How to Retain Young Employees
Retaining high performers is likely one of your biggest goals – and concurrently one of your biggest challenges – as a business owner. With many boomers retiring in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit the United States in 2020, millennials are being promoted into positions of power and are filling jobs formerly occupied by the generation known as Baby Boomers. The pandemic brought about what is now popularly referred to as the ‘Great Resignation.’ Rather than be left in the cold with a shrinking workforce, many employers are educating themselves on how to retain young employees.
The Power of Young Employees
One of the biggest myths perpetuated in media and society is that millennials do not have a strong work ethic. During the pandemic, the work ethic of millennials was tried and tested. Media blew up with reports of a ‘Great Resignation,’ in which millennial workers quit their jobs in search of more meaningful work that would compensate better. But the pandemic also brought front and center the fact that young employees are not entitled beyond reason and are in fact valuable assets to their companies! Young workers all over the world mobilized to work the frontline as well as occupy positions that allowed them to work safely from home.
In these cases, many workers adapted easily to the sudden change in work culture and environment. Working remotely seemed a natural and much-prized transition for many of the millennial workers who were able to do so. Already adept at technology and virtual communications, these employees thrived in a new way. And that is not just a matter of opinion, many companies monitored productivity and found that it actually increased when their workers were sent home to work remotely during the pandemic.
It is true that many baby boomers seemed to have something akin to company loyalty and were apt to stay with a company for many years; it was not uncommon or unheard of for an employee of this generation to serve at a company for the entire duration of their working years. This particular way of working has evolved over the years. Companies are now faced with higher turnover and are finding that they need to step it up in order to retain their high-performing employees over time.
In today’s world, it is not uncommon for employees to move from company to company across industries, and even to change fields entirely throughout the course of their careers. In fact, we no longer think of the word ‘career’ as meaning a tenure in a specific industry, but rather it refers to more of a time that may span one, two, or more fields. So rather than being field-or occupation-specific, a career is worker-centered and has more to do with an individual’s accomplishments throughout their working years.
Understanding the evolution of the workforce is imperative for any company interested in learning how to retain young employees.
The term millennial is used to describe those born in the 80s and early-to-mid-90s. Despite the difficulties of finding work in the Great Recession, and eking out a living, millennials adapted and persevered. Many entered college to earn their bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree. For some, technical training and apprenticeships were the answer. The result is that millennials make up a workforce that is determined to succeed and at the same time has conceived a new definition for success. Understanding this may be the key to retaining high performers within your business.
Understanding Younger Employees – WIthout Underestimating Them
So what makes a generation tick and how can you retain young employees in your workforce?
In truth, the strategies for retaining high performers, including young employees, may seem very simple. First and foremost, young workers and high performers (often one and the same) respond well to challenges. When you have a talented group, put that talent to use – or risk losing it to the competition.
Values and culture have changed in the last several decades. It may seem like it snuck upon us, but the shifting of priorities and values within a culture is completely normal and natural. A younger generation has different values and it has become more and more evident that workers want to engage in jobs that align with their values.
Millennial workers are driven by the impact of their work on society at large. Many will want to see the direct impact of their work to ensure that they are doing something worthwhile. When younger workers feel a connection to their work and their skills are utilized to that end they feel most fulfilled.
Another thing we have learned is that flexibility in the workplace goes a long way in retaining high performers. When workers are able to balance their personal lives and their business or professional lives they are more likely to stay happy on the job. During the pandemic, we learned that many jobs can be performed remotely, or at least in a hybrid environment. Workplaces that take full advantage of remote and hybrid opportunities are more likely to bring young talented employees on board and more likely to keep them happy for years to come.
Engage, recruit, and retain young employees. They are the future of your organization. Learn more at AMB Performance Group.