IT Managers Need To Decide: Should Their Millennials Stay Or Go?

How long will Millennials stay a part of your team?
How long will Millennials stay a part of your team?
Image Credit: Erin Nekervis

Hey IT manager, I bet that you didn’t realize just exactly how big the group of millennials who are working for your company had gotten! It turns out that 18-34 year olds make up 34% of the U.S. job market – the biggest group out there. Next comes the Gen-Xers who make up 32% and finally the Baby Boomers are still out there and they make up 31%. What this means for you as an IT manager is that you are going to have to get better at managing millennials because there are more of them…

Maybe You Can’t Prevent Them From Leaving

So here’s a wild idea for you to consider: is it possible that all of the millennials that are working on your team will eventually end up leaving? How long do these people generally hang around? It turns out that last year, the median job tenure for IT workers who were between 20 and 24 was less than 16 months! Compare this to workers who are between 25 to 34 it was only 3 years. All of these numbers are less than the 5.5 year median for workers 25 and above.

If you want to hang on to your millennials just a bit longer, then you are going to have to take steps to make them want to stay. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this. One of the most important is to strengthen networking opportunities for your millennials. Provide work related events where both younger and senior workers are provided with an opportunity to mix and mingle.

There are other things that can also be done to make your team a place where millennials will want to stay. An obvious one is to relax your dress code. I mean really, does it matter what your team wears to work as long as all of the important parts are covered up? Another thing that you can do is to create councils of millennials to allow them to have input to how the team is being run.

How To Manage Millennials Who Will Eventually Leave You

No IT manager wants to face the fact that a third of his or her team may end up leaving in the near future. However, trying to get millennials to stay may be a losing game. If they are going to go, then they will go no matter what you do. Perhaps a better idea is to understand that they’ll be taking off and start to plan for it.

If you start out with an expectation that you millennial employees will be leaving, then you can do things differently. One approach is to segment a millennial employee’s career with the company into so-called “tours of duty”. For each one of these, both the IT manager and the millennial employee have to agree on what the goals of the tour are. When the tour is up, both parties need to understand that this might be a good time for the millennial to leave.

The good news out of all of this is that simply by talking openly about the possibility that your millennial employee might leave often causes them to end up staying. Your goal as an IT manager needs to be to let your employee know that if it makes more sense for them to leave instead of staying, then that’s ok with you. Try to communicate to your millennial employees that being a part of your team is really a career accelerator and that they will benefit from the time that they spend with you.

What All Of This Means For You

In today’s IT workplace, IT managers are faced with a number of management challenges. One of the biggest is the simple fact that their largest group of workers are the millennials. Their career plans may not line up with what you are trying to accomplish with your team.

Millennials don’t generally plan on staying with one firm for very long. They don’t view any one job as being a lifetime of employment. This means that they will undoubtedly move on probably sooner rather than later. As an IT manager you need to accept this reality and you need to provide your millennial workers with clear opportunities to leave when it works best with your schedule.

Trying to retain workers who don’t want to stay is probably one of the biggest mistakes that an IT manager can make. Instead, we need to deal with the situation that we’ve been placed in and find ways to maximize the value of the employees that are members of our team right now.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What would be the best way to let millennials know that if they want to leave, now would be a good time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just exactly how secure do you feel in your job? Do you believe that you are using your IT manager skills to bring value to your employer? Most importantly – could they get along without you? I’d be willing to bet that most of us think that our IT manager training allows us to bring value to the table. However, over at the well-respected online giant Zappos, they just get rid of everybody who looks like you and me. Big mistake or a sign of things to come?