British Columbia

Jennifer Newman: What millennials should look for in a job

Millennials are more than willing to abandon ship when it comes to unsatisfying employers — and it can be costly for all parties involved.

'Millenials won't be treated disrespectfully,' says workplace columnist Jennifer Newman

Two-thirds of millennials plan on leaving their current employer by 2020, according to a Deloitte survey. (Shutterstock / ProStockStudio)

Grinding it out an unsatisfying job isn't something that millennials are into, according to workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman.

Unlike generations past, younger workers are far more likely to put the kibosh on their current job. In fact, a 2016 Deloitte survey found that two-thirds of millennials plan on leaving their current employer by 2020.

But the decision to abandon ship can be costly for workers and employers.

Whether it's the endless task of drafting up new cover letters or devoting resources to training a new employee, there's a price to pay for all parties involved.

Newman joined host Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition to discuss what millennials should look for in a new gig, and how employers can start recognizing their value.

Rick Cluff:  It's a generalization, but what typically drives millennial workers? 

Jennifer Newman: Well, they tend to be skilled, well educated and intelligent. A lot of them are creative, independent, and hard working. They care about their health and work-family balance.

But they have different expectations than other generations.They expect feedback and to get ahead. They want responsibility, challenging experiences, and appreciation. They like being trusted, and they value having fun and working for a company they believe in.

What tends to drive them out the door?

Jennifer Newman is a workplace psychologist and regular on CBC's The Early Edition. (Jennifer Newman)
Bosses who don't "get" them. Being micro-managed drives them crazy. They like a feeling of momentum at work — it provides a sense of accomplishment.

That includes moving up or around the organization. If they get stuck in one place or don't get opportunities to grow, they'll eventually leave.

Barking orders at millennials, or treating them disrespectfully will push them out — they don't put up with it. They'll leave boring, routine and rule-ridden workplaces, and places that don't notice them.

What are the costs to companies if they keep losing millennial workers?

There's the cost of decreased productivity. When they leave, companies spend money on job ads, they screen applications, call applicants, conduct interviews — all these cost money.

Then there's training the next recruits and lost opportunities while new staff get up to speed — it can cost organizations thousands of dollars when millennials leave.

What is the impact on millennials when they leave a job?

It's extremely disappointing for them. They expect to go into organizations and be appreciated. 

They believe they add value. It makes them angry when they feel like they've wasted their time. When they leave, they feel forced and it's bad because they'll let their friends know.

Companies that plough through millennials get a bad reputation.

What can millennials do to make sure they aren't getting a lemon for a job?

Before you sign on, check that the salary is competitive. Some companies don't benchmark against quality companies in their sector.

Ask: Can the salary increase incrementally? Can you take leaves from work? Are there flexible schedules? Does the company help working parents? 

And during your probation period, watch out for top-down, heavy-handed management styles. The manager will make it or break it for you. If there's no effort to train you, or really help you out in the first few days, it's a red flag.

If you can't gel with the team you're on, or can't find someone you could befriend, think twice.

If you have trouble getting decent feedback from your boss, or can't identify how to move around the organization — laterally or upwards — it's a warning sign. 

What can organizations do to keep millennial workers?

Invest time and energy in developing managers who work well with millennials, make work-life balance a priority, and be serious about helping working parents.

Identify career-track millennials know how to move up or around your company, do on-boarding that's orienting and training new employees, and get millennials connected to others and the organization fast.

Make sure they have the tools they need right away and give them room to show you what they can do. Appreciate them, and be vocal about it..

This interview has been edited and condensed

With files from CBC's The Early Edition

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Millennials aren't afraid to quit their jobs; employers should take note, says workplace psychologist