Despite being typecast as job hoppers, millennials are actually loyal if the work culture is just right

Indah Mustikasari
Despite being typecast as job hoppers, millennials are actually loyal if the work culture is just right

Creating a culture wherein millennials can be productive and fun at the same time will drive their loyalty

Millennials are the largest labor group in 2015. However, according to some widely held stereotypes, millennials have bad reputations in the workforce. One of those bad reputations is telling that millennials have “job-hoppers” mentality.

2016 Gallup poll found that 21% of Millennials changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials. Deloitte who surveyed 7,700 millennials from 29 countries around the world shows 40 percent of millennials have the intention to resign if there’s a chance, and 63 percent feel they have a lack of self-development.

Those 2016-ish surveys have been giving a stained image among millennials. This “job-hoppers” stereotype needs to be taken seriously. Millennials are portrayed as not loyal, needing constant recognition and appreciation, easy come and easy go, etc. But as a millennial worker in this era, I feel skeptical towards those stereotypes. Are we really that bad?

Also read: Working for a millennial CEO taught me how to be confident, brave, and a little bit crazy

Let’s talk about numbers, a study from Pew Research shows millennials aren’t job-hopping any faster than generation X did at the same age. And among the college-educated, millennials have longer track records with their employers than Generation X workers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today’s Millennials.

The same study also found that millennials may be sticking with their current employers due to a bigger opportunity for their self-development.

With these studies, we can conclude the characteristics of millennials worker are not necessarily giving exertions to the employers. Instead, those characteristics have proved the old work culture mindset is no longer relevant in the meantime. If we look at it from the other side of the coin, maybe some employers need to re-think how their values and culture are effective enough to decrease the turnover rate of its employee.

As a millennial that currently embarking my career in a startup company, iPrice, I feel my office brings much impact that makes me love and proud of my job more than ever. Like many startup companies in general, my company also demolished the old conservative work-culture such that it has become a dream workplace for millennials.

I do admit this kind of work-culture drive its millennial workers happily to stay in the same company for years. Here are some values that currently my company lives in that may inspire you.

1. Rigid Job Descriptions are Eliminated

One of many reasons why millennials are leaving their job because they don’t have a sense of belonging and take the ownership of the business. One of the values that penetrate in my office is “Take ownership beyond your role”. This means every employee feel free to do tasks beyond their job description. Be it a product feature or empty water barrel in the office pantry.

This ownership value will drive millennials to be unafraid to make a change and give feedback to improve products or services of the company.

My office is really encouraging its employee to engage in productive conflicts. We believe it is a great way to achieve better results. This also will break the barrier of rigid culture that tells “boss is always right” and “just do whatever boss told you”.

2. Employees are Free to Stretch Themselves

Most millennials have no idea what career they would like to pursue, let alone the career path of their current employer. Millennials like challenges, they like to learn something new and exciting. Those traits sometimes misunderstood as easily bored and lazy of constant and repetitive tasks.

If you want to retentive your millennial employee, create a culture where they can escalate their skills. Conduct an open training where people can join or provide workshops that beneficial for them.

I saw my colleague moved from content writer department to become a business intelligence analyst. Someone from Quality Assurance now become an aspiring marketer. A visual designer wants to learn UI/UX, why not? It’s their career, let them take every opportunity to challenge and stretch themselves.

3. Work Hard, Play Harder

Studies show a flexible and fun workforce brings more productivity for millennial workers. Millennials define work and productivity differently than other generations. For older workers, the workday is defined by being physically present in the workplace—but millennials are always connected by technology and can get their work done from virtually anywhere.

Also read: In the age of millennials, true leadership means leading without a title

Many millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working styles. They prefer a casual environment where they can be fun and productive at the same time. If wearing a t-shirt and rainbow hair-dye can increase their productivity, let them be.

It’s a common thing in my office where a CEO shoots someone from QA department with a Nerf gun around the office or where we try to hijack someone’s computers to post silly Slack messages. There is always a playtime, but we also take our professional commitments and deadlines seriously.

4. A Supportive Environment is Key

The notion that millennials need constant recognition and praise for doing their jobs is a popular one, but also not completely true. The key is a supportive environment where millennial workers are able to receive meaningful feedback from their reporting manager.

Gallup has found that 56 percent of millennials meet with their managers less than once a month, compared to 53 percent of non-millennials. Meanwhile, only 19 percent of millennials say they receive meaningful feedback—and that’s not a good thing. Frequent one-on-one meeting makes for more engaged employees, regardless of age.

In their book, Love ’em or Lose ’em, authors Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans write that “a crucial strategy for engaging and retaining talent is having conversations with every person you hope will stay on your team.

A supportive environment will drive millennials listening better to every feedback they’ve received. It also makes them willing to be better and be proud of their job.

A small thing that creates another supportive environment in my workplace is a #thankyou channel on our Slack. This #thankyou channel is created with a purpose to show every gratitude and appreciation to anyone for their contribution no matter how big or small. This #thankyou channel has proven to create positive vibes and embrace respect for each other.

Creating a culture where millennials can be productive and fun at the same time will drive their loyalty to the employer. Many of my colleagues are willing to stay years in my office because they feel empowered, appreciated, and listened.

Stereotypes and over-generalizations are never helpful. Given that millennials have already surpassed Generation X as the largest segment of the workforce, it’s time break down the barriers and be flexible to make them feel happy and stay loyal to their job.


Indah Mustikasari is an observer-thinker who is passionate about learning human behavior and putting her thoughts into words. She works as Content Marketer at Kuala-Lumpur based company iPrice.

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