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Employers who do not take the time to properly communicate with Millennial employees will risk losing them to a more enticing opportunity Photo by Thinkstock
<p>Employers who do not take the time to properly communicate with Millennial employees will risk losing them to a more enticing opportunity. (Photo by Thinkstock.)</p>

Health Club Operators Face a Retention Challenge with Millennial Employees

Employers who do not take the time to properly communicate with Millennial employees will risk losing them to a more enticing opportunity.

Once dubbed the “me me me” generation by TIME Magazine, Millennials have been labeled as everything from lazy, entitled and narcissistic to brilliant, optimistic and entrepreneurial. This tech-savvy super generation of 80 million people born between 1980 and 2000 is invading the workforce and earning a new label for themselves: job-hoppers.

So are Milliennials the job-hopping, personal fulfillment-seeking technology wizards they have been made out to be? If so, what effects will this super generation have on their future employers?

Millennials spend less time in a single particular job than their Baby Boomer counterparts, according to a study by The study revealed the median duration a Millennial employee spends at a single job is two years, compared to seven years per job on average for an employee of the Baby Boomer generation. A survey conducted by PeopleMatter, a workforce management platform provider, reported the service industry experienced a 39 percent increase in turnover rates year over year from 2014 to 2015. 

Millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. If these trends continue, employee turnover rates could be more than triple those of years past. Higher turnover can mean more time and money invested in recruiting, hiring and training employees. These investments can quickly become a financial burden, particularly for a small business.

The Center for American Progress reports the cost of replacing an employee is typically one fifth of that employee’s salary. According to, the average health club manager makes $43,966 annually; which means the replacement cost of a health club manager is approximately $8,793.

“Millennials do seem to job hop more than other generations,” said Ashley Campbell, business development and training coordinator, Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. “It can be easier to get a salary boost when you start a new job, and Millennials move around more than older generations. They are willing to move away from family to travel, experience new cultures, seek out fun locations—like Portland—or break into burgeoning industries like tech or social impact.”

Millennials seem to understand that job-hopping can hurt future career prospects. A July 2015 study of 1,000 Millennial professionals by Recurtifi, a crowd-sourced talent acquisition platform, revealed 83 percent of respondents said they understand that job-hopping could negatively affect their career prospects, but 86 percent said they wouldn’t let that get in the way of pursuing their ideal position. This could indicate that Millennials are less concerned with career stability than they are with finding intrinsic gratification.

Mark Miller, CEO of Merritt Athletic Clubs, Baltimore, Maryland, said the Millennial generation represents an interesting mix of complex traits that employers need to understand and prepare for. He describes Millennials as ambitious and purpose-driven, but sometimes entitled.

“They are ambitious and want it now – some think they can do the job already or should be given it just because,” Miller says. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, and this is where, as leaders, we need to help them see the path.”

Miller advises employers to help Millennials feel that their voice is being heard within the company and to offer leadership by showing a clear path of advancement. Employers who do not take the time to properly communicate with Millennial employees will risk losing them to a more enticing opportunity.

As a part of the Millennial generation himself, Jarrod Saracco, health club consultant and owner of Health Club Doctor, Newark, Delaware, said the younger half of the Millennial generation suffers from being raised in a culture where everyone gets a trophy and a pat on the back just for showing up. But that doesn’t mean a good employer can’t motivate them to find a path to career fulfillment, he said

“They want to feel like they are making a difference and are part of a team,” Saracco said. “Part of the process is helping them become empowered to take some ownership, and that all comes down to having a good employee training program.”

At Portland State University Campus Recreation Center, Millennial employees are attracted to the work-life balance, flexible schedules and fun, relaxed workplace, Campbell said. Working with the students also provides the employees a sense of higher purpose that may make them feel more invested in the facility.

“There are financial expectations that come with being a government and higher education employee. Employees may not earn as much as their counterparts in the private sector, but we tend to make up for that in other areas,” Campbell said.

These types of intrinsic rewards could speak strongly to Millennials who feel the need for more validation and purpose.

“I believe they are attracted to jobs that have impact and align with a cause,” Miller said. “Fitness is great as it means helping people live healthy, fulfilling lives.  I believe if you teach them and show them a career path that meets their values and purpose in life [then] they stay. If not, then they job hop.”

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