It’s Not a Job, it’s a Calling

Millennials won’t settle for the grind. What does this mean for employers?

Name any less-than-desirable workplace behavior, odds are it’s attributed to millennials: job-hoppers, disloyal, jittery, selfish and lazy, to name a few. Researchers have found that while there is truth behind the stereotypes, the root cause of employers’ dissatisfaction with millennials is caused by a difference in the way each generation perceives the concept of working or, more specifically, of ‘having a career’.

The millennial mindset stipulates that the end justifies the means – the end being the fulfillment of one’s hopes and dreams, by means of leaving an employer (or five) high-and-dry along the way. Simply put, if it turns out their current job isn’t in-line with their subjective self, they’ll just try elsewhere, ad infinitum.

For older generations, and especially Baby Boomers renowned for their employment stability, the expectation that work should live up to one’s hopes and dreams is unrealistic, even childish. However, for millennials this behavior is actually a sign of focus. Essentially, it’s a logical choice between their ultimate happiness and the temporary inconveniencing of an employer.

In fact, the idea of a job directly contributing to one’s happiness is so central in the millennial mentality, that

, over one that offered high compensation. Faced with the same question, 64% of participants belonging to the Baby Boomers generation favored high compensation.

Simultaneously, it has been documented that the job market has changed from the late 1980s onwards, shifting towards shorter-term projects and offering employees less benefits. Partially in light of this, millennial employee mentality makes a lot of sense.

Whether or not you understand their viewpoint, millennials’ frequent career shifts are costing the US economy over $30 billion annually, so encouraging them stay put longer is in everyone’s best interest. Any employer interested in benefitting from millennials’ creativity long term, needs to modify the way they manage talent. Here are 3 ways employers can increase their chance of hiring and retaining millennials:

Make it personal

In an increasingly technological environment, it can be tempting to rely on big data to recruit and manage employees. Yet, if a worker feels he/she doesn’t matter, they’re more likely to jump ship. What’s more, every employee is different- one may need to feel in-touch with the process, while another craves verbal feedback. Whichever the issue, human contact is crucial for diagnosing and handling personnel problems before it’s too late.

Constantly compete

Everywhere they turn, employees are exposed to job offers. They’re seeing them on Facebook, they’re fielding messages from recruiters on LinkedIn, and they’re hearing about them from friends and former colleagues. Poaching is an unavoidable syndrome of hiring in-demand talent, but employers can decrease desertion rates by staying in-touch with the industry to offer competitive roles, trainings, salaries, benefits and even seemingly minor perks (on-site arcade games and ice cream Fridays go a long way). Moreover, employers should make it a habit to periodically review contracts with employees, giving them the chance to shape their role, responsibilities and compensation.

Share the bounty

Organizations are hierarchal by nature. Even the most laid back tech start-ups distinguish between stakeholders, coders, marketers and interns. It’s easy to forget this hierarchy day to day, with everyone donning t-shirts and flip flops, working together in an open space and calling each other by clever nicknames. In times of success, such as a company buy-out or reaching a major fundraising milestone, hierarchy rears its head and wealth tends to get stuck at the top of the pyramid. This failure by some organizations to share the bounty is actually a common cause of swift tech mobility. While hierarchy is inherent to capitalism, employers who are committed to building a strong team that will go the distance need to ensure that the perks of success trickle down, ultimately getting employers personally vested in meeting the objectives of the organization as a whole.  

Some employers may see these recommendations as over-the-top coddles meant to appease an ungrateful generation, but they’ll soon find their antiquated way of thinking hurts their ability to compete for – and retain – exceptional talent. By modifying the way their companies define and live up to their vision, along with improvements in employee relations, compensation and teamwork, they’ll benefit from the devotion of individuals belonging to the most capable and creative generation in history.