I have thought on this a while. Generation Y or Millennials as many call us are getting a reputation of being job hoppers. We are seen as employees that lack loyalty and become easily bored and therefore look to the next adventure to add to our resume. I have seen this too. Heck, I've done this. But I also see why this is happening and perhaps what employers can do to rectify this phenomena.
After graduation we are all looking for our first job. Our first real job with a real paycheck and real perks. But hey, we are living in a time where the economy is lacking and jobs have been scarce. I know plenty of hard working, educated, and smart thinkers that graduated without a solid job lead. This generation is having to struggle to find that first job and make a meaningful time of that experience. I landed my first job three months after I graduated from college. Albeit it was a part-time job but it was meaningful and has led to all my other jobs since. My generation is dead set on not settling and for being valued. I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. But I do feel that we need to understand that working from the bottom up is what usually happens. Yes, we have college degrees, but most of us lack experience. Therefore starting from the bottom and working our way up is commonplace. Even those individuals that are ok with this scenario still need to be valued and they expect incentives from employers.
I read an article on Forbes that said "millennials expect loyalty from their employer, whereas boomers gave loyalty." Yes, in the past other generations got jobs at places like IBM and stayed until retirement but those days are gone. I have had some great jobs and worked for great companies but once an individual in my generation feels they aren't being valued or respected they move on. Can you blame them?
Further questioning has brought something else to my attention. Generation Y is full of dreamers. Individuals that don't want to settle. I have heard that we are even more philanthropic than other generations. I think my generation needs to understand that these are great characteristics but there's a hitch. If Generation Y wants to fulfill their dreams, be philanthropic, and not settle, they may have to give up some everyday luxuries. I have even thought that Americans need to become more inclined towards taking advantage of the 'gap year.' Many Europeans have utilized this time - usually a year before or after college - to explore the world. Let loose those travel bugs and come back refreshed, cultured, and ready to work.
Retention is always an issue in corporations but retention within Generation Y is more like an oxymoron. We move on. We find another job. We want more. I do believe that employers can create a retention friendly environment with this generation by creating an atmosphere of recognition and incentives. Heck if my generation felt that what they were doing mattered I think they would be more apt to stick around. We want our work to mean something. We want it to matter. Words of affirmation, a thank you email, a quick stop by our office to say nice work. Now, many may find that we are being insufferable and that what we are asking for is ridiculous but think about it - shouldn't we all be recognized for the work we do no matter our generation? Generation Y may come off as immature and that we need a pat on the back to make us do anything but really we are a generation of smart individuals that simply want to be valued. Work with us and we'll work for you.