This happens quite commonly, especially in smaller organisations (typically less than 100 people). Even more familiar with employees below 30 years of age.
My guess is this is not a phenomenon unique (or confined) to small organisations. Chances are this happens across the board irrespective of organisation size or industry. If there is one common denominator, it could be the employees’ age group.
We grow up in a different generation and career perspectives. By we, I mean people above 40 years of age, who most probably dominate the lower management and above in most organisations in any given workforce.
The work era that we come from associates job satisfaction with staying put. If you like your job, you will stay. If you are happy with your job, you would not think about looking for a different position.
That’s why attrition is generally associated with negativity. Higher attrition rate implies the organisation does not take care of its staff.
Or does it?
What if the ones who leave an organisation are the ones who have stayed on for a two to four-year period and known as good employees? What if there were nothing to indicate they would be leaving?
And, in the exit interview, they expressed happiness and ruled out any dissatisfaction.
They sent you warm farewell messages about how good an organisation and rewarding it had been.
So why did they decide to leave?
It is increasingly apparent (at least to me) that millennials’ perspective of career mobility is that of 4G, while ours is still stuck at the dial-up.
Millennials feel that everything must move fast, and everything must come with a lot of options. Just like they can friend and unfriend people on social media with a tap, millennials no longer identify longevity at one workplace as a positive thing.
An opportunity at an organisation is an opportunity to build a good resume that can regularly attract job offers. They shop for a job opening every day.
So, when they decide to move on in spite of the investment your organisation has made to get them more marketable, it is nothing personal – they like you and your organisation, it is just that another organisation can pay better.
How should you react to this?
Don't take it personally
Well, you should not be personal too.
Employers need to calibrate our expectation and accept that the concept of reciprocity no longer exists. Whatever your worldview is, you should not be personal because we live in a very impersonal age.
Employers should be as driven by utility objective as the millennials.
Investment in employees development makes business sense because competent workforce brings higher profitability and value to your organisation. It has nothing to do with employee retention anymore.
My guess is this: those organisations which are brutally objective and impersonal about attrition will be able to extract better values and capitalise better talents from the impersonal millennials workforce.
Start being impersonal with work