Why Millennials Leave Organizations and 3 Keys to Solve It

February 18, 2016

The greatest talent challenge currently facing the world’s employers is engaging the Millennial generation. Businesses run the risk of losing a large percentage of their workforces if they do not adjust to nurture loyalty among Millennials.


In Deloitte’s recent 2016 Millennial Survey, they collected the views of nearly 7,700 Millennials representing 29 countries around the globe. All participants were born after 1982, have obtained a college or university degree, are employed full-time, and predominantly work in large (100+ employees), private sector organizations. The survey had a focus on Millennials’ values and ambitions, drivers of job satisfaction, and their increasing representation on senior management teams.

Millennials are leaving.

Millennials have recently become the largest share of the US labor market. In this current survey, 12% of Millennials are either the head of a department or division or 7% have a position within his or her senior management team or board. Millennials are no longer the leaders of tomorrow but rather are rapidly becoming the leaders of today. Yet there is remarkable absence of Millennial loyalty and engagement that represents a serious challenge to the longevity of any business.

• 66% of Millennials expect to leave their organization by the end of 2020.

• Only 16% of Millennials see themselves with their current employers a
decade from now.
Millennials are leaving. Why?
The lack of leadership development and flexibility.
The primary factor contributing to the decline of Millennial loyalty is the Millennial belief that businesses are not doing enough to bridge the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created. Millennials feel underutilized and believe they’re not being developed as leaders.

• 63% of Millennials believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed; and yet the #1 most important driver for Millennials to evaluate job opportunities is the ability to progress and take on leadership roles.

• 71% of Millennials likely to leave a company within two years believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed.

• Only 24% of Millennials are “very satisfied” with the learning opportunities and professional development programs at work.

• 50% of male and 48% of female Millennials say they are “being overlooked for potential leadership positions.”

• Only 28% of Millennials in 2015 felt that their current organization was making ‘full use’ of the skills they currently have to offer.

The secondary factor contributing to Millennials leaving organizations is the lack of workplace flexibility.

• 88% of Millennials wish they could have greater opportunity to start and finish work at the times they choose.

• 77% of Millennials wish to have greater mobile connectivity, such as via tablets and smartphones.

• 75% of Millennials would like to start to, or more frequently, work from home or other locations where they feel more productive; only 43% currently do so.

Millennials are leaving. What’s a company to do?

The survey suggests three key actions to ensure an organization can arrest this “brain drain.” An employer that can execute these actions is likely to be more successful than its rivals in securing the talents of the Millennial generation.
1) Identify, understand, and align with Millennials’ values.

• Millennials intending to stay with their organization for at least five years are far more likely than others to report a positive culture and focus on the needs of the individual.

• Millennials believe the most important values a business should follow for long-term success is put employees first and have a solid foundation of trust and integrity.

• Millennials choose employers whose values reflect their own; 56% of Millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.”

• Millennials choose employers who demonstrate a strong sense of company purpose beyond financial success; 87% of Millennials believe that “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.”

• Millennials who believe business has a positive impact on wider society measure organizations against: product and service quality (63%), employee satisfaction (62%), customer satisfaction (55%), turnover (29%), reputation (27%), and longevity (24%).

2) Satisfy the demands Millennials have of employers.

• Pay and financial benefits drive Millennials’ choice of organization more than anything else.

• Millennials most important drivers of employer choice (excluding salary) are: work-life balance (16.8%), opportunities to progress/be leaders (13.4%), flexibility i.e., remote working, flexible hours (11.0%), sense of meaning from work (9.3%), and professional development training programs (8.3%).

• A greater degree of workplace flexibility would increase Millennials level of satisfaction and 51% of Millennials expect productivity to increase if people in their organization could work from home or places other than the main location.

• An ideal Millennial workweek would include significantly more time devoted to the discussion of new ideas and ways of working, on coaching and mentoring, and on the development of their leadership skills.

• Millennials who feel in control of their careers demonstrate more loyalty; only 29% of Millennials say they have “total control” over their career paths.

• Create a creative and inclusive work culture; 76% of Millennials are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture rather than a more authoritarian, rules-based approach.

• Millennials report high levels of employee satisfaction when the following aspects exist: open and free-flowing communication, culture of mutual support and tolerance, strong sense of purpose beyond financial success, active encouragement of ideas among all employee, strong commitment to equality and inclusiveness, and support and understanding of the ambitions of younger employees.

3) Support Millennials’ ambitions and professional development.

• Creating new leaders through development opportunities builds Millennial loyalty.

• Millennials demonstrate more loyalty when they are most satisfied with their employer’s development programs; only 24% of Millennials are “very satisfied” with the learning opportunities and professional development programs at work.

• The most loyal Millennial employees are more likely to agree that: younger employees are actively encouraged to aim for leadership roles.

• Millennials would like to increase the time devoted to leadership skills development from 2.7 to 4.5 hours a week—an increase of two-thirds.

• 68% of Millennials likely to stay over five years with a company agree that they have support/training widely available to progress in leadership roles.

• Encouraging mentorship promotes loyalty; Millennials intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%) than not (32%).

• Over 90% of Millennials with mentors describe the quality of advice and the level of interest shown in their development as “good.”

About the Author: Ryan Jenkins is an internationally recognized speaker and trainer who helps organizations better lead, engage, and market to Millennials and Generation Z. He shares his top-ranked generational insights on his blog and podcast.

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