Recent research of more than 250,000 people, conducted by Happify and published in the Harvard Business Review in July, indicates that millennials tend to have a negative outlook when it comes to their career and their future. Is this just another example of millennials feeling entitled, or are employers part of the problem?
While it’s easy to claim that millennials love to complain, the facts are hard to ignore: Millennials want more from their work and their employers. After all, those in the survey were more likely than their elders to list as their major long-term goal finding a new job with better benefits, pay and hours, as well as jobs with more meaning.
What’s more, a recent report from Deloitte found that a majority of the 7,700 millennials surveyed expected to have new jobs within the next five years. Considering that the majority of those in the workforce are now in this millennial age range, according to a 2015 report from Pew Research, members' wants and needs should be a major concern for employers.
So, why do millennials feel so pessimistic about their careers? Here’s a look at why they're so constantly in search of new opportunities --and just what employers can do about it.
They feel stuck.
Millennials feel negative about work because they feel that they aren’t going anywhere. Many have been in the workforce for a significant amount of time now, yet they aren’t moving up the ladder.
In fact, among the millennials surveyed by Deloitte who said they were likely to leave their employer in the next two years, 71 percent said they were unhappy with how their leadership skills were being developed. Overall, 63 percent of millennials surveyed said their leadership skills weren't being fully developed.
Without the right training and opportunities, millennials said in the survey, they felt that the only way to move forward in their careers was to move from employer to employer.
How to fix this "stuck" feeling at your company: Don’t overlook millennials for leadership opportunities. Start training employees now so they have the knowledge and the skills to rise to leadership positions when the time is right. Not only will millennials be more prepared for these roles, but they will feel that their career has some momentum.
They’re frustrated by the working culture.
Millennials approach work differently than previous generations have done, but most work environments haven’t evolved in response to address these differences. Many still cling to outdated policies that no longer have a purpose -- and that can be frustrating for staff.
Overall, millennials say they want a more relaxed and open work environment. They want to use new technology at work, communicate openly with managers and peers and maintain some flexibility.
According to research published by Gallup in May, 44 percent of millennials who said their managers hold regular meetings with them are engaged, compared with just 20 percent of those who don’t regularly meet with managers. But millennials want relationships that go beyond work: The 62 percent of millennials surveyed who said they felt they could talk to their managers about non-work related issues said they planned to be with their current organization at least another year.
How to fix frustration at your company: Review workplace policies and traditional rules. Which are necessary, and which make things difficult for employees? Break down barriers between management and employees, and strive for a more transparent culture that encourages employees to communicate.
Consider new ways of working and how they will impact the work environment. Are texting, social media, mobile apps and other tools becoming an integral part of your work culture?
They feel uninspired.
Millennial employees don’t want to just go to work and go home -- they want their work to mean something. In the Gallup study, 71 percent of millennial respondents who strongly agreed that they knew what their organization stood for and what made it different from its competitors said they planned to be with their company for at least a year.
In addition, the Deloitte survey found that among those who said they would stay with their employer for more than five years, 88 percent said they felt a sense of purpose.
But there’s a huge disconnect, which may be why many felt so negative about their work: An alarming 61 percent of North American employees surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said they didn't know their company’s mission, and an additional 57 percent said they weren't motivated by it.
How to fix this lack of motivation: Inspire your millennial employees by making clear the connection between your company's mission and their everyday work. What kind of impact does their work have? What does it all mean?
In addition to educating employees on the company mission and making it central to the working process, remind employees of their purpose, by offering recognition. After all, a recent survey conducted by Globoforce found, 70 percent of employees surveyed said they had a greater emotional connection to their job when they were recognized for their work.
So, remind employees that their work is meaningful and has value to your organization and its customers.