08/15/2019 Molly Moseley

Millennials are seeking second careers: What HR pros should know about the trend

Whether due to boredom, burnout or disconnection to their work, it isn’t uncommon for people to pause and think about making a career change. Sometimes pondering if the grass is greener on the other side turns into action. In fact, mid-career transitions are fairly common for people in their 40s and 50s, but today a shift is happening where this desire for change is tugging at the hearts of much younger professionals.

The Bloomberg Businessweek article Millennials Are Already Itching to Switch Careers explores this trend, pointing out that many people pursue careers that their friends and family have when starting their professional lives, then throughout their 20s, they gain exposure to job possibilities while also learning more about their own talents and desires. This leads to a longing for change at a younger age, so much so that fewer than half of job seekers aged 34 and under expect to stay in the same industry long-term, according to a ZipRecruiter survey cited in the article.

This is not good news for human resource professionals who already face challenges in the current job-seekers market where younger generations are less likely to stay with a company long-term compared to older generations. Add to this the consideration that people might throw in the towel on the job and industry altogether, and it might seem like an HR mission impossible.

Despite this multi-tiered challenge, this doesn’t mean you’re fighting a losing battle. It’s worthwhile to better understand employees’ mindsets while striving to retain good workers, even if they are looking for a change. Here are three smart ideas for being proactive so you can avoid the numerous costs associated with losing workers due to career change dreams:

Analyze employee surveys

Distributing surveys regularly helps you keep a finger on the pulse of employee relations. This is a smart way to explore how people are feeling about their careers as well. Inquire about their desires to switch careers and whether they would be open to new opportunities at the company. Even anonymous surveys help you gauge how employees are feeling so you can create an action plan.

Create malleable career paths

Creating clear career paths so people know they can grow in their role boosts employee satisfaction and helps increase retention. However, it’s important to stress that there are options to make lateral moves and become educated in new roles to keep dedicated folks within the company. Managers are the best people to have this conversation and come up with a plan that incorporates new projects that allow employees to grow and explore various interests.

Develop an alumni program

Despite your best efforts, you will lose employees who want to explore different career paths. It’s important to not take this personally and certainly not burn any bridges. Smart companies have alumni programs to keep in touch with and engage former employees. These programs are also a good way to incentivize high-quality former employees to come back. And when they do, they often bring fresh and valuable perspectives.

This growing trend certainly presents a new challenge for HR professionals who are already struggling to retain top talent. The key is to stay informed, be agile in your employee offerings and keep your candidate pipeline open to current and former employees looking to make career adjustments.