Tips for Managing Millennials to Keep Them from Leaving Your Workplace

Big Think Edge | September 13, 2017

As more and more Baby Boomers prepare to leave the workforce, many companies are scrambling to find suitable replacements for their most experienced workers. Being able to hold on to promising young workers and groom them to take over the job responsibilities of senior staff may prove crucial for minimizing business disruptions in the coming years.

Unfortunately, employee turnover among Millennials can be fairly high—especially during the first few months of employment. According to statistics cited by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in an article about reducing turnover among emerging adults, “Up to 20 percent of turnover takes place in the first 45 days.”

How can you reduce turnover among your Millennial workers so that they’ll stay on and grow into the roles you need to replace the Baby Boomers leaving your business?

Some tips for managing Millennials to keep them from leaving your workplace include:

1) Provide Opportunities for Advancement… And Make Sure Millennials Know About Them!

In the SHRM article, it was noted that internal mobility in an organization plays a key role for retaining Millennial workers—although “this feeling is not unique to Millennials. In a survey of 7,530 LinkedIn members who recently changed jobs, not having opportunities for advancement was the No. 1 reason people jumped ship.”

The perception of stagnation at work, of not being able to move forward within the company, can be a huge factor in making younger workers disengaged with their career prospects.

However, simply having avenues for advancement within the company is not enough—workers need to know those programs are there and are available for them to use. All too often, businesses don’t adequately inform their young Millennial employees about their “internal mobility” programs.

According to a LinkedIn Mobility Exit survey from 2013, 69% of HR/talent acquisition professionals claimed that their internal mobility programs were well-known among their employees. However, only 25% of employees stated that they knew their employers had such programs.

In other words, employee awareness of your internal mobility programs is probably less than half of what you think it is. With “lack of mobility” being a leading cause of turnover, this means that you’re losing Millennial workers that you don’t have to simply because they don’t know they have the option.

If you don’t currently have an internal mobility program, it may be time to institute one. If you do have such a program, it’s time to start raising awareness. You could release internal memos to your workforce, hold training sessions about how to apply for the program, or even work the program into your new hire orientation process.

An important benefit of having a system in place for preparing and promoting workers into new job roles is that it gives your business the opportunity to control training content so younger workers will have all of the critical skills and knowledge needed for said roles.

2) Work On Your Job Descriptions

One of the other reasons many workers leave a job within the first few weeks is that the job is not what they were expecting when they signed on. In the SHRM article, one Millennial’s new hire experience was highlighted as a case study of job descriptions not matching work expectations:

“Ann graduated from Robert Morris University in Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in law office management in 2013, and when she landed her first job with a midsize law firm, she was excited about her new career. But when Ann (not her real name) arrived the first day, it was obvious that the partners hadn’t given much thought to the role of their new office manager. They gave her a desk near the receptionist and told her to ‘sit tight’ while they figured out what to do with her… On the third day, an associate attorney asked her to help him out with some secretarial work… By the end of the second week, it was clear that the job was more secretarial than managerial… Had Ann known that she was signing on for a legal secretary job, she says, she would not have accepted the position.”

Ann ultimately quit her job.

The problem with misleading job descriptions is that, when the new employee (Millennial or otherwise) finds out that the job offer doesn’t match the reality, the situation could become volatile. Two potential outcomes of misleading job descriptions include:

  • Employee stays but is disengaged. If the employee does decide to stay, odds are that they won’t be engaged with their work. In fact, they may become actively disengaged because they no longer trust the employer. This can lead to lost productivity and even overt or covert acts of sabotage.
  • Employee leaves and warns others about the job posting. The new hire may decide to leave as soon as they find out that they were misinformed about the nature of the job. Worse yet, they are likely to tell others about the negative experience—driving away other potential job candidates.

In either case, the company would have been better off finding the right person for the role that needed filling.

It is important to remember that misleading job descriptions might not happen intentionally. Sometimes, the wrong position gets advertised or the HR/talent acquisition team might not be sufficiently familiar with the responsibilities of the position to accurately communicate them. Other times, there might be too much pressure to hire somebody to fill empty seats, so actual job details might get glossed over during the interview process.

Empowering HR (or whoever else is expected to handle staffing needs for your organization) with the authority and the expectation to find the right people instead of just warm bodies is a key way of avoiding this issue. How would you know if this is a problem?

3) Conduct Exit Interviews

No matter what you do, there will always be at least some voluntary employee turnover in your business. You won’t be able to keep 100% of your new hires all the way to their retirement. What you can do is try to identify any glaring issues in your business that could be causing your Millennial workers to quit.

One way to watch for issues like misleading job descriptions is to conduct exit interviews with employees as they leave the company, and ask for any reasons for their departure.

You could leave this as a fill-in-the-blank survey question, or create a list of common issues/reasons for exiting employees to choose from. While multiple-choice lists make it easier to sift through exit data, mini-essays can give you better context for the employee’s decision to leave.

By using exit interviews with employees who are leaving, your organization can be in a much better position to understand what may be frustrating Millennials in your workforce so you can fix these issues in the future.

These are just three tips for managing Millennials to reduce turnover and even help groom them to take over for your company’s retiring workers. Learn more about managing Millennials in the workplace in short online training videos featuring experts like psychologist Elissa L. Perry!

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