Gen Z and Millennials Are The Hardest Employees To Retain — Here Are 5 Ways To Keep Them Around

Gen Z employee happy at work

Pexels / Fairygodboss Staff

Renae Murphy
Renae Murphy
April 14, 2024 at 9:0AM UTC

For the first time, the labor market includes five generations all together in one workplace. In this increasingly diverse, competitive, and fast-moving environment, it’s critical for companies to implement strategies that will motivate all the different generations of employees they have. 

As Gen Z and millennials now make up a larger portion of the workforce, employers need to change their people strategies to fit a fresh set of perspectives and priorities. Tactics used in the past may not be the ones that will keep today’s younger cohort engaged.

Here are five ways leaders should go about retaining their younger employees, while making sure everyone, regardless of age, enjoys their experience at work and has a chance to grow their skills. 

1. Prioritize development.

Younger employees don’t just see a job — they’re after experiences that will help them grow and evolve. They see an opportunity to grow and hone new skills, and they have a strong focus on their overall career development beyond their current role. Also, they often have a different way of learning, using technology and social media/networks more. 

Enabling people to easily connect with and learn from others, and from technology, is key. Companies should offer workshops, education, and challenging projects that will help employees learn and develop their skills, to inspire them to fulfill their potential at work. On the other hand, older generations might be seeking a phased retirement plan or want to slowly decrease their hours at work. Listen to what your people want. And if you don’t know, ask.

2. Lead with purpose.

We’re seeing employees ask for more than just a paycheck – they also want a sense of purpose and the chance to do good. All employees, especially younger people, need companies to have a strong purpose. Younger generations want to work for companies that align with their personal values. Employers should be thinking about their impact on the world and how to articulate this in a way that inspires and attracts talent. 

Consider how to approach your diversity, equity & inclusion practices and create a workspace where people can be their authentic selves. 

Gen Z and millennials also understand the power of giving back to the community because social causes are important to them. Companies need appropriate environmental, particularly sustainability, social and governance strategies because these are important for younger generations when choosing where to work. For example, many companies now give their people paid time off from work to support their local community and charitable causes. 

3. Start and maintain an open dialogue. 

Today’s younger workers want their input to be welcomed and appreciated — and this is a big part of what motivates them to perform well. And when they perform well, they need to know that their managers and employer appreciates the value of their contributions. 

Employers should try to keep the lines of communication open with people of all ages, especially their millennial and Gen-Z workers. Previous generations had fewer channels of communication available, meaning managers leaned on quarterly or yearly reviews, and only talked about performance and feedback at scheduled times via phone or email. The increased number of digital tools available for communication has powered a shift away from this today. More and more employers are using a range of collaboration tools in the workplace, to match their employees’ experiences at work, with those outside of work, where constant communication is the norm. 

4. Refresh your perks.

The original work perks most companies have offered for years, including health, vision, and dental insurance, are now considered table stakes – and they won’t act as retention tools for employees newer to the workforce. Younger people are looking for an employer who cares about them enough to help with other aspects of their lives. This could be pet or family healthcare plans, gym or wellbeing benefits, flexible hours and schedules, alongside newer options emerging like student loan paydowns or meal allowances. 

5. Support a balanced life.

While older generations tend to value a stable job and talk a lot about work-life balance, we’re seeing younger generations push back on the concept of work-life balance. As younger employees seek more than just a paycheck from work, they’re looking at their work as embedded in their lives, rather than separate. While this can come with benefits for employers, including a willingness to work longer and harder for causes that matter to them, it’s just as important for companies to take the lead on making sure employees have balanced lives. 

Investing in a balanced life for employees can be as simple as offering summer Fridays, mental health days or time for giving back to the community. Or, it might be explicitly telling managers that it’s ok to offer their team members half a day of here or there, following the delivery of a big project or particularly intense week. As we continue working from home, fully remote employers should also consider setting up workspaces where employees can meet so it’s easier for them to collaborate, socialize, ideate and be creative. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Renae is the Director of Colleague (Xplorer) Experience at Xplor Technologies and joined the company in September 2020 to lead our inclusion and diversity strategy. With a background of over 15 years in human resources and diversity initiatives, Renae is on a mission to help people and companies become the best version of themselves. Having advised several leaders and employees on cultivating an inclusive culture that unlocks human potential, she’s passionate about helping Xplor leverage the talents of diverse teams to drive engagement, innovation, and business results for sustainable competitive advantage. 

What’s your no. 1 reason for staying with your current employer — or what’s the no. 1 thing that would keep you engaged? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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