Gen Y retention dilemma: HR problem of the decade?

by Human Capital28 Jun 2012

The future of management is accompanied with a big question mark, according to some of Australia’s top CEOs. The simple reason is because Gen Y won’t stick around long enough to gain a holistic understanding of an organisation’s business operations.

Simply hanging on to the social-media generation is quickly becoming one of the foremost concerns for HR and senior management alike. According to the CEO Institute, this phenomenon has severe down-the-track ramifications for management succession. “Despite what CEOs perceive as reasonably high unemployment, their belief is the millennium generation [doesn’t] stay around for long; that they’re looking to expand their experiences. However, this short-term commitment doesn’t allow Gen Ys to get a full, holistic understanding of any business which has down-the-track ramifications for management succession,” a spokesperson from the CEO Institute said.

Barry Westhorpe from the CEO Institute added that appealing to Gen Y's sense of technology, and giving them realistic and practical information would help retain these young workers. “Younger workers bring fresh perspectives to organisations and embracing their values was essential to keep them,” Westhorpe said. “Truth and sincerity is very important to Gen Y and they don't like hype or clichés,” he added.

As a generation, many millennials are cautious of being ‘trapped’ in an organisation, US-based strategy and change management consultant Whit Tice said. In his paper, Leading Generation Y: A mindful approach to retaining employees, Tice said that when Gen Yers look for long-term employment, they’re picky and knowledgeable about what they want, and it’s no short list. Flexible working arrangements, positive culture, opportunities for growth and up-to-the-minute technology were just a few.

Indeed a 2008 study by AGL found that for Gen Y, leaders must show support by taking on some of the workload, form a positive and encouraging relationship with employees, trust and empower employees, provide professional growth opportunities, and frequently give feedback. It concluded that the relationship with leaders, meaning supervisors and managers of employees, is by far the most significant aspect with approximately 80% of the interviewees remarking on and stressing that theme’s importance. In short, it is the leaders who play a critical role in job satisfaction and the retention of Gen Y.


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  • by Erica Collins 28/06/2012 3:37:57 PM

    Engaging Gen Y employees successfully is also important when they represent a segment of your customer base.

  • by Matthew Clifford 29/06/2012 8:30:35 AM

    This is an important point, as much as Gen Y looks for fast-paced career development and advancement that comes with moving between employers is a confusing and cautionary tale to employers to review resumes thoroughly when looking for future leader potential.

    Longevity in a candidates career history can be a great indicator of loyalty and commitment, but it could also be that the employee is stagnant in their career, whether that be by choice or due to capability. All should weigh in on good indicators of future success and retention.

  • by Helen 3/07/2012 2:54:38 PM

    I read this with interest as gen y might be known as the job hoppers but should we be also questioning how secure jobs are ? With wide spread re structuring/ retrenchment its a no wonder loyalty is being lost? It does go both ways?

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