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Ask a Gen Y


Say Goodbye to Gen Y

June 23, 2011
Related Topics: Generations At Work, Talent Management, Learning Delivery, Millennials

When I was growing up, my father, far from a millennial, was a job hopper. He always chose to hop, and with a doctorate degree in computer science and robotics, there always seemed to be plenty of new engagements to hop to. He said he hopped so he was able to always move up the ladder and never stay stagnant, so my mother didn’t have to work, but mostly because he wasn’t satisfied after some time with his employer. He taught me to hop, and I did. After graduating, I spent only a few months in a position before taking off.

But now I don’t want to hop, and he hasn’t hopped in 10 years - the longest he’s ever stayed still - and everybody is surprised. As he collects plaques celebrating his anniversary with the organization and awards for his contribution to this or that project, he sends job openings from his company to family and friends seeking employment. He works for one of the largest global IT organizations, and yet he feels as though he’s part of something – something he’s proud of. I work for a small publishing company, but we’re both equally satisfied. In a time of record employee discontent, this is rare.

According to findings from Mercer’s What’s Working survey, released Monday, half of U.S. employees are actively eyeing the exits or have a less-than-favorable opinion of their employers. Nearly one in three American workers is seriously considering leaving his or her job, up from 23 percent six years ago. Further, 21 percent said they have a negative view of their employer and have largely checked out of their job. If every siren in your organizational alarm isn’t going off already, it should be. Without a change, this means higher retention costs, decreased productivity and a vast lack of talent.

Employees don’t leave for just any reason; they leave when they’re unhappy and frustrated.

According to a Right Management survey released in December, 84 percent of American adults said they actively intend to seek a new position this year. Additionally, findings from a MetLife survey titled "Study of Employee Benefits Trends" demonstrate that one in three employees hopes to be working somewhere else in the next 12 months.

These are averages across all generations. If we take a closer look at those known for their quick departures, the numbers are even more troubling.

Seventy percent of millennials say there is a possibility they will change jobs once the economy improves, according to a study by SBR Consulting. More than one-third (36 percent) stated they definitely or probably will.

During the peak of the recession, employees were far more likely to stay put unless they were laid off. There was a sense of thankfulness to have a job - especially for recent graduates - but as the recession dragged on and companies kept cutting, fewer employees were left and resources became scarce. Morale began to drop to an all-time low, but it was accepted because the gratitude for employment prevailed. Times have changed.

Amazon might be adding 5,000 new jobs, and its growth isn’t limited to the U.S. The company’s employees are stressed, but they’re satisfied; few millennials are fleeing tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Dell, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. Further, private-sector employment increased by 38,000 from April to May on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.

The new unemployment problem isn't a lack of jobs, but too few qualified workers.  Siemens, whose 15 divisions in industry, energy and health care employed about 405,000 U.S. workers last year, has about 3,200 job vacancies. What’s stopping one of your skilled employees, especially a younger one, from filling one of those spots?

As the economic recovery continues to churn, employees will carry on fidgeting. Those who feel unfulfilled will leave. Forty percent of employees aged 25-34, and 44 percent of those 24 and younger are seriously considering leaving their job. What are you doing to stop your next generation of leaders from fleeing?

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