We’ve all heard the complaints: “Millennials are ruining the economy, millennials are lazy, millennials have no loyalty” etc., etc. While it might mystify your great uncle Milford that someone under the age of 35 has already held several different positions in their career, there’s actually a good reason for millennials to move around a bit.
A recent Gallup report reveals that 21% of millennials (those born between 1980 and 1996) say they’ve changed jobs within the past year. However, Gallup data also shows that only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. With the national engagement average at 34%, this means millennials are much more likely than other generations to feel unmotivated and uninspired by the work they’re doing.
Motivation is crucial for millennials in the job market — and a big contributor to job-hopping. Here’s why:
Millennials came of age during the Great Recession. Amongst other things, this means that they are on track to be the first generation not to exceed their parents in terms of job status or income. It also means that many millennials have been forced to take jobs that aren’t even in the same field as their ideal careers, just to have a job in general.
Employers who are more aware of millennials finding their footing are more likely to benefit from the experience, as opposed to expecting them to stay stuck in a job that’s not helping anyone. Sometimes finding the right fit might take a job or two (or three or four.) Raised in the age of “you can be whatever you want to be,” millennials are unwilling to settle for good enough.
The millennial burnout
In her 2019 article, Anne Helen Petersen sparked a conversation on millennial burnout. In it, she describes the crippling anxiety that most millennials experience around the need to always be working. One contributing factor? The accessibility of the workplace.
Millennials don’t get to turn off or unplug or leave work at the office. Work travels everywhere with us in our pockets, even on vacations. A good employer actively works to promote a culture of unplugging, while others miss the mark. Some employers aren’t aware that the “no days off” mindset is the mentality they’re promoting, leading to burnout.
Once burned out, millennials take those feelings of being uninspired or unmotivated and search for something new. We aren’t lazy or unloyal; we’re just unwilling to let ourselves be taken advantage of.
The end goal
In another blog post for RSM, I touched on how millennials reward companies that support the causes we care about through brand loyalty and purchasing habits. It’s also been shown that millennials want to work for companies that support the social and environmental issues we care about. We want to contribute to companies that are making a difference.
A sense of purpose helps combat those feelings of being unmotivated or uninspired if we’re putting our hustle toward something that matters. Opportunities to learn new skills and chances for advancement are also high on the list that millennials are on the lookout for when they take a new job.
At the end of the day, each generation faces new challenges and new social norms that dictate how they interact. For millennials, our hustle looks different than the generations before us.
Millennials are looking for fair compensation after being told that working hard was the only way to get rewarded, and then finding ourselves being taken advantage of. Benefits like working remotely allow us to move out of the expensive cities and into suburbs where we can afford real estate, often a decade behind the age when our parents were able to do so.
Searching for these benefits and finding work that keeps us feeling inspired might take some job-hopping, but once it’s achieved, employers will reap the benefits.