Why Millennials Quit | National Real Estate Investor

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The way we work is evolving as we continue to add more generations to the workforce. In order to stay competitive in this new workforce and attract and maintain the appropriate talent, companies are performing extensive research to understand and adapt. “It’s important to track millennials as a workforce because today they constitute 38 percent of the workforce—and this will grow to 75 per- cent by 2025.” (McGrady, 2016)1

Recent research commissioned by Jive Communications in Orem, Utah, found that “flexible working hours, the option to work remotely, speedy technology and an open company culture are key to reeling in the millennials and actually keeping them around.” (Neely, 2018)2

A recent Gallup poll shows that 60 percent of millennials would consider leaving their jobs if they didn’t feel engaged at work—and only half plan to be with the same company a year from now. (Rigoni & Nelson, 2016)3 The Jive study showed that the average millennial has already had three jobs in her lifetime. Most millennials start to look for another job before they’ve been with a company for three years, 24 percent are only at a job for six months to a year before they start looking for another job, and 30 percent start looking for a new position between 12 and 18 months.



But before we start the name calling, millennials may not be the job hoppers they are being accused of. The Pew Research Center reported that millennial workers are actually just as likely to stick with their employers as Gen Xers were when they were young adults. In fact, “among the college-educated, millennials have an even longer tenure than Gen Xers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s millennials.” (Fry, 2017)4 One factor that appears to be contributing to tenure is high levels of education. “Among 25- to 35-year-old workers in 2016, 38 percent of millennial men and 46 percent of millennial women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. The Gen X workforce back in 2000 had significantly lower levels of educational attainment: 31 percent of male 25- to 35-year-old workers had finished college, as had only 34 percent of female workers.” (Fry, 2017)4



The number one reason millennials leave their jobs is because they don’t like the atmospheres of their offices. How can you adapt your office atmosphere to engage your millennial workforce and retain the talent you have developed?

As a generation, millennials:

  • Need to find meaning in their work. They want to do something that matters.
  • Want to understand how they fit in with their jobs, teams and companies. They want a job that fuels their sense of purpose and a manager who shows them how their efforts advance the company’s mission.
  • Want to learn and grow. They want skills that make them competitive. Some 68 percent of millennials who strongly agree they have had opportunities at work to learn and grow in the past year plan to be with their organizations for at least another year. Surprisingly, only 39 percent of millennials strongly agree that they learned something new on the job in the past 30 days, and less than 50 percent strongly agree that they have had opportunities at work to learn and grow within the past year.
  • Focus on education. Greater than 30 percent of millennials hold college degrees. This generation is entering the job market later with higher degrees and a higher level of debt.
  • Need approachable managers. Managers should proactively lead conversations with employees about their futures with the company, their needs and their opportunities for advancement. Millennials think about their jobs as steppingstones and want to progress—but they may need their managers’ help to visualize a future trajectory within the company. By emphasizing millennials’ potential for advancement, managers communicate that workers don’t need to go elsewhere for more.
  • Take risks. They came of age during a recession, and this experience made them wary of spending decades working for one company only to be laid off.
  • Don’t just want a job—they want the job. Job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. (Don’t forget, if they have to start their own companies, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.)
  • Prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work essentially anywhere that has an internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employers. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workdays, that’s a red flag.
  • Seek mentors. They are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Keep in mind that these are general assumptions about an entire generation of people, and there can of course be outliers.


It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not you, it’s them. You could be creating a culture that is engaging and attractive and your talent may still leave. Below are the top five reasons millennials are quitting jobs that they like:

  1. Better Opportunities: 89 percent of millennials said they would stay with the same company for 10 or more years if just two criteria were met: opportunities for upward career mobility and a regular increase in compensation.
  2. Relocation: 25 percent of millennials plan on making a geographical change in the next five years. If your company is local or regional, it will be hard to maintain that talent.
  3. Return to School: 16 percent of millennials will go back to school to advance their careers. Companies should consider plans to provide flexibility for millennials who are pursuing higher education.
  4. New Skills Development: It’s important to maintain an open dialogue and help millennials design a plan that best fits their talents. Managers should help them utilize the skills they possess and help them cultivate the skills they want to learn.
  5. Change of Field: Perhaps the career the millennial selected wasn’t a good fit. It would then be best for the company and the employee if the employee pursued a role that better matched her unique combination of desired tasks and skill.

The most important talent management strategy for retention is communication—communication with all of your employees. Communicating openly and consistently will enable you to design a strategy that allows you to coordinate and develop career advancement plans for your employees that in turn allow them to feel successful and engaged in their roles.


Blaire Hoffman, CPM, ([email protected]) is the co-founder and vice president of Deane Realty in Houston.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of JPM



1Forbes.com, McGrady, 2016, New Survey: Three Main Reasons Why Millennials Quit Their Jobs

2Heraldextra.com, Neely, 2018, New study commissioned by Utah business looks at what millennials really want at work

3Gallup.com, Rigoni & Nelson, 2016, For Millennials, Is Job-Hopping Inevitable?

4Pew Research Center, Fry, 2017, Millennials aren’t job-hopping any faster than Generation X did

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