Forbes.com reports that 91% of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years. “Job hopping is the new norm for millennials.” Why are you moving around so much Gen-Y?
I hear and read about this all the time. In fact, I read an article recently that referred to Gen-Yers as a “human resources nightmare.” I feel like you always hear the bad things about our generation. We are over educated but we don’t want to work; we are always looking for the next best thing; we feel entitled but we have no real world skills. Did you ever hear about the girl who wanted a job so badly she worked thirty hours a week for free for four months? Not as in intern, but as a volunteer. This was after college, only with the hopes of learning something valuable and possibly getting a part time, ten dollar an hour position down the road? I don’t know about you, but my rent doesn’t pay itself. Or what about the young man who took an entry-level position that he was completely over qualified for because his goal was to start a career, from the bottom up, with a reputable company? He lives a modest life and barely makes enough after taxes to support himself, but that was all okay. He saw it as “one step backwards, two steps forward.”
Those are not the stories we seem to hear about too often.
In college, one of my prized writing pieces was an investigative research paper about the depreciation of the four-year bachelors degree. While it was amazing to write about, it painted a grim picture of the post-college world of work for me. So grim, I almost dropped out of school to join a specialty program. My parents always told me that having a college degree would change my life and give me opportunities they never had. Of course I am beyond grateful. Being able to go to college is such a privilege and an honor; but as revealed through the research, I discovered that everyone else’s parents thought the same thing that mine did. It turned out that so many millennials were getting general degrees that hardly any of us possessed the specialized skills the working world demanded. Around the same time, the U.S. economy tanked and millions of retirees were forced to return to work. The job market was inundated with experienced workers and Gen-Y; the odds weren’t in our favor.
Let’s examine the role of leadership in here too. Millennials, like most people, get excited at the prospect starting a promising new job. They aren’t in the final interview anticipating the next job-hop and the bigger-better interview they will have with the next company two years down the road. What I have heard so many times is that once they get settled in they realize that the work is not what the interview described. The most common story isn’t even about the job, it’s about the leadership. Supervisors aren’t investing in them; they aren’t showing or teaching them; they aren’t leading by example. That isn’t just a Gen-Y story either. It is reported that 88% of associates do not trust their boss to tell the truth. It is also reported that 86% of associates leave their boss, not their company. Our country is in the midst of a leadership crisis. We don’t feel good about our leaders and we aren’t developing Gen-Y to be the leaders of tomorrow. Unlike the boomers, we are not retiring anytime soon…why not keep our options open?
I am Gen-Y. I think about all these things often. I am not representative of the less than optimal reputation that precedes my generation. I want to be valued in a workplace. I want to make a positive difference. I am optimistic about what the future holds. I want a good life: a prosperous career and a happy, healthy family, just like most people in the world, Gen-Y or otherwise. Times are changing. My generation will occupy 75% of the workforce between 2020 and 2025 –we need to change with the times.
That being said, maybe the question is not “WHY, Gen-Y, are you job hopping?” Maybe the question is,” WHAT, Gen-Y, can we do differently to make you want to stay?”