Study after study is showing that job tenure is decreasing. Moreso, they are showing that millennials are leading this charge.
Why are millennials bored at work?
Jacob Morgan talks about the average Millennial tenure being less than three years, while the average tenure for people of all ages is just under five years. Further, Payscale released a study that shows the tenure of Fortune 500 companies in the US and what they showed was quite astonishing. Here are a few notables:
These companies are those who have amazing reputations and are doing incredible things but are showing an incredibly low tenure; in these cases, about 1.1 years. Note too, the age of the employees.
Now look at the Fortune 500 companies with the longest tenure. Again, note the ages of the employees:
How could these companies, places at which many people of all ages could only dream of working, have such short tenure? And why are the the tenures of Millennials just that much shorter? Does age really matter? And what is it about companies with younger median ages that makes a difference?
The first thing I’ll say is that it is impossible to make sweeping judgments on a generation and why they may or may not hate their jobs.
Even harder perhaps, is to define exactly what that generation really is. It is tough to say that in the US, 80 million Millennials (born between say 1980-1995) want or need the same things.
What I will say though, is that from personal experience, marketers are pretty damn good at telling us how great the experience at work is going to be. The fight for talent is a big one, and the pitches to get the right people is undoubtedly hard.
What I think is forgotten though, is that despite working at a workplace full of bean-bag chairs, nap rooms, bicycles, pods, and open concept offices, it is still a lot of work. To be working at the biggest and the best, you have to be the best. So, while the amenities are there, the lifestyle might not be.
In addition, the expectations of Google are so high, that it is really tough to live up to the hype. The same just can’t be said for Eastman Kodak or Aleris Rolled Products (#1 and #2 on the list). Under promise, over deliver right? Not in Google’s case.
The second is that we are living in a time where we are seemingly competing to be happy.
The 10 second Snapchat stories and Instagram posts aren’t representative of the lives we are living and then to create a sense of inferiority. The hours at work we spend ‘grinding away’ isn’t as glamorous as the freelance photographer on her way to Thailand.
Third is that we are told to always ‘find our passion’.
While the advice is seemingly sound, how do we know we’ve found it? I’m a believer in that we never do. Why? Because I think we can be passionate about so many things, in so many industries, working for so many organizations. For me, it isn’t about finding that one thing, it is about finding the things that make us feel passionate. If we found something that makes us happy, perhaps we’ll keep searching for that unicorn we call our ‘one passion’. I don’t think it exists.
Finally, when hearing from the team lead for IBM’s Watson, I learned that 90% of the information on the internet today was put there in the past two years. The amount of information we have to sort through isn’t the same as it was decades ago. The world is busier than it has ever been.
So what do we do about it?
To fix the problem of decreasing tenure we have to start being more representative about what the experience at work is going to look at feel like. Be honest, use people as case-studies, and talk about the difficulties along with the benefits of working at our workplaces.
We also have to be OK with knowing that not every day is going to be perfect, and that all good things take time. Know that we can be happy doing the things that make us feel passionate and know that there isn’t that ‘one thing’ that we have to keep looking for.
Finally, know that marketing is effective, and that there are more compelling stories out there than ever before. Putting a personal filter on these opportunities that separate them from those which society says are great from the ones that benefit us is incredibly important.
Tenure is shrinking, yes, but I believe we can reverse the unfortunate trend.
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