What Can Millennials Tell Us About Lowering Gen. Z Turnover?



Millennials are three times more likely to leave their jobs than workers of previous generations, and as Generation Z begins to enter the workforce, many talent leaders are wondering if they will continue their predecessors’ penchant for job hopping.

It may be helpful, then, to examine the factors that have influenced millennial behavior and discern what they might tell us about how to improve retention rates among the up-and-coming workers of Gen. Z.

Why Do Millennials Leave?

Each generation has its own unique set of professional priorities. By understanding what millennials want from work, we can determine what causes them to leave. Then, we can use that information to treat turnover at the source. By implementing solutions for common millennial problems, we might learn how to solve Gen. Z’s woes, too.

1. They Feel Unengaged

Only 29 percent of millennials report being engaged at work. Low engagement levels are a problem for any generation, but they’re especially troublesome for millennials, who strongly desire to feel like they’re contributing to the company and working toward personally meaningful goals. If your organization doesn’t offer this level of connection between the company’s mission and the individual employee, millennials will look for one that does.

2. They’re Burnt Out

Given their high living expenses, the great amounts of debt they shoulder, the pervasiveness of technology, and the heightened demands of employers and clients, perhaps it’s no surprise that 70 percent of millennials say they’ve experienced burnout at work.

There’s good reason to believe Gen. Z will be even less willing to tolerate burnout than their predecessors. Gen. Z has witnessed the effects of burnout by watching their millennial counterparts, and in response, they’re prioritizing work/life balance.

3. They Receive Inadequate Feedback

Millennials like to move forward quickly and make change along the way. With technology and workplace trends moving as fast as they do today, millennials are frustrated when their organizations’ outdated processes prevent them from keeping up with the pace of change.

Feedback is key to momentum. Millennials need to be able to connect regularly with their managers to check in on progress, adjust their plans, and set new goals. Gen. Z is likely to want the same thing: 62 percent of Gen. Z-ers believe hard skills are changing faster than they ever have. To keep up with those changes, Gen. Z-ers will want to lean on their managers for support.

Simply relying on annual performance reviews isn’t an effective way to give millennials or Gen. Z-ers the feedback they want. Organizations will have to shift to continuous performance management models if they want to retain their top performers.

What Do Millennials Want?

Many millennials aren’t happy where they are — so what exactly do they want instead? In addition to solutions to the problems outlined above, many millennials are also looking for:

1. Higher Wages

Millennials are paid 20 percent lower than their baby boomer counterparts were at the same age, and they are also saddled with exponentially higher levels of student loan debt. Many millennials are scouring the market looking for salaries that better match their value and can actually pay off their bills.

2. Career Advancement Opportunities:

Growth and professional development are extremely important to this generation, but a lot of millennials feel stuck in their roles. When it becomes clear that an organization offers no room for advancement, millennials won’t hesitate to find it elsewhere.

3. Relocation Incentives

US wages have not kept pace with cost of living increases, especially in certain highly desirable urban areas. As millennials begin to start families and look to purchase homes, this becomes more of a problem for them. As a result, many are growing increasingly interested in moving to places where they can get more bang for their buck. According to ZipRecruiter, affordable Midwestern cities like Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Omaha are among the most desirable markets for job seekers today.

4. Challenging Work

Millennials aren’t satisfied with repetition. They want to learn, grow, and accomplish new things. If they’re doing the same thing day in and day out, they’ll disengage. Offer them exciting challenges to overcome and complex issues to solve and they’ll flock to your organization.

Gen. Z’s Workplace Priorities

So far, Gen. Z appears to share many of millennials’ priorities, but they’re pushing things further. They want employers to offer robust training programs and ample learning opportunities. They expect diverse and inclusive workplaces that drive innovation and foster a strong sense of purpose and identity.

Perhaps most importantly, Gen. Z-ers looks for close-knit teams and meaningful connections with their colleagues. They’re the first generation to grow up wholly entrenched in technology, and while they understand it to be a powerful tool, they still want a human element to their daily work.

Lower Turnover Starts With Better Onboarding

In the struggle to lower turnover among millennials and Gen. Z-ers, employers must begin their interventions as early as possible. That’s why onboarding is so crucial to any retention campaign.

One in four employees will leave a job within the first three months, so your onboarding program needs to move quickly and efficiently through the tedious paperwork and policies so that new hires can start on more productive, meaningful work as soon as possible. Given how hungry young workers are for purpose, it’s also crucial that your onboarding program take steps to integrate new hires into the organization’s culture and core values. The sooner you introduce your new hires to team members and include them in team-building exercises, they sooner they can develop the social connections that make them feel like valued members of the team.

Each generation has its own priorities and preferences that organizations will need to accommodate to keep their talent pools full. By understanding millennials’ needs, you can get a head start on addressing Gen. Z’s challenges before they enter the workforce in massive numbers. For higher retention, use the lessons of the past to inform the future.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.

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