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This Is Why So Many Millennials Quit Their Jobs

By Daniel B. Kline – Updated Jun 8, 2018 at 6:09AM

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The stereotype that young workers are significantly more apt to resign is true, but there are ways employers can improve retention.

Millennials now make up a plurality of the American workforce, which means that employers who want their operations to run smoothly would be well-advised to understand what makes the generation born after 1983 tick.

One key thing they'll want to recognize is what's behind millennials' frequent decisions to hand in their resignations: A new report from Visier shows that members of that generation are nearly twice as likely to quit a job. In 2016, among workers with less than four years of tenure, 34.5% of millennials chose to jump ship, compared to 19.4% among non-millennials. (The Visier study was based an aggregated database of 1.5 million U.S.-based employees at more than 60 companies.)

"With employment numbers at an all-time high and the war for talent more fierce than ever, organizations need to have a strategy to attract and retain millennials," said Visier CEO John Schwarz in a press release. "Our analysis confirmed that millennials change jobs significantly more often, but it also uncovered the power of promotion as a key factor in motivating millennials to stay with their firm." 

A man leaves an office with a box of stuff.

Quitting may not be your best move. Image source: Getty Images.

What do millennials want?

Based on the numbers, millennials seem to have a yen for responsibility and opportunity: Put them in management roles, and they're significantly more likely to stick around. Millennial managers resigned two-thirds less often than nonmanagers (11.9% compared to 36.2%). But the effect wears off: Millennial managers who had not received a promotion in the prior 24 months quit at a rate 5.2% higher than average, while those who had been promoted had a 3.1% lower resignation rate.

"Our recommendation is: don't fight the tide -- work with it," Schwarz said. "Give your brightest prospects places to go within your organization. Upward and lateral moves both work well. Millennials look for constant training and new challenges to feel they are progressing."

While millennials are more likely to resign than previous generations, they're also more likely to move around within their companies. Millennials take new jobs with their current employers nearly twice as often as non-millennials (22% versus 12%), with millennial managers moving the most often.

Take a breath

If you are a millennial worker thinking about quitting because you haven't been promoted, it might be advisable to take a step back. Examine your situation and decide if you have been slighted, or if there really is no path forward. Talk with your manager or human resources, and share your career goals.

Sometimes, you will still find that leaving makes the most sense. Maybe your career path is blocked at your current company, and leaving will get you where you want to go sooner. It's also possible that changing jobs will simply put you at the back of the promotion line someplace else.

Quit if that makes sense for you, but do so with a plan, and after exploring your options. Yes, companies can do more to retain valuable young workers, but as an employee, the best way to take charge of your career is by making informed and dispassionate decisions.

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