Stop Millennial Employee Turnover!

By Dick Finnegan

young business man workingHigh millennial employee turnover saps us of the talent they bring and the training we’ve given them…but then, you know this and live with it every day. We must reduce turnover to leverage the talent they bring and improve our own productivity. Let’s start with some facts:

  • Millennials today are 13 to 35 years old, and will comprise more than 1 of 3 adult Americans by 2020 and 75 percent of our workforce by 2025….just 8 years from now
  • Millennials change jobs and companies 7 times by age 28, and 10 to 14 times by age 38
  • And the average time a millennial spends in one job with one company is just 2 years

It gets worse. Per Gallup, millennials are the least engaged in their work than any of the 5 generations in our workplace. We cannot improve employee engagement if we don’t solve millennial employee turnover first.


Distracting Data

Here’s more data from Gallup, telling us what millennials want at work.

  1. Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck—they want a purpose.
  2. Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction—they are pursuing development.
  3. Millennials don’t want bosses—they want coaches.
  4. Millennials don’t want annual reviews—they want ongoing conversations.
  5. Millennials don’t want to fix their weaknesses—they want to develop their strengths.
  6. It’s not just my job—it’s my life.

So there is your answer, just give them those things. Any questions?

Your questions should be, “Where do we start…and what do we do next?”

I find studies such as these to be useless. They paint millennials as aliens, creatures completely different than us who therefore need customized, new-thinking solutions. And these are strategy clues at best, with zero instruction for tactics.

This harkens to a more productive study by IBM:

millenial career goals statistics


I find comparing the left and right columns, millennials to baby boomers, to be the most instructional. The bottom line is maybe millennials are not aliens after all.

But another bottom line conclusion is more important:

Generalizations about people always fail and there are always many, many exceptions, whether about gender, nationality, race…or age

Somehow this lesson we were taught in school gets lost in the hub-bub about young people, and vendors and publications like the one above have sucked us into non-productive, spinning-our-wheels group-think.


THE Employee Retention Solution

This millennial misunderstanding reminds us that Stay Interviews are the retention solution…and for employee engagement, too. Stay Interviews pose 5 questions, are done by next-level-up leaders only, and presume nothing from the start. Let’s compare those 5 questions to the “millennial wants” list above. The 5 questions are:

  1. What do you look forward to each day when you commute to work?
  2. What are you learning here? Want to learn?
  3. Why do you stay here?
  4. When is the last time you thought about leaving us? What prompted it?
  5. What can I do to make your job better for you?

Each Stay Interview question is designed to elicit specific, very helpful information, and the summary results provide the best opportunity to build individualized retention plans. So if you want to explore, for example:

“Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck—they want a Purpose”…listen carefully to their answers to Stay Interview questions #1 and #3, and probe deeply to understand what really turns them on.

Or how about “Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction—they are pursuing development” …then listen carefully to their answer to Stay Interview question #2.

Or the one that for me is most difficult to grasp, “Millennials don’t want bosses—they want coaches” …then probe deeply to fully understand their answer to Stay Interview question #5.

Stay Interviews cut across all demographics because they address people as people, as individuals versus part of particular cult. And their bonus value is they bring better information for retention and engagement than employee surveys, exit surveys, and any article or study because they result in an agreement between their supervisor and themselves, based on each employee’s individual needs.

So to solve millennial turnover, Stay Interviews must be IN, and surveys of any form must be OUT. Want to know what a millennial wants? Conduct a Stay Interview with her and she will tell you. Stay Interviews  reduce turnover and are THE employee retention solution!

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