HR & Management

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Employee retention: Is it possible?

5 Mins

Reasons for leaving

While Baby Boomers expected – and were often given – a job for life, Generation-Y has already entered the marketplace without any such expectations. Yet these workers often leave their job within three years when they could have stayed for longer. The classic reasons for leaving may still apply: feeling undervalued or under-supported, poor pay structures or issues with corporate culture; but if these things are underpinned by the expectation of moving on eventually, business owners may feel that there is little they can do about the situation.

The silver lining is visible, however. Despite the apparent inevitability of their leaving, there are ways that you can make the most of them while they’re there. Concentrating on a couple of key areas can not only make their time with you more productive, but they might even encourage them to stay longer.

What’s more, research shows that there are certain patterns within the week when dissatisfied employees look for work. Computeach’s hump day findings show us that Tuesday is the day when they make the most enquiries about new work. This is supported by web psychologist, Nathalie Nahai who agrees that ‘after a Monday slump workers perhaps have more resolve on a Tuesday’.

Therefore, employers that introduce one-to-one development sessions on a Tuesday could well offset the exodus with a little extra thought.

Give them room to grow

Generation-Y is young. They may not be looking for fast advancement in the usual promotion-based sense, but they’re focused on improving their employability. They know they’re going to be out there in the mid-term future, and they’re already trying to improve their chances. They’re used to people helping them develop and appreciating their value. They recognise that kind of environment (and they can also see when it isn’t there). If they don’t feel that they’re being nurtured for better things, more responsibility and improved opportunities, they are likely to look elsewhere for work much sooner.

Work-life balance

Work-life balance and the need to have time to themselves is crucial to their productivity. From introducing flexi-time, to allowing employees to break out when they need to (instead of having set times for breaks), increments of freedom are more likely to help retain them and their motivation, and will improve the quality of what you get out of them. Employees that want to come to work are usually better workers.

Technology issues

The younger crowd has never known a time when they couldn’t plug into a vast matrix of information and download whatever they needed. Many employers still let themselves down with doddery computers, printers that won’t connect properly, and fax machines still in daily use. The levels of frustration that this fosters shouldn’t be underestimated. On the other hand, the older generations are less likely to handle newer technologies with confidence. Getting the balance right – not overpowering the Baby Boomers, or underwhelming Generation-Y – can be key to retaining everyone that bit longer.

Connect the generations

Tuesday sessions can be creative and useful, incorporating information sharing, intergenerational knowledge transfer, management supervision and continuing professional development. Courses with little cost to the employer (especially given the wider picture), such as a government subsidised social media course for the older generations, can enable them to remain useful for longer, instead of just becoming redundant with age.

Employee retention isn’t always desirable, given that some workers aren’t as useful, or can be replaced by younger, more energetic blood, but in many cases it’s hard to make that call if the employer hasn’t pulled out all the stops to provide a working environment and HR style to get the most out of its workers.

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