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Thinking of quitting your job? Here’s a criteria for evaluating your decision

Millennials have become a blessing & headache in equal measure to the HR department. They carry with them to the office a wide range of skills & knowledge, tech-savviness that is best for the ever-changing business environment, adaptability and social awareness to make an impact. However, reports all over the world indicate that this group of workers is exiting jobs at a faster rate than any other generation before them.

A recent article by Gallup labelled Millennials as “The Job-Hopping Generation,” citing data from their research that 60% of Millennials are open to a new job and that 21% of Millennials have changed jobs within the past year. Gallup estimates that Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. In UK, the average Briton switches employer every five years and the average employee turnover rate for UK businesses stands as high as 15 %. Yikes.

This is no different in Africa, the youngest continent in the world. Demographic surveys place Kenya at an average population age of 19 years old. Cited as a generation with no brand loyalty, it’s no wonder that some companies even have millennial advisors to help them figure out how to attract & retain them.

Some millennial retention statistics in 2018;

  • 41% of millennials expect to be in their current job for two years or less (compared to 17% of Gen X and 10% of Boomers) (Job Applicator Center)
  • 40% of millennials say they are “somewhat” committed to their employer (ReportLinker)
  • 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, more than 3x the number of non-millennials (Gallup)
  • Almost 25% of millennials have worked for 5 different employers (O.C. Tanner)
  • 50% of millennials would consider another job opportunity even if they weren’t looking to leave (IBM)
  • 52% of Millennials think employee loyalty is overrated (Elance/Odesk)
52% of Millennials think employee loyalty is overrated

For one to demystify the millennial hiring & retention dilemma, however, you have to understand how most young people think. I know most of the statistics to be true. Most of my friends have never lasted 2 years in any one company. One of my best friends who just got a new job this past month already told me she won’t stay for more than a year. I mean, the ink has not even dried on her employment contract yet!

Unlike the older generations, for instance, millennials would rather be jobless than work for an organisation with a poor brand. This means young people are driven by other ‘soft’ factors rather than factors such as higher pay or staff benefits. They are after self-actualisation. E.g in 2008 88% were looking for employers with CSR values that matched their own, and 86% would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer met their expectations. To many, a job is not just a way to pay the bills. It’s an experience. An outlet for them to release everything they think they are. And since You Only Live Once(YOLO) is their mantra, they won’t hesitate to make a move that they think would make them happier. Whatever that definition of happiness is, it doesn’t matter. They pursue it relentlessly.

“A bright neon on a brick wall in a store” by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Take for instance this conversation in the series Queen Sugar by OWN;

In the search for happiness though, most millennials are losing opportunities because of their job-hopping and are deemed by HR as a ‘retention risk’. So we went out to find criteria for evaluating new jobs that can help us look at both & long term factors when thinking of quitting so that we just don’t act in the moment.

This matrix by the Adler Group, for instance, provides a more strategic thinking map towards making a career move. Evaluating carefully what you will be getting in the new job i.e the extrinsic rewards e.g title, salary, location, brand, against what you will be doing i.e is it a vertical or horizontal career move e.g higher responsibility or a new range of duties, is it a stretch, will you get satisfaction from it? Before you quit your job, have a list of potential companies you’d wish to work for. Check Linkedin and your networks to find people who already work there and former staff. Find out as much as you can offline & online about them including using reviews. Use this information when engaging with potential recruiters to go beyond the sales speak and get valuable intel that you’ll use to fill the chart below.

If you evaluate your decision based on what you will get beyond year one, two or three, you will actually realise it may change your mind regarding exiting. Use this checklist against your current job as well. What are you currently getting and what do you do? What does that look like in 2,3 years time, versus what you will get and do in a particular job and company you’re looking to join.

This is not a perfect model for choosing your next career move but it beats asking your friend, guessing or just using your emotions to quit your job because you don’t like that one person at work. And hopefully, it can do something to curb the high turnover rates of millennials in the continent.

The reverse for this is also true. If recruiters factor in these points in their retention strategies or employer branding, it can increase their success rates.

However, if you see any of the following at your office, then do write that resignation letter:

5 signs your are wasting your talent (Oleg Vishnepolsky Linkedin)

Some other more serious red flags you shouldn’t ignore include;

  • Sexual harassment or harassment of any other kind including discrimination on the basis of age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs etc. One intern in Nigeria, for instance, quit her job after her welcome party because she felt the culture was uncomfortable for women. If you report any untoward behaviour to HR and it goes unresolved, do not stay in the toxic workplace wishing things would get better. Real leaders take action. Immediately. Beware of companies that rush to sweep things under the rag.
  • A terrible boss- Yes most of us wish we had better bosses. It’s the number 1 reason why people quit jobs. They quit bad bosses. If you feel your boss isn't contributing to your career growth & a positive work environment, then don't hesitate.
  • If the company practices or policies go against your personal values or beliefs, quit. Your conscious will eat you up and you will always have a battle internally about how things should be done.
  • If you’re not growing. If you think you’ve stagnated in your company or career overall, read this earlier piece.
  • If you’re looking for more, read our piece on the science of self-awareness where we share tools that can help you combine the above framework with knowledge about your IKIGAI to achieve happiness & fulfilment.

Have something else you think millennials should consider when evaluating career choices? Share below.

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Stella Ngugi

HR Generalist| Founder @JobonicsHR | Where HR, Tech & Entrepreneurship meet | 🇰🇪 IVisit for more info.