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Why do young professionals keep leaving?

Human Resources
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(Photo/File)What if I told you that I could give you the answer to this question? That if you listen to every single word I say here, the young professionals at your company will never leave. Now, we must be realistic here and recognize that life happens. People move away for personal reasons, another job pops up that fits their lifestyle better, and the “grass is always greener” mentality prevails. 

ParkerBut what if I told you the key to this problem is finding a way to sustain a strong young professional culture, so that they stay? If we look at the workplace today — one that is ever-changing given the unprecedented times we live in — the workplace is in need of a facelift. If it is not costing your business now, just know young professional turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually according to Gallup’s article on Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation.  

With young professionals (ages 21-39 years old) making up majority of the American workforce today, it’s about time we figured out what to do to make them stay.

Before I get started, it is important to share that I am a young professional myself and have been lucky to be on the receiving end of hundreds of interviews with young professionals from across the country talking about what they want, need and even crave at their workplaces. Their stories and experiences have guided businesses toward higher retention rates and stronger young professional cultures, ultimately raising the overall company culture as well. 

First, let’s start with the problem:

• 29% of young professionals are engaged at work, leaving two-thirds disengaged and actively looking for new jobs, according to Gallup.

• Young professionals will have, on average, up to four different jobs by the time they reach their 30s, according to Cionet, a  blog for digital and IT executives. 

• 49% of young professionals leave their first job within two years, according to a 2019 article in Forbes

Why is this a problem?

• Burnout

• Mental health

• Company culture

• Unclear expectations and poor communication

All of these issues cause young professionals to leave. Now that we know the reasons for this problem and the cost of this problem, what can you do to fix it? 

Establish a young professional onboarding program, complete with a “Company Starter-Pack” for your newbies. Prepare them for the real happenings at your office (tell them what they can expect working as a young professional first, not just at your company). I’m talking about telling them whether it’s okay to leave for lunch — or if they need to work through it, instead. Get a team of more experienced young professionals and non-young professionals to lay out the expectations now so they are not disappointed — and tempted to leave — later. 

Offer semi-annual “young professional culture” check-ins. Whether you use a professional or not to assist you, don’t just check in with them for their quarterly or annual reviews about their job; create an environment where they can share what they need to about the reality of being a young professional. They’re going through stuff that you went through too … age, credibility, learning new systems and trying so hard to get them right. Ring a bell? 

Offer ongoing training for your young professionals about being a YoPro. It doesn’t just stop after your first year on the job. In fact, you’re technically a young professional until 39, though once you reach your 30s, there should be new trainings available with a clearer focus on developing them as long-term leaders at your workplace. Trainings can focus on topics like: preparing for leadership as a YoPro; facing age as a problem in the workplace; how to develop credibility among coworkers; etc. 

Oftentimes when this subject is broached, business leaders always state that they “can’t just keep giving us (young professionals) ping pong tables and beer after work.” News flash: that’s not what we want! Based on interviews with more than 325 young professionals across the country in various industries and stages of life, these are the findings of what they want to be happy and succeed in the workplace: Clear communication, expectations, and the opportunity to grow. 

You have the power to make their experience better and in return, your workplace culture stronger. 

Kamber Parker is a YoPro living in Greenville. She seeks to improve workplace culture by offering a bridge between ambitious young professionals and the businesses who want to hire, retain and promote them.

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