The real reasons why millennials are leaving your business

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Companies are scrambling, worrying and head scratching as to how to retain millennials. It’s estimated that Gen Y are beginning to stay only two years in a role and then hopping onto pastures new. It’s a real concern for corporate organisations across the globe.

HR departments have been tasked with the job of how to retain key millennial talent, yet they don’t have the tools to work with. Ultimately they are running around in circles chasing their tails for an answer as to why the youth are leaving so quickly.

Truth be told your organisation just doesn’t cut the mustard while others do. Your infrastructure is outdated, your approach to the workplace is ancient and the value you place on harnessing key talent is low.

Despite ‘Gen Y’ being the buzzword and the workplace nucleus they need to retain, not enough is done to make sure they stay within the walls. Without knowing where the issues are the retention strategy will fall flat. As a millennial who has worked in a number of corporate organisations, the very same reasons kept cropping up as to why employment elsewhere was of interest.

If your company is struggling to retain Gen Y then I’m pretty sure that at least one of the below reasons is why:

Lack Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is a goal for everyone. Most people spend on average around 40 hours a week within the workplace. This point alone makes it extremely difficult to cope when you’re in a job you just don’t enjoy.

With the use of social media and the influx of career based blogs, it’s difficult to escape conversations where people love their job. If you’re one of the few who dislikes your job, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Millennials tend to leave roles due to what the role is vs. the definition they were provided when applying. You may take on a role managing the social media for a large brand, however in reality you have to jump through a number of hoops to do anything engaging and worthwhile. The main reason people leave is because the role just doesn’t satisfy their career aspirations.

Solution: Don’t oversell a role and misguide a potential recruit. You may see this as a way to get someone ‘over the line’ but in reality they will leave due to dissatisfaction and you will be back to square one with further recruitment finances required.


Although it’s not the main driver behind millennials leaving your organisation, it is still one which is important not to overlook. We are human, we have bills to pay and lives to lead which obviously need funding. It’s a known fact that in order to achieve regular significant salary bumps you’re more likely to do so by moving around jobs.

Organisations tend to give incremental salary increases, however moving from an executive to a manager across organisations can net you the real gains. Companies need to stay abreast of market trends and the type of salaries a job role commands. Employees will become disillusioned quickly if their annual salary is way below that of someone else in a similar role elsewhere and may seek to move organisations.

Value your employees financially and they will value you.

Solution: Offer regular salary reviews based on performance and business deliverables. Regularly assess comparable salaries elsewhere and benchmark millennial employees against the market. Accurately grade roles in emerging markets (Social, Digital roles).

Red Tape Frustration

This is one I’ve personally endured and a frustration for millennials across the globe. We like to “get shit done” which in some large scale organisations is not a favourable word. Traditional IT infrastructures and the lack of an agile environment means there’s significant levels of red tape and blockers in delivering business goals. As a wide-eyed, enthusiastic Gen Y child this may be difficult to take.

It’s no surprise that millennials are leaning towards start up environments or freelancing so they can rule with entrepreneurial flair.

Solution: Remove some of the unneeded IT red tape. Give millennials ‘mini’ projects so they can show their entrepreneurial spirit and allow them to get things delivered. Management should support where necessary.

Lack of Flexibility

Work life balance/work life integration. The names vary but the demand for such doesn’t. We all enjoy our jobs but we also enjoy our personal lives too. Just because we work in digital marketing doesn’t mean we want to spend every hour of the day doing as such. We may be keen on other hobbies.

Companies who are extremely rigid will always struggle to retain the key millennial talent. We are humans and not robots. We aren’t all programmed to work the same hours, at the same times and deliver the same results. Cut the ropes a little and allow flexibility and you will have a happier, more engaged and productive workforce. Oh, they may stick around too!

Solution: Offer flexible working hours where possible and work from home days in online roles. Support millennials in their life goals and hobbies. Allow them to work when they are most productive and not when the rule book says.

Uninspiring Management

One  of the main roles of management is to develop the knowledge and ability of those within their team or at least give them the wings to flourish organically. Unfortunately there are examples within organisations where the line of management is not quite up to the job of developing millennials.

This may be due to a lack of digital savviness or poor management skills. It’s an extremely common reason why people leave job roles in a short space of time.

Management can also be uninspiring in the workplace as they like to stick to the norm and never think outside the box. Millennials like working with forward thinking visionaries.

Solution: Constantly monitor how management deals with their staff and the development of their staff. Offer regular management training. Recruit management who can ‘relate’ with the team underneath them. Social differences can ultimately cause problems.

A Boss with No Heart

We all know a common trait of Gen Y is that we like reassurance that we are doing a great job. I think this is actually a trait which belongs across all generations. People like to know they are valued and wanted within the workplace. If you work for a manager who never praises you, even when you do well, it can become frustrating. Are you developing the right way? Are you making career progression? None of this is clear if it isn’t communicated.

Furthermore, as a millennial I like a manager who takes interest in me. Maybe they will ask me how my weekend was or about my family. These are the small things which are commonly missed by management.

Solution: A caring personality goes a long way in retaining key talent. Train management or stress to management the importance of caring about employees. Individuals are far more engaged and happy if they are working for somebody with a likable personality.

Clear Progression Plan

It’s one of the most overlooked aspects of business. Progression. For an ambitious millennial it’s one of the things they ‘need’ to see whether physically or by the makeup of the team they are part of.

Recruiting and hiring key young talent should provide them with the opportunity to grow long term. This may be growth into a senior executive or management. Equally this may be skill-set growth which would give them the qualifications required to progress in the future.

An organisation without a clear path for an individual may send warning signs. You may have a manager who has been in the position for 8 years with a team of millennials underneath him. Unless he progresses, it’s hard for any younger colleagues to see a direct progression path, so it’s understandable why this individual may leave the organisation.

Solution: Promote from within. Typically there’s real talent within your rankings who are constantly overlooked due to experience. Sometimes with experience can come a set way of doing something which may not be right for your organisation. Design a clear progression path for each member of the business so they can realistically see where they can get to in 3-5 years. With a plan in place there’s far more chance of retention.

Lack of Reputable Mentor or Mentor Schemes

Formal and informal mentoring is useful for all generations, especially millennials. It’s a valuable way of extracting information from colleagues without the constraints of a ‘formal review’ process.

Businesses often undervalue the requirement of a reputable mentor or mentor scheme within an organisation. Somebody who knows the company back to front or has vast years of experience within business can be a real positive for Gen Y employees.

Your business may lack this type of set up which is hindering your retention of key talent. Have key business leaders show interest in talent; harnessing their knowledge. The younger generation will then feel more welcome and will have a further understanding of the dynamics of both business and the specific company.

Solution: Use dual mentoring strategies where management teach millennials on business while Gen Y share their knowledge of social media with baby boomer senior members of staff. This interaction and bite sized nuggets of information can be extremely valuable within the learning process. Furthermore it breaks down the boundaries between generations within the workforce.

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