Millennials Restless in Jobs, Want Promotion

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Jan. 19 — Millennials are strikingly unattached to their jobs, an international survey has found.

No fewer than two-thirds (66 percent) of the 7,692 millennials in 29 countries surveyed online by consultancy Deloitte in September and October (including 300 from the U.S.) expect to leave their jobs within five years, and one-quarter (25 percent) expect to do so within 12 months, the report released Jan. 12 says.

In the U.S., 64 percent of millennials plan on changing jobs by 2020, according to the report, which limited respondents to those born in January 1983 or later, with a college or higher degree. More than three-quarters of the survey respondents work for private-sector organizations, predominantly large ones with more than 100 employees each.

“This remarkable absence of loyalty represents a serious challenge to any business employing a large number of millennials, especially those in markets—like the United States—where millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce,” the report noted.

This is partly due to failure on employers' part to groom younger workers for advancement, the report said. “Even those millennials in senior positions express the intention to leave their organizations relatively soon. In this current survey, approximately one in five respondents are either the head of a department or division (12 percent) or have a position within his or her senior management team or board (7 percent),” and yet 63 percent of all millennials surveyed told Deloitte their “leadership skills are not being fully developed.”

“The good news is that it's not too late to earn millennials’ loyalty,” Deloitte spokesperson Christine Selph said in a Jan. 20 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA. Tips she offered include:

• “Provide leadership and skills training, as well as the opportunity to advance.”
• “Have purpose beyond profit. Millennials intending to stay with their organization for at least five years are far more likely than others to report a positive culture and focus on the needs of the individual.”
• “Provide a flexible work environment—75 percent of millennials would prefer to work from home or other locations where they feel they could be most productive. Only 43 percent currently are allowed to do this.”
• “Encourage mentorship. Those millennials intending to stay with their organizations for five years or more are twice as likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).”


No Silver Bullet

Michael Rochelle, chief strategy officer and principal human capital management analyst at Delray Beach, Fla.-based consulting firm Brandon Hall, which was not involved with the survey, concurred on many of these points in a Jan. 19 interview with Bloomberg BNA. But, he cautioned, there's no “silver bullet” that can improve retention of millennials.

“It's a combination of a lot of things. Millennials want to be part of an organization where they can perpetually learn and develop,” he said. “Organizations need to stand for things other than the products and services they sell.” This involves both being a “good corporate citizen” and offering an “employee value proposition,” he said.

Other things millennials seek, in Rochelle's view, include:

• Diversity and inclusion, because millennials “are a very diverse group,” and diversity in people is a “proxy” for the organization's openness to different attitudes and points of view.
• Cutting-edge technology that is as “eye popping” as all the electronics this generation has grown accustomed to. This is also a question of the organization's “look and feel,” Rochelle said; you don't want younger workers to get the impression that they have to “crank the wheel to get water” at your company.
• Open information sharing, which is a challenge for older workers who feel that “if I tell you everything I know, I'm not valuable anymore.”
• A flexible, mobile work environment. “They expect they won't have to come into the office to get work done, and instead can have a Hot Pocket and get great work done at two o'clock in the morning,” brainstorming creatively.
• A reward and recognition system that isn't based on giving employees a “punch bowl” on the fifth anniversary of coming to work for your organization, but is instead based on “badging and gaming” systems familiar to them from video games and friendly competition with their peers.


In the final analysis, it may not be possible to hold onto millennials for many years. “You can't get offended if they're there for two years,” Rochelle said. “This is a high-potential, high-powered group. You can't take them like a wild horse and break them. You have to give them a big enough yard to run around in, which is hard for some organizations.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at

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