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3 reasons millennials are looking to change careers

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Millennials: a generation often seen as “lazy”, “entitled” – always wanting more than they have. It’s no different in the workplace; with more than half of Australian millennials on an active hunt for the next job opportunity, their job-hopping behaviours further feed these stereotyped notions. 

But what if these tendencies are simply symptoms of ambition, drive, and a desire for further growth and innovation? Rather than slapping on these same, negative clichés – perhaps there’s more to changing careers than simple restlessness.

Why are millennials looking to change careers?

  1. To further their career path (and sense of purpose).
  2. For better culture fit.
  3. Relocation and job-hopping is becoming more feasible (and less stigmatised).

1. To further their career path (and sense of purpose).

career success concept

Alarming statistics by Gallup shows that a mere 29% of millennials are engaged in the work they do. This equates to about three in 10 young workers being emotionally and “behaviourally” connected to their job – with most unsurprisingly jumping ship for a more fulfilling role. 

But what sparks the loss in interest? Further studies found lacking opportunities in career progression and development to be a leading culprit, along with feeling a weak sense of purpose. 

According to Sue Howse, general manager at ManpowerGroupSolutions Australia: “Career progression is a top priority for millennials who expect to rise rapidly through an organisation.” Should an employer fail to meet such expectations or cater to such aspirations – millennial candidates are likely to move on to the next best thing. 

Today’s companies are thus encouraged to invest in employee professional development, offering their workers with the challenge and mentoring they desire. This can be achieved through mentorship programs, upskilling opportunities, and communicating their plans for career growth. Researchers have also found that recognising the accomplishments of millennial employees is crucial to keeping them motivated and satisfied at work. 

As a generation driven by positive, worldly impacts and social change, millennials also have a higher tendency to seek out roles that provide them with a greater sense of purpose. Knowing they’re making improvements to their industry or community is a popular reason for them to stay with a company; on the flipside, should their work fail to grant them the “deeper meaning” and innovation they seek, they’re more likely to switch to a role that does.  

Additionally, despite the major misconception of the “lazy millennial”, reports have found that most understand the need to grow into leadership positions. 

According to the 2019 Millennial Manager Workplace Survey, 54% of respondents were onboard the notion of “paying their dues and waiting their turn”; with 64% believing it was reasonable to stay in a role for up to two years before working their way up the ladder. Just under half of those surveyed stated their gratitude for their current job opportunities, acknowledging that they had “a lot to learn”, despite their desire for higher positions. 

2. For better culture fit. 

For all the negative stereotypes the generation carries, “greediness” is not one of them. 

A 2016 study by Fidelity discovered that plenty are willing to take a pay cut for better work-life balance and workplace culture – with a potential reduction of up to $7,600

The younger generation places great importance on health and wellbeing, with many of its workers keen to leave a role if such needs are neglected. Most millennial job-seekers are therefore drawn to positions that offer flexible hours, vacation time, and an awareness for personal care. For them, the cost of their ideal salary is well worth the benefits.

A sense of belonging, and the ability to be themselves among others is also a determining factor in staying with a company. This is often built through fostering an environment of free speech (within reason) and valued opinions, mutual trust and respect, and regular check-ins. 

More recent findings by Fast Company revealed that most millennial workers would go as far as to take a $10,000 pay cut – if it meant being with a company whose values aligned with their own; specifically in terms of environmental responsibility. A focus on innovation, collaboration, and diversity is also held in high regard. 

In contrast to previous generations, millennials are known to be far more politically independent, religiously detached, and open to a wider range of beliefs, cultures, and ideas. A business that values the inclusion of diverse mindsets and personalities will thus do well to attract these professionals, on top of exposing their workplace to varying perspectives and worldly viewpoints.

The generation additionally holds a deep appreciation for work autonomy and progressive solutions. As such, companies rigid in their methods are likely to frustrate and lose their millennial talent to others that value flexibility and innovative ideas. 

Cultural values are thus more prominent dealbreakers among younger employees, holding greater priority than fat paychecks or “fancy titles”. No matter how prestigious or high-paying their current role may be, a millennial worker will often move to another that better meets their personal, creative, and developmental needs.

3. Relocation and job-hopping is becoming more feasible (and less stigmatised).

relocation concept

With the younger generation getting married and starting families at later dates, relocating for a job is a much more feasible (and thus, desirable) option among millennial workers. 

In fact, a Cornerstone study revealed that 77% of respondents would consider relocating somewhere new – locally or overseas – in pursuit of a new career opportunity. With options no longer limited to their geographical location, millennials have far greater flexibility in switching careers.

Relocating can also help those who wish to start their own business, as some regions may better support their industry than others. With 66% of millennials holding entrepreneurial aspirations (according to survey by Bentley University) – the decision is both an ideal and practical one. 

This sign of changing times shines light on another factor driving the new-gen job-hopping culture: the lifting stigma. 

Companies have embraced these frequent changes in a millennial’s career, with 71% of Australian hiring managers stating they’d “happily recruit” someone who had held five different jobs within a 10-year timespan (according to a survey by Robert Half). The numbers are even greater in New Zealand, with 74% of managers in agreement. 

Our country, however, has the advantage of an increasingly strong job market – which lends to the mainstream acceptance of millennial job-hopping. Gartner studies show that 92% of job-seekers are considering at least one other job offer when offered a role at a company. 

However, as millennials advance in their career paths, a new generation of managers are expected to soon diminish the once-negative stereotypes of job-hopping; along with ensuring workers the cultural values and balance they desire to secure them for the long-term

The generational difference

As we tear apart the negative stigma of millennial job-hoppers, it’s important to address the (widely popular) notion that such behaviour is indicative of younger workers and their “entitlement”. 

As research would have it, millennials are no more fickle than their predecessors – with evidence showing the greater tendency of Generation X (and, according to other studies, even “Boomers”) to job-hop when they were the same age. Experts suggest that switching careers is simply an acceptable move among new graduates starting their career – regardless of generation. 

Thus, the overworn stereotype of flighty millennials – compared to their older and more stable counterparts – doesn’t quite hold up.

Employers should continue to look at the “why” of job-hopping tendencies, rather than dismiss them at face value. Modern companies should feel encouraged to progress and innovate their current ways; creating a workplace that values its people, as well as its results.

Invest in your workers through online courses

As mentioned, the millennial workers place greater focus on professional and personal development. Upskilled offers over 80 nationally-recognised courses across a vast range of industries (from community services to information technology) – helping you upskill your team in both soft skills and technical competencies. Best of all, it’s 100% online; letting them tailor their studies according to their needs and schedule. 

Foster of workplace of continuous growth – and enquire about a course today.
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