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December 2, 2021

3 Ways To Retain Gen Z And Millennials

4 min read
By Kelly Bryan

A recent survey has found that a staggering 74% of Gen Z (18-24 year olds) are hoping to be in new work within 12 months, with half of those having already reached out to recruiters.

But why are Gen Z and Millennials fuelling the Great Resignation? Experts cite a variety of reasons ranging from hybrid working (40% would leave their job altogether if it meant WFH permanently), poor work-life balance, lack up upward mobility/skills opportunities, and a broader search for purpose after a continuously “unprecedented” two years.

Attrition rates are vital to people leaders. But more important than the numbers, perhaps, are the ways in which we can meaningfully support these demographics to stay engaged and motivated in their work. Human-centered issues require human-centered solutions, so here are three people-focused ways that can help you retain your Gen Z and Millennial workforce:

1. Be a good captain

Your leaders’ people management skills are essential to keep retention high: Gallup’s 2021 Global Workforce Report found that it takes more than a 20% pay raise to persuade an employee with a leader who actively engages them to leave, versus a raise of next to nothing to lure a disengaged worker.

In the midst of a tumultuous few years of delayed return-to-office plans, seemingly endless Covid strains, and recruiting frenzies, it’s natural that your people leaders will be feeling uncertain. To swim against the current, you must look to those who are leading your Early Talent and assess whether they are equipped with the right skills to help keep your Early Talent engaged. If they aren’t, consider targeted training and upskilling.

How can you better equip your people leaders to care, engage, and motivate your Early Talent to stay?

2. Throw the ‘9-5’ overboard

COVID-19 has changed how many of us work, but it’s also been a wake-up call to embrace a change in how we work. Many organisations aren’t heeding the wake-up call. For example, the Office of National Statistics reported that 81% of people working in Information and Communication worked from home, but only 49% of those businesses were going to increase home working in the future.

The key is providing young talent with flexibility and autonomy. A survey conducted by Adobe found that 66% of Gen Z workers are more likely to switch jobs to have control over their schedule, and a further 63% would move roles for the option to work remotely. The same study found that a quarter of Gen Z participants are most productive after typical office hours, more so than any other generation.

Failing to adjust to new expectations of flexible working could put your Early Talent at risk of getting swept away in the tide of other remote opportunities available to them. If working from home is possible at your organisation, how can you provide your Early Talent the option for more ownership of their time?

3. Let them chart the ship’s course

To enable individuals to find what they love about their current role, it’s crucial to grant some purpose and ownership into where they’re headed in their careers. A study by Adobe found that 53% of people at large companies would like to spend more time at work on their passions. Many are resigning from their jobs to pursue their passions as their career. Why? Being able to choose what you do with your time gives a better sense of ownership, and by extension, motivation.

A number of organisations are increasingly allocating their people’s time to self-guided projects. For example, Google allocates 20% of its people’s time to be working on what they think will most benefit Google. They’ve found creativity and innovation within their people and teams boosted as a result.

While 20% of a person’s time may be too much to sacrifice at every organisation, how can you can re-engage your Early Talent by implementing ways to increase their sense of purpose in the business?

Young people are entering a fast-changing world of work. Over just the last 18 months, decades-old attitudes to working from home have shifted and quality of life is being re-assessed. Alongside our 3 suggested tips, remember that your Early Talent are the true experts of their own needs. Giving them a voice in shaping the working cultures and environments that they will one day lead is the single best way to keep them engaged.


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