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Now We Know What It Costs to Employ GenY… So What?

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When, oh when will everyone stop focusing on all the stats and surveys about Millennials and focus on more important things… like, say, how well we’re actually doing our jobs?

In yet another entry into the “here are some numbers about GenY!” category, Washington Post columnist Jena McGregor recently studied the results of a survey by Beyond.com on how much it costs to replace a Millennial employee.

The findings? Between $15,000 and $25,000.

The importance of these findings? Employers worry about Millennials’ job-hopping tendencies, and… well… that’s about it.

Numbers, numbers everywhere…

As the author herself admits:

The study does not compare and contrast replacement costs for millennials versus, say, baby boomers. It would have been more revealing if it had.

In other words, we’ve got more numbers on GenY, and little context with which to analyze them.

Every time a Millennial needs to be replaced, it costs between $15,000 and $25,000. Fair enough. But is that for positions where Baby Boomers are being paid $15,000 flat? In other words, are these young upstarts demanding more for doing the same work that older employees are doing? (They are quite entitled, you know.) Or would it cost $15,000 to $25,000 to replace anyone in these same positions?

The study’s key finding that’s supposed to shock us isn’t quite so shocking with nothing to compare it to.

As for companies’ main concern with having to replace Millennials? The article states that those ever-job-hopping GenYers tend to jump ship every two years—compared to five years for GenXers and seven for Baby Boomers—but what does that mean in the grand scheme of a company’s expenses? Workers who stick around longer are likely to demand things like raises after a while, while bringing in a fresh supply of Millennials every two years means you could theoretically keep that position at starting salary indefinitely.

I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but for a reason.

Let’s focus on what really matters

Instead of asking how much Millennials are costing employers, why don’t we take a look at how much they’re earning them?

Even if young workers are demanding a higher price in today’s job market, they also bring traits and skills to the office that older workers might not, including drive and passion, an innovative way of approaching stale problems, and increased efficiency and adaptability due to their oft-maligned tendency to always be “plugged in.” If we’re going to run a useful cost-benefit analysis, then let’s also consider the benefits.

You can do as many studies as you like on GenY, but when we’re talking about a company’s day-to-day bottom line, it comes down to one simple fact: Performance, skills and results are the only Millennial stats worth measuring.

All the rest? It’s just numbers.

Kelly Gurnett is Assistant Editor of Brazen Life and runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and hire her services as a blogger extraordinaire here.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.