Reducing the retention deficit

Small businesses have never had more options for finding new staff. But the effort of getting the right person can all be for nothing if they don’t stay long enough to make a significant impact.

The pandemic may have affected young people disproportionately when it comes to unemployment, but it is still true that millennials place a high value on professional advancement and that money – while important – is not their only motivation.

Young people want to be managed as individuals and appreciate having a personalised plan for developing both their skill base and their career. They tend to operate in the ‘here and now’ rather than the long term, so instant gratification and short term rewards are more motivational than long term job security.

Age appropriate

Millennials need to keep acquiring new skills and are willing to change jobs and move to employers who are more likely to keep up with change, or even help drive it. 

But older employees will also appreciate being managed as an individual, whether that means receiving targeted training or specific working arrangements. The immediate benefits expected by millennials are also valuable to members of staff nearing retirement as they may not be in employment long enough to reap the benefits of longer term rewards.

Where the older generation value stability and good benefits, the new generation desire constant engagement and opportunities to progress quickly. The trick is to change the conversation from ‘how long will you stay in this role’ to ‘what can we achieve together’.

Training targets

External or off-site training can be prohibitively expensive for start-up or early stage businesses, but money spent on training is generally well spent. As the business grows, external training can help increase employee retention since they feel that the company cares enough about them to make that investment.

Individuals will have their own objectives, personal strengths and weaknesses and it is important to bear this in mind when creating a training plan.

Whilst junior employees may feel that some of their senior colleagues’ work practices are out of date, the focus should be on skills that remain essential – relationship building, technical expertise and handling internal stakeholders.

Generation gain

For many people the working world has changed a great deal since they first entered employment. The assumption of long term job security and the expectation of being able to learn on the job have been eroded by the emergence of the gig economy.

However, experienced employees can still derive satisfaction from seeing someone develop as a result of their influence. Junior employees that are fortunate enough to have good relationships with more senior colleagues generally advance in their careers much faster than those who don’t. Senior colleagues can also help them develop their professional network.

A better understanding of the motivations of junior staff can also positively influence how an employer manages its staff profile, as more senior workers will generally have better access to the decision makers in the organisation.