Why should young professionals want to work for you?

Young workers want to be loyal to their companies, but only if their employers give them a reason to stay.
Careerist Issue 1

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Millennials haven’t exactly enjoyed the best reputation over the years for their work habits, at least among baby boomer and Gen X professionals. If history holds, Gen Z workers will probably start being labeled lazy and entitled before long, too — if they haven’t been already.

As is so often the case, however, perception doesn’t necessarily match reality. Take, for example, the view that the workforce’s youngest employees are nothing but job hoppers. Contrary to that popular belief, a new survey from Zapier, a global work automation firm, found that U.S. millennials and Gen Zers want to stay at their current companies for an average of 10 years and six years, respectively.

Additionally, these younger employees say work is a major part of their lives, with 65 percent of people in Gen Z and 73 percent of millennials saying it’s part of their identities, according to the Zapier poll. In fact, the age groups’ actions reflect the findings: Seven in 10 say they constantly check work messages outside the office.

Now, the job-hopping stereotype didn’t just materialize from thin air. Other pieces of research still give credit to the label. For instance, a June 2019 study by Akumina, an employee experience platform, found 75 percent of millennials said that making a job switch helped advance their careers. The report also revealed that 40 percent of respondents said they had held four or more jobs since graduating either high school or college. Further, nearly two-thirds said they thought working in a role for one to two years is reasonable.

So, what can we make of these contradictory studies?

First, both are probably true — millennial and Gen Z workers want to find companies they can stay with long term. However, they’re also not afraid to jump ship if their current company isn’t providing them with the challenges, responsibility, and personal as well as professional fulfillment they’re looking for.

Second, both studies reinforce the idea that any company looking to attract and retain top, young talent — which should be every company — needs to step up their game to keep these employees happy and motivated. Following the Great Recession of 2008–09, many workers were just happy to still have a job. A decade after, that’s no longer enough.

I’ve always found the notion that job hopping is a bad thing to be a little silly, personally.

Employers understandably aren’t enthusiastic about hiring people who have a work history littered with one- or two-year stints at a variety of jobs. It takes a lot of time and money to train new employees, and the thought of having to do that over and over isn’t particularly appetizing.

Conversely, what’s an employee to do if the opportunities to advance within their current company are limited — if not outright nonexistent — short of someone else leaving or dying?

If we’re going to generalize and refer to a group as lazy, then it’s actually employers themselves that need to start working a little harder. That’s because it’s lazy to simply say young professionals looking to advance their career should seek out more responsibility or duties to prove themselves. With that mentality, the employer is saying, “Show me why I should keep you.”

Unfortunately, the two youngest generations of workers are replying, “Show me why I should stay.”

With the number of smart companies out there actively trying to recruit the best and brightest young professionals to set themselves up for the future, the onus is really on employers to start giving them good reasons to stick around. After all, if you don’t, someone else definitely will.

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