What will stop Generation Z, millennials, from quitting, according to Microsoft?

Wondering how to prevent employees from joining the Great Resignation? Higher wages and office benefits may no longer be enough.

Young employees are looking for growth within the company and the freedom to be entrepreneurs – outside of their day job.

That’s according to Microsoft’s latest report, which surveyed 20,000 employees from 11 countries.

Organizations and business leaders need to think about using learning as a lever for retention. Because when people learn and grow, let’s face it, they stay.

Colette Stallbaumer

GM, Microsoft 365 and Future of Work

Earlier this year, Microsoft found that 52% of the young people surveyed, namely Generation Z and millennials, said they would likely consider switching employers this year.

But for companies looking to retain these employees, all hope is not lost.

According to Microsoft, 73% of Gen Z and Millennials said they would stay longer at work if it was easier to switch roles internally.

Younger employees are also more likely to stay if their company gives them the flexibility to pursue “side hustles” or businesses for additional income, according to Microsoft.

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Microsoft defines Gen Z as those who are between the ages of 18 and 26, and Millennials as those between the ages of 27 and 41.

“With the Great Reshuffle, companies have tried to hold on to the people they have,” Colette Stallbaumer, the general manager for Microsoft 365 and “future of work,” told CNBC Make It in a virtual interview.

The Great Resignation – also known as the ‘Great Reshuffle’ – refers to the exodus of workers during the pandemic. Workers left their jobs for higher pay or for what they considered greener pastures.

“Now we see a bit of a settlement [down]but it’s still a very tight labor market,” Stallbaumer added.

‘Learning requires leaving’

One of the reasons employees change jobs is that they believe that “learning requires you to leave,” according to the Microsoft report.

The survey found that 55% of respondents change companies because they believe it is the “best way” to develop their skills.

“Organizations and business leaders need to think about using learning as a lever for retention. Because if people learn and grow, let’s face it, they stay,” Stallbaumer says.

Two out of three employees indicated they were willing [they were willing] to stay if it would be easier to step sideways into a role that offers new skills.

How do you help people think about internal mobility… [to be] more like a career playground, rather than a career ladder you just climb up?

Colette Stallbaumer

GM, Microsoft 365 and Future of Work

Specifically, 73% of Gen Z and millennials said they would, compared to 65% of Gen X (aged 42 to 55).

According to LinkedIn, opportunities to learn and grow were also seen as the No. 1 driver of a great work culture in 2022, compared to 2019, when it was ranked No. 9.

According to Stallbaumer, during the pandemic, workforce growth was “deprived” as companies focused on “attempts to keep doors open.”

“If you think about the experience we’ve all had together over the past few years, there’s no doubt that people are working more,” she added.

According to Microsoft, younger generations are most likely to want to be their own boss — 76% of Gen Z and millennials said that’s a goal, compared to 63% of those who are Gen X and older.

Carol Yepes | moment | Getty Images

“Now is the time… for organizations to really stop, pause and think about how they help people grow and learn new skills?”

That requires a mindset shift for companies — to start thinking about the internal workforce as a marketplace, Stallbaumer added.

“How do you help people think about internal mobility… [to be] more like a career playground, rather than a career ladder you just climb up?”

Make way for ambitions

The pandemic has also changed what workers want from work and life, Stallbaumer said.

“We’ve seen their values ​​change, we’ve seen people prioritize well-being and purpose… and how work fits into their lives.”

According to Stallbaumer, this is why younger workers are increasingly pursuing aspirations outside of work, such as side hustles, the maker economy, and entrepreneurship.

[Flexibility is] however, whenever and wherever you work. It really gives people the opportunity to do their job in a way that works for them, while making an impact for the organization.

Colette Stallbaumer

GM, Microsoft 365 and Future of Work

Microsoft’s report found that younger generations are most likely to become their own boss – 76% of Gen Z and millennials said this is a goal, compared to 63% of those who are Gen X and older.

Therefore, flexibility remains an important consideration for young workers.

Of the Gen Z and millennial employees surveyed, 77% said they are more likely to stay in their current jobs if they are given the flexibility to pursue side projects for additional income, according to Microsoft.

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