More than a third of the workforce in the United States is between the ages of 18 and 34 year old, which means that millennials have surpassed Generation X to represent the largest share of working Americans. It's critical, then, that companies know how to recruit and retain millennials — and studies show that it's not all about beer taps in their communal kitchens, craft coffee or bagel fridays.
Why do Millennials quit?
Research recent commissioned by Jive Communications in Utah found that flexible working hours, the option to work remotely, speedy technology and an open company culture are key to reeling in the millennials and actually keeping them around. The number one reason millennials leave their jobs, the study found, is because they don’t like the atmospheres of their offices — a mixture of all those factors.
Jive Communications looked at 2,000 millennials and asked them about their workplace requirements and why they leave. Thirty-seven percent said that having a job with flexible hours is “essential,” and a quarter of those reported that they’d left jobs because they couldn’t work flexibly. The ability to work remotely was also an important factor for 63 percent of millennials surveyed who said they might not be interested in future jobs if working remotely wasn’t an option. Sixty-four percent of the millennials surveyed also said that they’d leave a job if it was too difficult to take sick or personal days. Meanwhile, over 70 percent said that they strongly prefer fast in-office technology and, without it, 20 percent of the millennials polled said they would actually quit.
But the number one reason they left was because, simply, they didn’t vibe well with their office atmospheres. In fact, the study found that the average millennial has already had three jobs, and the majority of them start to look for another job before they hit the three-year mark in their current positions. Another 24 percent are only at a job for six months to a year before they start hunting again, and 30 percent start looking between a year and 18 months.
“It’s hard to get work done in a bad or inefficient environment, which is why prioritizing a fun and positive office culture with effective working solutions is a must for companies in retaining and developing millennial staff,” said John Pope, CEO of Jive Communications.
These numbers aren’t so surprising, however. Previous research as drawn similar results. According to a 2014 report by the Intelligence Group, 72 percent of millennials want to be their own boss one day and, according to a 2015 survey by accounting firm Ernst & Young, millennials are the most likely generation to say that they would change jobs or careers, give up promotion opportunities, move their family to another place or take a pay cut to have flexibility and better manage work and family life.
What do Millennials want?
Yes, almost all of millennials work for more money and good health benefits (more than half of millennials say that compensation is more important to a job offer than corporate mission), but almost all of them would consider working for less, by as much as 12 percent, for certain other perks. Millennials are willing to give up a percentage of their salary for long-term job security, a management structure that emphasizes mentorship, a better career trajectory and, you guessed it, flexible office hours, according to research from survey software firm Qualtrics and venture capital firm Accel Partners (a Qualtrics investor).
The survey suggests that a total of 77 percent of millennials would be willing to take a salary cut of at least three percent in exchange for long-term job security. Sixty-seven percent would be willing to take a pay cut of at least three percent to work at a company that offers good mentorship opportunities. And about 76 percent of millennials would take a pay cut of at least three percent to work for a company that offers flexible office hours.
Consistent with Jive Communications recent research, the bulk of millennials Qualtrics surveyed (80 percent) also said that a company culture with which they can jive is important to them. They’re looking for companies that emphasize personal growth above all.
So while companies are reeling millennials in with in-office games and sports opportunities, they’re retaining millennials with promises of job security, mentorship opportunities and flexibility. This also means that, contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't necessarily the lazy job hoppers America thinks they are. The Pew Research Center recently reported that millennial workers are actually just as likely to stick with their employers as Gen Xers were when they were young adults. In fact, among the college-educated, millennials have an even longer tenure than Gen Xers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s millennials. When they do hop jobs, it's for the legitimate aforementioned reasons.
Forbes writer Rick Gilis points out that what is different about millennials is the size of their generation.
"The boomers began retiring at about the same time millennials began to enter the workforce, and therein lies the problem: There aren’t enough Gen X’ers around to backfill the rapidly depleting workforce," he explained. "Hence, there's a need to promote millennials beyond entry-level and into mid-management and senior positions that they may or may not be prepared for. The 'job hoppers' are reacting to a very rich and lucrative job market. The offers are coming fast and furiously. You too would take the interview(s) and consider making the move, so if you really want to place the blame somewhere, don't point at young people who are jumping at opportunity."
Perhaps it's the businesses and not the millennials that need to do some adapting. Or maybe just a bit of both.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.