How to Hold on to Job Hopping Millennials


Historically, there has been some stigma around being too ‘mobile’ in the job market. Job hopping was frowned upon by potential employers, perhaps for displaying a lack of loyalty or indecision in the workplace. 

A new study from the University of NSW suggests that while that perception is commonly held, businesses may need to adapt to new realities in the workplace. 

A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which found that less than half of the Australian working population had been in their job for more than 5 years. The survey also found 56 per cent were in their current job for less than five years, and 20 per cent had been there for less than 12 months. 

In a recent study, it was found that 86 per cent of Millennials would quit their jobs today if it meant pursuing something else that catered to their “professional or personal passions.” But it’s important to note job hopping isn’t a trend exclusive to millennials – on average, Baby Boomers held around 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48. 

While it’s more acceptable today for job seekers to have a varied work history, the cost of replacing employees can be very expensive for employers, especially to those facing an economic downturn. What’s more, with apprentice completion rates as low as they are, if millennials are job hopping away from finishing their apprenticeship, this is problematic overall for Australian industry.

So what can businesses do to hold onto job hopping millennials?

Understanding what appeals to millennials is an important first step. As we outlined in an earlier story, millennials rate the opportunity for growth, learning and development as their highest employee benefit. This is followed by flexible work/life balance, with financial reward rounding out the top three. As one millennial pointed out, “instead of bracing for job hopping, [businesses] should place more effort on creating an environment that gives their young employees opportunities that they can’t get anywhere else.” 

Mentoring is very important to millennials; establishing comprehensive feedback and guidance systems are a cost-effective way of building relationships and accelerating learning. (This is where the one-on-one mentorship that MIGAS provides can come in handy with your millennial apprentices!)

Foster supportive connections and take care to explain how the role fits in to the daily running of the business. For first year apprentices especially, it can be discouraging for them to feel like they’re being given the “grunt work”. Take the time to explain the importance of every task and how it fits into the bigger picture. Encourage older apprentices to talk about what their first year was like, and how their role has developed since then; the opportunity to see a clear path to success will encourage the apprentice to “stick it out.”

Millennials have been brought up on technology, and expect it to be if not available to them, then at least tolerated as a part of their day to day lives. Additionally, many millennials consider themselves to be more effective in the workplace if they have access to personal technology during the day.

As with any generational shift, compromises need to be made on both sides. Even if a young person is job hopping, this can help develop their varying skills, and ultimately make them a better employee overall.

Read more about employing millennials in the workplace > 

Are Gen Y too lazy to be tradies? >

Published 14 December 2015