Government executives and managers alike are concerned about losing their millennial workforce, and for good reason. In 2011, US government employees under the age of 30 quit their jobs at a rate 5x times higher than their counterparts over 30. And while 13% of twenty-somethings left the Civil Service in 2011, many more are at risk of leaving. Nearly 1 in 3 employees under 30 considered leaving their organization in 2011 according to the Federal Viewpoint Survey.
High turnover of young employees pose significant costs and risks to Federal agencies. First, vacancies hamper team effectiveness, as new hires commonly take months if not years to reach full productivity. Second, recruiting and onboarding new employees costs agencies thousands of dollars per hire, and considerable hours from managers and L&D staff to train new employees. Finally, with the looming retirement of the baby boomers, agencies cannot afford to lose more institutional knowledge.
Some believe that Millennials are fundamentally different than previous generations, and that they need to be managed differently to be retained. But is this really the case? To test this hypothesis, the Corporate Executive Board used regression analysis to determine which workplace characteristics have the greatest impact on US Federal employees’ intent to stay with their agency.
For purposes of this analysis, we tested the impact of different workplace characteristics on two age segments – those aged 20-29, and those aged 50-59.
Our investigation showed that both age brackets shared 7 of the 10 top drivers of intent to stay – demonstrating that these groups are not so different after all. Three themes permeated the top drivers for both generations:
- Employees want to be positioned for success – Employees need to feel that their talents are being used in the workplace, and that they have an opportunity to acquire a better job in the organization.
- Employees want capable managers – Managers should involve employees in decisions that affect their work, demonstrate competence and work well with employees of different backgrounds.
- Employees want a learning environment – Employees must feel that there are opportunities to improve their skills in their organization, and that their managers are committed to their development.
That said, there are some subtle differences between the two age groups. Development opportunities and recognition are more important to young employees, while more experienced employees places greater value in expectation clarity and communication from management.
Interestingly – pay satisfaction is less important to both groups. As resource constraints tighten, it is nice to know that the things that matter most are those that leaders and managers have at least some control over.