It's no secret that millennial employees have been throwing companies for a loop in recent years. Not a week goes by when there isn't a news article about how millennials can't seem to stay at a job for more than two years.

A lot of the conversation around this has been centered on getting millennials to break their generational habits, but seeing as how that's not working, maybe it's time to start trying to understand this generation instead.

Millennials are already planning on leaving you.

Earlier this year, Deloitte published their 2016 millennial survey where they found two-thirds of millennials expressed a desire to leave their current organization by 2020. This isn't just an American phenomenon either. Deloitte surveyed 29 different countries and the results were all similar.

This begs the question - What gives? More importantly, how can companies do a better job or retaining millennial employees?

Millennials want more responsibility.

As a millennial personal finance and business blogger, I have a lot of conversations with my peers on a weekly basis. When I surveyed my blog readers in 2015, an astounding 81 percent of respondents said they wanted me to create more content about how they could quit their jobs and run their own businesses.

This seems to coincide with a survey conducted by Bentley University where 67% of millennials surveyed said they wanted to start their own businesses. Only 13% were even remotely interested in the corner office.

The good news is organizations can use this information to engage the millennials within their organization. Companies can find ways for millennials to partake in intrapreneurship. This is the term used to describe the act of acting like an entrepreneur while remaining within an organization.

"Millennials are looking for companies where they can have a part in solving problems that matter to them and to society at large," says Martina Mangelsdorf, founder of GAIA Insights, a boutique firm specialized in helping corporations retain and engage millennial employees. "Give them a safe space to innovate and the autonomy to implement their ideas."

Millennials feel like their skills aren't being used.

"Forty-nine percent of millennials feel that they are being overlooked for potential leadership positions and 63 percent say their leadership skills are not being fully developed," says Mangelsdorf.

She adds that companies should consider leveraging the talent they already have in their millennial staff instead of hiring outside consultants to help fix their problems. This can save a company money while they retain employees.

Millennials want flexibility.

"Technology and flexibility play a key role in Millennial retention. They want a job that fits their lifestyle and not the other way around," says Mangelsdorf.

The fear is that if millennials telecommute that they won't actually work. Mangelsdorf says this actually isn't true. In fact, most of them expect their productivity to increase when they have the flexibility to work from anywhere.

Some evidence suggests she may be right. Project Time Off has found that millennials actually work quite a lot precisely because they can fire up their WiFi connection at all hours of the day.

Final Thoughts

While millennials may be frustrating for employers, the reality is companies are going to need to learn how to work with them. Do millennials have some bad traits? Sure. But it seems like what they want from a job - more responsibility, to actually use the skills they possess, and the ability to work from anywhere - could actually benefit employers in the long run.

Published on: Aug 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.