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Retaining new hires a challenge

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Sam Kuehl (right), a workforce development specialist from DEED, speaks with an attendee after his presentation at Alexandria Technical and Community College on data from a survey given to unemployed Minnesotans. (Rachel Kubik / Echo Press)
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One out of every three new hires are going to leave their job within the first year, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Two representatives from the state agency have ideas on how to change that, and they shared that information Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Alexandria Technical and Community College during a regional summit for employers that focused on engaging and retaining employees.

Chet Bodin, a DEED workforce strategy consultant, provided a framework to the data that was presented. Millennials – which he defined as 18-34 year olds – make up 21.4% of west-central Minnesota’s workforce and 22.8% of the workforce statewide. He said that 83.1% of millennials participate in the labor force of west-central Minnesota, with the state figure at 84.5%. Bodin explained the lower labor force participation rate was due to the state having rural areas.

West-central Minnesota has a job unemployment rate of 2.3%, slightly lower than the state rate of 2.5% as of September 2019.

Sam Kuehl, a workforce development specialist from DEED, works with job seekers every day. Not one single entity can solve the workforce shortage problem, but knowing what job seekers are looking for can help, he said.


Because of the large number of new hires who leave their job in their first year, conducting an exit interview is important to see why those employees are leaving, Kuehl said. Employee feedback should be solicited.

Bodin said it is important to keep in mind that people move for non-job purposes; it’s not always the employer’s fault. For example, it can be difficult for newcomers to the Alexandria area who are from the Twin Cities to adjust to a smaller-town atmosphere. Thus, keeping the newcomers as employees may be difficult because they tend to move back to city life.

Employees also might quit because of poor management, Kuehl said.

“If you keep seeing people leaving your revolving door of employment, maybe it’s because of someone in there,” he said. “People leave bad managers, they don’t leave good jobs.”

One point of contention may be when managers feel threatened by having employees older than them with more experience, and that makes for a power struggle situation, he said.

He said millennials are particularly focused on themselves and their own safety, so receiving little or poor job training after being hired is another reason employees may resign, Kuehl said.

“I speak from experience; I’m a millennial,” he said. “I want to better my life. I don’t want to kill myself bettering your company.”

Other reasons for leaving include the employee earning a lower wage than what was promised by the employer, not receiving good benefits and not having a flexible work schedule. When employees have the ability to work from home one day a month, that changes their perspective, Kuehl said. A survey distributed to unemployed people showed the same amount of millennials and baby boomers wanted flexible work schedules.


One of the biggest things millennials enjoy is a favorable work culture because they want an enjoyable career.

Related Topics: WORKPLACE
Rachel Kubik is the education beat reporter for the Echo Press, but you will find her covering multiple other topics. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and writing-intensive English from Marquette University. Besides writing, she loves art and music and tries staying active. As a Chicago native, you will never catch her cheering for any Minnesota teams (sorry not sorry).
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