Millennials and Jobs

Millennials hate (or at least dislike) their jobs even more than the rest of us still working, according to a recent Gallup poll, as reported by Amy Adkins in Workplace magazine, May 2016.

As many as 71% of millennials have mentally “checked out” on their jobs, according to Gallup, including 55% categorized as merely “not engaged” and 16% who are “actively disengaged,” a state which Gallup described as “more or less out to do damage to their company.”

Gallup theorizes that millennials’ seeming lack of engagement wasn’t a result of ambivalence about work or their place in the world, but the employers’ inability to engage them with meaningful work.

The Business Insider 2013 article “What Millennials Hate And Love Most About Their Jobs” summarizes results of a survey of more than 9,650 company reviews shared by employees between the ages of 21 and 31 on the “Glassdoor” website, as follows:

  • These employees hate the low pay, long hours, lack of training and development, intense pressure, and lack of transparency (feeling out of the loop)
  • They love challenging work, benefits, flexible work schedules, free food, and their co-workers.

As described in my previous post regarding the  Maslow  Hierarchy of Needs , meeting the upper levels of the hierarchy of needs (see below), as proposed by Maslow, requires providing opportunities for satisfying needs for a feeling of belonging, self-worth, accomplishment, and personal growth.


I asked some millennials that I know what they look for in a job; what keeps them there; what makes it a good place to work; why did they leave previous jobs? They told me this:

Likes (why they have stayed with an employer)

  • flexible schedule and paid time off, allowing you to balance work and personal life.
  • fun events and lunches for employees (holiday parties, Earth-day lunches, lunch on days with company-wide meetings)
  • the company makes an effort to keep all employees informed on everything that’s going on
  • They have promotion levels for each position so you can always move up, and clear guidelines on how to get to the next level
  • the company is environmentally conscious
  • my workplace has many cool features like a gym, a marketplace, and a ping-pong table
  • relaxed dress code
  • my manager doesn’t breathe down my neck; I can work on my own projects at my own pace
  • paid opportunities to volunteer for outside charities
  • Team building is encouraged and supported
  • I feel good about the type of work I’m doing, the value it has outside the company
  • It’s easy to have a relaxed and personal relationship with managers
  • a clean, modern environment
  • opportunity for real merit-based advancement and meaningful raises.
  • offering adult education classes on all sorts of topics and $800 per year with which to attend them.

Dislikes (why they left previous jobs)

  • Didn’t get along with coworkers or didn’t like the general atmosphere
  • No opportunities for promotion and raises that were too small
  • Not enough work to do
  • Trouble communicating with management (wouldn’t return emails, etc.)
  • Management constantly over my shoulder or being outwardly intimidating
  • Felt like a cog
  • Good work wasn’t recognized by management
  • I didn’t like having to log everything I did, it made me feel stressed out if I wasn’t constantly busy
  • No respect from management, feeling like my advice as a professional is not important or considered; not being invited to meetings that directly impacted my job
  • boss wasn’t a good manager; nitpicked everything without making expectations clear.
  • no room for advancement as the company was very small
  • the physical work environment was poor and management did not approve anything but band-aid fixes
  • treated terribly by management and sometimes coworkers
  • other staff did not match my enthusiasm nor professionalism for the career
  • No pay raises, not even to cover for inflation
  • Paid time off was allotted but the opportunity to take it was not.
  • Employer more interested in making a profit than in the quality of the work produced and taking care of their employees.

One of the millennials that I talked to provided this additional incite….

I think many young people would agree that the days of being a lifer at one company are in the past. The expectation that your company will take care of you crashed with the economy ten years ago. When the average yearly raise is targeted at 2-3%, there’s minimal incentive to stick around long term when changing jobs can easily get you 10-20% instead. This is especially true for millennials, who are less likely to have kids or own a house.

…job-hopping is common, but it’s not because we enjoy the job hunt.

It is clear that higher level needs on Maslow’s pyramid are the predominant reasons that these individuals stay engaged, stay with an employer, and choose to leave others.  Maslow’s theory, introduced 75 years ago, still seems relevant today.  Employers need to give today’s workers incentive to stay with them, which calls for serious consideration of the non-monetary “satisfiers”.

Published by Dave the HR Compliance Guy

Human Resource and legal professional specializing in HR compliance advisory services

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