For millennials, the job market is a laboratory and each job is an experiment that gets one closer to discovering the “best fit” career.
No, it’s not millennial fickleness or entitlement; it’s a tried and true path to personal fulfillment. According to a new study, jumping between jobs during one’s 20s has been shown to improve chances of higher work satisfaction and higher pay in one’s 30s and 40s, reported the Atlantic.
“People who switch jobs more frequently early in their careers tend to have higher wages and incomes in their prime-working years,” Henry Siu, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics, told the Atlantic. “Job-hopping is actually correlated with higher incomes, because people have found better matches — their true calling.”
The media has called millennials a “generation of quitters” and managers are grasping at straws to retain young workers. But the trend of young people quitting a job after 18 months or two years is nothing new.
Millennials, like their generational predecessors, are leaving their first jobs because it’s their first job.
“If you look at the data, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers left their first jobs fairly quickly as well,” generational researcher Haydn Shaw told Forbes.
“Because many managers are in a more settled stage of life, we forget that millennials are doing what most of us did in our 20s — move jobs when we got bored, needed more money, or figured out our life direction.”
But there are two differences this time around. First, the millennial generation — those born between 1980 and 2000 and therefore those who have “come of age” during the millennium — is the largest group since the Baby Boomers. “Simply by virtue of their numbers, they are poised to make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025,” reported Businessweek. When millennials quit, everyone feels it and knows about it.
Second, millennials, raised on the “you can be whoever you want to be” mantra, are more likely to quit and then “try out an entirely new job,” stated The Atlantic. Part of the reason for occupational switching among millennials was the financial downturn that forced many to “take jobs outside their field of study with which they quickly grow impatient and leave at the next best opportunity,” said the Huffington Post.
But millennial noncommittal is no reason to not hire and train young people, since they are the future of the labor market. And there are ways to retain young workers.
“My best advice to managers who want to retain millennials is to quit thinking something is wrong with younger employees when they leave,” said Haydn Shaw to Forbes. “Instead of asking how to retain Millennials, we should ask: how do we get them engaged and productive so they make a big contribution for as long as they stay.”
“Giving them challenging work assignments, if you can, should help you retain millennials for as long as possible. And flexibility — allowing them to connect through mobile devices and come to the office outside of the traditional 9-to-5 is key for this generation, if you can make that work at your business,” suggested Businessweek.
And it’s important not to mock a millennial’s journey to their “true calling,” since the economy will be more productive when workers are satisfied and happy in their careers.
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