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Retaining Millennials who may have one foot out the door

A Boston Business Journal series

Millennials are far more willing to jump ship than previous generations of employees if they're not getting the support and encouragement they need at work.

​Recruiting and retaining Millennials

An employer’s perspective, as shared by William K. Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte LLP

In the United States, Millennials represent the largest share of the labor market. Deloitte’s multi-generational workforce mirrors that demographic, with Millennials comprising more than 50 percent of our professionals. It is no secret that this generation has a new view on not only working, but on work itself. In fact, according to the fifth annual Millennial survey, many are planning near-term exits. This lack of employer allegiance represents a major talent challenge for business leaders.

It is important to note that many Millennials may already have one foot out the door. Specifically, a recent Deloitte survey showed that, among respondents, in a few years’ time, only 16 percent see themselves still employed at their current company. Plus, because Millennial is so widely defined (anyone born after 1982), even those in more senior positions (management, department lead, board member, etc.) expressed a desire to leave. This means that a significant amount of leaders, and future leaders, are headed towards the exit (or at the very least, thinking about it).

Yet, it’s not all bad news. Knowing that Millennials tend to be transient helps business leaders develop policies that can help retain them. Among the biggest reasons for Millennial job-hopping tends to be the lack of professional development opportunities. Millennials crave learning and training opportunities, particularly in leadership development. To bridge this gap, consider incorporating a mentorship program. Mentorship programs provide an opportunity for Millennials to turn to a more experienced professional for advice and can also provide them with a personal resource for leadership development. Our research shows just how effective mentorship programs are, from a talent retention perspective.

Those intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are far more likely to have a mentor (68 percent) than not (32 percent).

Millennials are also in search of organizations that have a purpose beyond profits; they are steered by their values at all stages in their careers. The good news is that, overall, Millennials believe businesses are behaving in an increasingly responsible manner. However, there is still much to be done, as these same respondents (54 percent) think that most businesses’ sole ambition is “making money.” It is important for business leaders to understand the values that Millennials see as important, whether that’s a work-life balance, dedication to customer care, or social responsibility, and incorporate these into the workplace culture. Demonstrate your willingness to put employees first, and take their opinions into consideration.

By knowing why Millennials may leave your organization, you will likely already be one step ahead when it comes time to retaining them. In summation, three key actions, on the part of business leaders, may help solve the Millennial talent crisis:

  • Identify, understand, and align with Millennials’ values, though not at the expense of the other generations in your workforce;
  • Make an effort to incorporate Millennials’ desires into the workplace (i.e., purpose beyond profit); and
  • Support Millennials’ desire for professional development opportunities and organizational purpose beyond profits

Rather than accepting their exits, or hastening them, it is important to empower Millennials, and in turn, retain them.


In the United States, Millennials represent the largest share of the labor market.

–A new understanding of Millennials: Generational differences reexamined.

The Deloitte Millennial survey 2016: Winning over the next generation of leaders

Read the 2016 Millennial survey to learn more about Millennials in the workforce.

Millennials, in general, express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s fifth annual Millennial survey. This remarkable absence of allegiance represents a serious challenge to any business employing a large number of Millennials, especially those in markets—like the United States—where Millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce. However, because most young professionals choose organizations that share their personal values, it’s not too late for employers to overcome this “loyalty challenge.” Deloitte surveyed nearly 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries during September and October 2015 to learn more about Millennials’ values and ambitions, drivers of job satisfaction, and their increasing representation in senior management teams.

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