Job-hoppers… or Meaning-seekers? How Perceptions of Millennial Workers May Result from Ineffective Talent Management

ADP Research Institute®

Job-hoppers… or Meaning-seekers? How Perceptions of Millennial Workers May Result from Ineffective Talent Management



Millennials – and their work habits – have received a fair degree of scrutiny in recent years. These 18-to-35-year-old workers have at times been dubbed job-hoppers or characterized as having unrealistic expectations about what companies should be offering them. But new research, along with candid employee feedback, suggests they’re far from fickle. Instead, millennials could be confirming talent management deficiencies their older peers also experience but are less likely to act on.

From ADP Research Institute’s® recent Midsized Talent study, here are some of the top talent takeaways that can help HR practitioners better understand the needs of their Millennial employees.

They’re not looking for greener grass – they’re looking to grow

Millennial employees have earned a reputation as being more inclined than older workers to move to a new company rather than stay and climb the ranks. Viewed through the lens of talent management, this pattern could indicate millennials aren’t receiving the career development opportunities they’re seeking in their job experiences. The Midsized Talent study reveals that throughout the job continuum – recruitment to development to engagement – millennials place a high priority on advancement opportunity.

When evaluating a new job, 26% of millennials say they weigh a position’s development and advancement potential, compared to 19% of Gen Xers and 11% of Baby Boomers. Once they start work, they are also more likely to feel optimistic about the chance to advance. While 53% of millennials believe there’s a fair path to growth within their company, only 46% of Gen Xers and 34% of Baby Boomers agree.

Millennials want to feel connected to their work – and to disconnect from it

Millennial emphasis on advancement isn’t just self-serving: These workers continually express an interest in having a meaningful impact through their work. Compared to older employees, millennials are more likely to say they want to play an important role in their company (82%).

Companies hoping to improve engagement – and retention – of millennials might be well-served to strengthen their performance review strategies. These workers are also most likely to take interest in creating a career plan with formal goals, with 27% saying this is important to successful onboarding compared to 23% of Gen X employees and 16% of Baby Boomers. Once on the job, millennials are also more likely to believe meeting these established goals is meaningful – and to associate doing so with perceived growth path within the company.

Millennials want more than professional development. They want flexibility. More than any other age group, they want to work from home and have some control over their work. They are also more likely than older employees to expect to disconnect from work at the end of the day and to say they actually do so.

If they can’t see a path for growth, they’ll leave

In keeping with their interest in growing their careers, millennials are most likely to reach for jobs somewhat outside their skillsets and to leave a job if there’s not potential to advance. A combined 72% say they’re either interviewing, job hunting, or would consider a new company if contacted by a recruiter or saw an opportunity on LinkedIn or another source.

Millennials are also more likely than older workers to say they have walked away from a job that didn’t meet their expectations (51% vs. 45% among both Gen X and Baby Boomers). Lack of career development/advancement opportunities is another top reason millennials give for leaving a job.

Certainly, home life affects work priorities for employees too. Younger workers may have fewer household obligations, such as supporting school-aged children, and therefore be more open to job change in the name of advancement. Older workers, particularly as they near retirement, may prioritize stability and factors such as cost of benefits.

To better retain millennials, then, employers should emphasize steps for growth and advancement within the company. Advertise internal job postings and opportunities to develop. Otherwise, millennials show they have the desire – and often, the lifestyle freedom – to find a path to advance somewhere else.

About this report: The ADP Research Institute conducted an online survey among 500 employers and 1,415 employees at midsized companies. The survey fielded in September 2016. Midsized companies were defined as those with 50 to 999 employees. The employee sample includes a representative sample of the U.S. working population, age 18 and above. The employer sample includes talent decision makers, comprised of representatives from HR and other departments.

Keywords: HR Management, Talent Management

Business Types: Research for Midsized Organizations

Roles: Research for Human Resources Professionals

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