What it costs to replace a twenty-something


Mike Shapiro/For Capital Business

Oh, those pesky millennials. They're been called entitled, lazy and over-confident. They seem to put social media right up there with food, water and shelter. They have--gasp--tattoos and piercings and sleep with their cell phones. Oh my!

And now, it turns out, they're also quite costly to replace on the job. In a new survey of 233 HR professionals, 87 percent reported that it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each millennial employee they lose. The survey was conducted by the career Web site Beyond.com and a branding firm that works on millennial issues.

With millennials projected to make up 36 percent of the workforce in 2014 and 46 percent by 2020, that's a lot of money employers could end up spending on a group of employees who--at least at this stage in their lives--like to jump ship fairly often. Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, one of the survey's co-sponsors, cites a prior survey that has shown that while Gen Xers change jobs every five years and baby boomers change them every seven years, millennials have an average tenure of just two years.

The study does not compare and contrast replacement costs for millennials versus, say, baby boomers. It would have been more revealing if it had. It does, however, offer us one interesting tidbit on how this much-studied generation may be more like their elders than we think. For all the focus on millennials demanding flexibility and freedom in their jobs, only 9 percent of respondents said that's the top reason younger workers head for the exits. Like probably everyone else, the top reason they leave is they got a better offer from another company.

Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.

Read also:

Joel Stein is wrong about millennials, in one chart

How those spoiled millennials will make the workplace better for everyone

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.
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Jena McGregor · August 5, 2013