered employees work harder and stay with their company longer.

Company Culture

This is a big one for both corporate organizations and agencies. Each has their respective—and very different—company cultures that attracts a different kind of employee, yet both can have toxic effects that send millennials running for the hills.

A lot of corporate organizations and agencies have an implied expectation of working late, creating an environment that only acknowledges a ‘hard worker’ if they stay 2-3 hours after scheduled work time. This is especially true for advertising, PR and marketing agencies, where employees are usually young and ambitious and are expected to be available around the clock. This must stop. The industry-wide expectation that associates agencies with working until the sun goes down must stop. Workplaces need to promote work-life balance, which starts with leaving work on time and leaving work at work. Above all, when these expectations are mitigated, employees will find themselves working smarter and exceeding expectations within their given work hours. They will also be less likely to quit from burnout—which is why agencies have a notoriously high turnover rate.

Micro-management is an all-time millennial pet peeve. It is synonymous with being untrustworthy and incapable of successfully satisfying the job description, which doesn’t exactly help build the foundations for employment longevity. Millennials are keen for opportunities to learn and grow, which means taking initiative and owning their work. Allow millennials to invest in themselves and their work—they are much more likely to be happier at work and want to stay.

To conclude, in this day and age, a paycheque alone doesn’t cut it. Millennials are quitting 9 to 5 jobs in record numbers because they refuse to settle for a mediocre lifestyle. Millennials are looking to find their purpose and succeed working with their passion. The generation is intelligent, educated and in-tune with what’s happening around the world. Using social media and workforce presence alone, millennials carry the loudest voice when it comes to social change, innovation and technology— this is a powerful tool not to be overlooked. Employers need to adapt to this new way of working if they want to keep their business afloat and stay on top of the market. Cultivating fresh ideas from young minds demands a change that feeds their creativity.

Is that such a bad thing?

(Pssst– Are you wondering if the corporate world is for you? Check out our blog post on the topic: Is the corporate world for you? Here’s how to find out.)


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