Millennial Turnover: The $30 Billion Dollar Problem

A dive into why millennials are leaving company after company.

I was fortunate to find myself on the ground level of a startup right out of college. In the first few years, I was engaged and excited. Four years and several promotions later, I found myself coming home frustrated and bitter. I woke up wanting to hit the snooze button again and again.

What the was wrong with me? Where did my drive go?

I got curious, so I began polling clients and friends alike and found that I was not the only one looking for more. In fact, I had a friend, Matt, who was making well over $100,000 at 25 years old. He kept getting promotions and raises at a growing company. Only three months after his most recent promotion, Matt, quit. The crazy part is he wasn’t recruited to another company; he wasn’t starting his own business; he simply left to sit on his couch and figure it out. When I asked him why, he said, “I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to grow and develop myself and if I couldn’t see myself there in 5 years, why should I stay?”

This incident sparked a fire in me.

It turns out, Matt’s story isn’t all too unique. Millennials everywhere are jumping from job to job. My team spent the last 5 years researching this problem. The same problem that has 44% of millennials saying if given the option they’d leave their company in the next two years. The same problem that is already costing US businesses over $30 billion per year.

“I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to grow and develop myself and if I couldn’t see myself there in 5 years, why should I stay?”

Through our research, we interviewed, coached and connected with hundreds of employees and employers to understand why. What we found was simple, yet powerful. We found in each ‘leave’ story a perceived lack of one or more of these 3 factors:

1. Work that makes an impact. This doesn’t mean working for a non-profit whose mission is to rid the world of disease. More simply, millennials want to know the work they do makes a difference and has more meaning than hitting their KPIs for the year or making the company more money. 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work and 44% have turned down a job because of organizational values.

2. Connectedness to their co-workers and company. Millennials desire to be heard and recognized is often misconstrued as a desire for instant gratification or to be coddled. In reality, it has to do with millennials feeling connected to their company, knowing their opinions and perspectives are valued by their leaders and team.

3. A company that cares deeply about their growth and development. Like Matt, the most common reason for a millennial leaving is because they don’t feel their company truly cares about their growth and development. Often, it breaks down at the manager level with the manager seeing the millennial as a ‘to-do’ on their weekly task list.

Knowing this, should organizations just avoid millennials? It’s not as easy as that, by 2020, millennials will account for over 50% of the entire workforce. In many young companies, millennials currently make up 70% of the workforce. The millennial population is critical to the growth and future success of any business.

To attract and retain this group of top talent, companies will need to start thinking radically different about how they listen to, communicate with and develop their top talent.

Originally published at www.raisebar.co on January 5, 2017.

Sources: Gallup How Millennials Want To Work And Live 2016, Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, Cone Communications Millennial Engagement Study 2016