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Monday, November 27, 2023

Understanding the Exodus: Why Younger Generations Are Leaving Your Workplace

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Whether you’re a new leader or an experienced one, there’s always more to learn. This is especially true if you don’t get formal leadership training — which most leaders don’t.

In one study, almost half of leaders with 10 or more years of management experience said they’d had nine total hours of training, and 43% of new managers with less than a year of experience had no training at all.

As a leader, it’s important to understand that many times, overcoming key challenges in your leadership style is up to you. The good news is that there are many ways to identify and address challenges as you move toward leadership excellence.

Here are some key challenges to watch for and how to overcome them.

Identifying Your Natural Tendencies

Everyone has a default way of responding to situations. For example, some people respond to stress with confidence and even aggression, while others think things through before acting, and others freeze and struggle to manage their emotions.

Interestingly, your genetics may have a lot to do with your default reactions. Studies have found that hereditary traits can impact everything from aggression and anxiety to risk tolerance. Knowing your natural tendencies in different work situations allows you to know where you’re starting and what changes you might want to make.

Of course, you’re not stuck with what you inherited — you can always work on your default behaviors to improve your responses. However, it takes intentionality and practice, so be patient with yourself. Overcoming these built-in reactions is challenging!

Balancing Confidence and Humility

Many leaders understand the importance of seeming confident — it inspires confidence in their teams. However, too much confidence without humility can turn people off. You don’t want to come off as an arrogant leader.

How can you balance confidence with humility? Start by understanding your strengths but also your weaknesses. It’s important to know your limits and surround yourself with people who are strong in the areas where you are lacking. People will trust you more when you’re honest about what you can do and what other people are better suited for.

In recent years, employers have witnessed a growing trend — younger generations, specifically, millennials and Gen Z, are leaving their workplaces at an alarming rate. This phenomenon, also referred to as the “Great Resignation,” demands the attention of business leaders who must start enacting more effective changes if they hope to retain their top talent.

Why Millennials and Gen Z Are Instigating the Great Resignation

Though one can argue that every generation has had it hard and that we all have our burdens to carry, millennials and Gen Z have been pushed beyond their limits with stagnant wages, longer working hours, the global pandemic, and skyrocketing inflation.

This younger generation is burnt out, and unlike previous generations, they are not of a mind that one just has to keep their head down and continue working hard because of societal conventions. Instead, millennials and Zoomers have a much more philosophical view of life that prioritizes mental health and demands more from their employers.

Self-care and Prioritizing Mental Health are Top Priority

Because millennials and Gen Z are much more mindful of their mental health, they prioritize self-care. While self-care might seem like something they can do in their personal time when they aren’t working, it actually includes being cognizant of how their job is affecting their mental and physical health.

If the workplace is toxic or if it doesn’t allow for a healthier work-life balance, then they are more than happy to leave and find a better situation elsewhere — and they’re just as happy to do so if they’re feeling stagnant without room to grow.

Empower Employees with Training and Growth Opportunities

Millennials and Gen Z employees want to learn and grow in their careers, and they are prepared to leave employers that don’t offer these opportunities. According to Lorman Education Services, “86% of millennials would be kept from leaving their current position if training and development were offered by their employer, and over 70% of high-retention-risk employees will leave their company in order to advance their career.”

To top that off, Zippia’s statistics indicate that “45% of workers would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development,” and that 59% of employees report no formal workplace training at all.

As such, employers can turn to edtech and VR solutions to continuously uptrain and empower employees to do their jobs better. E-learning modules and gamified training mean that these opportunities are accessible to everyone, no matter where they are located. In manufacturing, one might even turn to VR to simulate on-the-job training without the risks or costs involved in real-life on-site apprenticeships.

Millennials and Zoomers Want a Job With Purpose

Finally, younger generations want more from the companies they work for. These generations tend to do things to derive more meaning from life. This is in part achieved by traveling more, indulging in hobbies, and again, prioritizing self-care, but it’s also about seeking purpose-driven employment.

Millennials and Gen Z aren’t trying to leave the workforce entirely, but if they do have to work, they want their jobs to be more meaningful or impactful. A study from Deloitte found that younger generations are more likely to stay with a company that has a more positive societal and environmental impact, and that makes an effort to create a more diverse and inclusive culture.

How Employers Can Improve Retention Rates with Zoomer and Millennial Workers

One of the best ways to entice younger employees and effect meaningful changes is to go to the source and ask them what they want.

One way to accomplish this is by conducting exit interviews. If your employees are leaving, take the time to sit down with them on their way out and ask them what you could have done differently. A few examples of specific questions you could ask can include:

       Why are you leaving the company?

       How do you think the company could improve?

       How has the company helped you accomplish your professional growth and career goals?

Even if you want to, don’t ask personal questions. Keep it professional and seek answers that will genuinely help you make meaningful changes.

Address Burnout

Another way to improve employee experience and keep up retention rates is to address stress and burnout, or the cause of it. Understandably, there could be any number of things causing burnout, which could vary from one person to the next, but there are typically a few main things that are the cause: a lack of flexible work options, long hours, a lack of benefits, and a lack of boundaries. 

This is where self-care can come into play. To help employees prioritize their physical and mental well-being, you likely need to make some changes, which can include:

       Encouraging breaks and taking time off when needed

       Making sure employees are clocking out on time and not working overtime

       Offering better pay and benefits packages

Focus on Engagement

Employee engagement is one of the best ways to provide more value to employees and the work they are doing. When employees are more engaged, they tend to be more productive and have higher job satisfaction. Employee engagement myths might have you thinking otherwise, but numerous studies have shown that employee engagement matters.

Provide them with more opportunities to learn and grow. Do things that remind your employees that you appreciate them and recognize their hard work. Create a more positive work environment that values open communication, diversity, and inclusion, and aligns with the mission of the company.

Final Thoughts

The Great Resignation isn’t a phase or a passing trend. If employers don’t do more to create a more positive and healthy work environment, millennials and Gen Z will continue to leave workplaces at higher rates. So if you want to avoid losing your top talent to those jobs, you must start making more substantial changes that hold more meaning to today’s generation of workers.

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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