Attracting and Retaining the Next Generation of Employees

I think it’s safe to say that over the past 5 years or so, our beloved generation X and Y’ers have generated a fair amount of discussion across most sectors.  Often receiving mixed reviews, they are renowned for being determined, task orientated, frivolous, and money hungry.  Unfortunately, they’re also known for short tenures.  On top of this issue, we are also faced with the issue of the Baby Boomer Generation approaching retirement and often taking with them decade’s worth of company knowledge. 

From here, the questions businesses are ultimately faced with are:

  • What are Generation X and Y really looking for in a role?
  • How do we attract and retain younger generation workers?
  •  How can we minimise the loss of company knowledge?

By and large Generation X and Y are devoted and career driven, however don’t tend to feel a strong sense affinity to any one company.  They instead appear driven by the more individualistic desire to build their own professional profile and marketability.  Many also argue that they have a strong desire to utilize a variety of technological devices at work and place a strong emphasis on socialising.  As employers there are multitudes of ways in which we can accommodate these generational desires and adjust our succession planning to meet these requirements. 

It is important that transparent career progression plans are in place, employees are offered a range of professional experiences and are provided with the opportunity to intellectually stretch themselves and grow their industry profile.  And of course, it goes without saying that the extent to which these are utilized depends largely on individual differences.  It is also important to gauge from the outset what sort of career progression a candidate is after, so that plans can be clearly laid out from day one.

It also goes without saying that when employees retire or move on it is not only a hit to the company’s bottom line, but also a loss to the company’s strategic resources.  This said, it is imperative that mechanisms are put in place to ensure that knowledge is openly and effectively shared between employees.  As well as ensuring that knowledge is kept in the business, it has been suggested that this can be useful for retention.  By establishing a knowledge sharing culture, younger generations are engaged in learning from senior employees and, in turn, by imparting their knowledge to junior employees, senior employee’s engagement is increased. It has been suggested that knowledge transfer can be achieved through induction, counselling, employee rotation, training and development and group learning. 

Through providing younger generations with transparent career progression, a range of professional experiences within an organisation, and ensuring mechanisms are put in place for knowledge to be shared across generations, it seems that we may be able to increase the tenure of Generation X and Y and reduce the loss of knowledge with Baby Boomers leaving the workforce. 

So what is your organisation currently doing to attract and retain generation X and Y employees?

What could your organisation do to increase the sharing of knowledge from between generations?

Hokanson, C., Sosa-Fey, J., and Vinaja, R. (2011) Mitigating the loss of knowledge resulting from the attrition of younger generation employees. International Journal of Business and Public Administration, Volume 8, Number 2, 138 -151.


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