Retaining Younger Workers: How Will Gen Z Change the Millennial Workplace?

By Sara Pollock

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Millennials are three times more likely to leave their jobs than their counterparts in earlier generations, and as Generation Z begins to enter the workforce, many companies are wondering if they might follow a similar trend. In anticipation of the younger set, it’s helpful to examine the factors that have influenced Millennial behaviors and figure out how we can learn from one generation to improve retention rates amongst the next.

Why do Millennials Leave?

Most important to fixing the problem, is understanding its cause. What pushes Millennials to leave their job? Each generation has a unique set of priorities and problems in the workplace, and eliminating the problem right at the source is an effective way to reduce the rate of turnover. By working toward a solution for common Millennial conflict, you might learn how to approach Gen Z, too.

Feeling Unengaged

Only about 29% of Millennials report being engaged at work. Millennials want to feel like they’re contributing to the company and working towards something that aligns with their personal interests more so than past generations. It’s not that they expect more, they just want to feel like what they’re doing is worthwhile or meaningful to them. If your organization doesn’t appeal to them, they’ll continue looking for one that does. The result is that it’s easy to attract Millennial workers with the right language, but it’s much harder to get them to stick around.

Burn Out

Millennials face a unique situation in today’s workforce — burn out. With higher living expenses, greater amounts of debt, the pervasiveness of technology, and increased expectations from employers and clients, 28% of Millennial workers report experiencing burn out at some point in their careers. That’s a 7% increase from older generations, and early signs are showing that it’s something Gen Z isn’t going to tolerate. The younger generations have witnessed the effects of burn out on their Millennial counterparts, and they’re prioritizing a much more equal work-life balance.

Inadequate Feedback

An important piece of the puzzle that’s missing for your younger employees is regular feedback. Simply relying on your annual performance reviews isn’t an effective way to foster talent, solve problems, or generate innovative ideas. Millennials like to move forward quickly and make changes along the way. And when technology and trends move as fast as they do, it’s frustrating to operate at a pace much slower than your surroundings. Feedback is key to momentum, and the pace is only increasing over time. Gen Z, especially, wants to have a close relationship with their manager. Almost 70% of Gen Z believe skill sets are changing more rapidly in the workplace than ever before, and they’re leaning on their managers for support in their early careers so they can bridge the gap.

What do Millennials Want?

So, if they aren’t happy where they are, what exactly is it that Millennials are looking for at their next job? Here are a few ways you can attract young employees to your organization:

Higher wages: Millennials are paid 20% lower than their Boomer counterparts but are straddled with exponentially higher student loan debt. They’re scouring the market looking for better pay that matches their value and can pay off their bills.

Better career advancement opportunities: A lot of Millennials feel stuck in their role with nowhere to go. Growth and professional development are extremely important to this generation, and they won’t hesitate to find it elsewhere if there isn’t an opportunity where they currently are.

Relocation incentives: The cost of living in US cities compared to median income is wildly disproportionate, and as Millennials begin to start families and look to purchase homes, they’re interested in moving to places where they can get more bang for their buck. According to ZipRecruiter, affordable midwestern cities like Des Moines, Minneapolis, and Omaha are the most searched cities for jobs in 2019.

Make it challenging: Millennials aren’t satisfied with redundancy. They want to constantly learn, grow, and accomplish things. If they’re doing the same thing day in and day out, they’ll disengage. Offer them exciting challenges to overcome and complex issues to solve and they’ll flock to your organization.

So far, Gen Z demonstrates similar priorities, but they’re pushing it further. They want workplaces with robust training programs and ample learning opportunities. They expect a diverse and inclusive workplace that breeds productivity and innovation with a strong sense of purpose or identity. And perhaps, most uniquely, Gen Z looks for close-knit teams and meaningful connections with their colleagues. They’re the first generation who grew up entrenched in technology, and while they understand it to be a powerful tool, they want to know there’s still a human element to what they do.

Onboarding Can Improve Retention

One in four employees will leave a job within the first three months, so a stellar onboarding program should move quickly and easily through the tedious parts of starting a new job and transition them to more productive, meaningful work. It’s also crucial for your younger employees to have training on organizational culture and core values so they can get a better understanding of their purpose early on.

By introducing your new hires to team members in advance and including them in team-building exercises, they develop their social connections faster, which makes them feel more integrated and valued as a team member. When you pair that with company jargon, humor, vision, and core values, you can engage them faster and earlier than if you wait until their onboarding is completed.

Each generation presents their own priorities and trends that organizations will need to accommodate to keep their talent pool full. By understanding Millennial needs and examining the unique experience of subsequent generations, you can create a smooth transition that uses lessons from the past to inform the future.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible. ClearCompany offer ClearText which will help recruiters get their message across easily and connect with your candidates conveniently, capturing text conversations on the candidate’s profile for a comprehensive view to help your recruiters find the best-qualified candidates.

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