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Recently I surprised myself when I shared with a potential candidate, “I’ve been with Keyot for almost 10 years.” Ten years! Which many employers consider “the sweet spot”.

As recruiters, we talk a lot about people with 5-15 years of experience – our clients want them, and we want to find them. We want them on our team too. This got me curious about why my fellow millennials are considered “job hoppers” and what employers can do to change that.

Are millennials “job hopping” or are you pushing them away?

A quick Google search pulls up consistent answers on why millennials are called “job hoppers”. According to Gallup, there are four key reasons:

1. Opportunities to learn and grow

59% of millennial job seekers, compared with 44% of Gen Xers and 41% of baby boomers, report that opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job.

2. A sense of purpose

Millennials are motivated by mission and purpose. Of those who say they don’t know what their organization stands for and what makes it different, only 30% say they plan on staying in their position for at least another year.

3. High-quality management

58% of millennials say, “quality of manager” and “quality of management” are extremely important to them when applying for a new job. A bad manager will quickly drive them away.

4. Chances of advancement:

Perhaps because they have lower net worth and higher student debt than other generations, millennials (50%, compared with 42% of Gen Xers and 40% of baby boomers) are most likely to say advancement is extremely important when looking for a new job.

Millennials want loyalty, too

None of this was news to me, and nor should it be, but there was one part of the Gallup results that really struck a chord with me: Millennials are as likely as anyone else to be loyal to their workplace. Employers are missing out on building great teams by ignoring this fact and instead focusing on the “job hoppers”.

Not only do people (millennials included) want to be loyal to their workplace, it’s an enormous cost benefit for companies. I’ve always thought millennials get a bad rap for being job hoppers, but maybe it is more of a reflection of the companies they work for, and less a reflection of them as employees.

How to hold on to millennials

What if we reverse the narrative, hold up a mirror to ourselves as employers, and become really intentional about building loyalty in our employees?

From a tactical perspective, employers should think about taking these 5 steps:

1. Understand what ‘employee loyalty’ means to each employee

Employee loyalty is just an umbrella term for a set of emotions that make employees feel attached to their current employer and less likely to see greener grass elsewhere. To increase employee loyalty, you need to increase positive emotions and decrease negative emotions employees feel as they make a decision to stay or go.

This is not rocket science but does require effort from management. Every employee will have different emotions that play into their loyalty. No cookie cutter, one size fits all approach works here. Focus on getting to the root of each employees’ individual emotional attachment to your company.

2. Offer competitive and fair compensation

This seems like a no-brainer, but many employers are missing the boat on this one. Employees expect to be paid as much as they could earn doing the same job elsewhere. Employees also expect to be paid as much as their peers who do the same work, and they all talk about it.

The simplest way to achieve this is to publish everyone’s compensation, or at a minimum the compensation tied to each role. Gone are the days when discussing compensation is considered taboo. It’s a big difference between millennials and other generations. I personally discuss compensation with my peer group of friends, colleagues, and even neighbors at least once a month. As an employer, make compensation transparent and remove the stigma of keeping it hush hush.

3. Hire more referrals

Being in the consulting business naturally lends itself to this, but it’s easy to replicate in different settings too. An easy way to encourage this is to create referral bonuses and have an employee referral program that makes it easier for employees to recommend people from their networks. Who doesn’t like to work with people they already have a relationship with?

4. Give employees more control

This one is huge. I saw a post on LinkedIn recently that said, “Fifty years ago, the key management concept was ‘delegate.’ Twenty-five years ago, it was ‘empowerment.’ Today, it’s ‘engagement.’ All three buzzwords mean the same thing: managers should cede control to employees.”

Start by creating an environment where employees feel engaged – meaning they are making decision, not just following orders – and you will increase employee loyalty. The easiest way to do this is to have your employees set their own work hours and decide whether and when to work remotely.

5. Publicize your talent brand

We all want to be proud of our jobs and the company where we work. Companies that truly showcase their talent and highlight their amazing employees attract and retain talent more easily. Simple to understand, difficult to execute.

True, it does take effort to build and maintain your talent brand long-term. However, it pays off twofold: talented people want to work at companies where talented people are valued (duh) and talented people like to showcase their talents. Put simply: millennial job seekers look for a company where they see themselves fitting in and their talents highlighted.

Remember, millennials are as likely as anyone else to be loyal to their workplace. We get a bad rap for being job hoppers, but I think companies need to look internally at their own culture and processes to see what they are doing to scare millennials away.

Ready to implement change? Keyot can help

We help organizations with transformation efforts all the time. Our consultants will work with you to stay on top of emerging trends and adopt change to help you meet your goals. Plus, we have an entire solution dedicated to helping employers strategically staff their workforce and build a team of professionals who get the job done. Contact us today to learn more.

If you have questions or tips on retaining millennial talent, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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