Greener grass syndrome – retaining young talent

Following a number of conversations with agency owners and tech companies, where the subject of junior staff retention came up repeatedly, I took to LinkedIn with the following post:

I really appreciate the comments and wanted to pull out the ones which stood out the most.

While the post was primarily focussed on lower retention rates in first jobbers,  the topic “millennials” raised its head quickly, along with more generic views on staff retention. However, here are the key themes I took away:

Involvement in decision making and flatter structures – I was fascinated by Jeremy’s feedback around younger employees wanting more input in the decision making in the business. I can certainly relate to this point and it is a difficult thing for company owners to adapt to since they expect to be able to call all the shots. Jeremy proposes that a flatter structure can help younger employees feel more integrated with a business, and I also believe there is a need to over-communicate internally these days.

Be clear about career development –  Natasha commented that employers should provide longer-term career plans (one to three years) to show new starters where they can go in the business, above and beyond the “obnoxious rubric” used to motivate staff.

Collaborate with your peers – this isn’t a unique challenge for your business so, as Guy suggests, why not collaborate with your peers to see if you can run job share activity. This certainly has the benefit of keeping the talent within the region. Organisations like Manchester Digital could act as a catalyst for this. Indeed, their apprentice programme is a move in that direction.

Let them leave…but stay in touchMike touched on something I’ve endeavoured to do before. The real crux of the “greener grass” syndrome is that the employee will never know what it’s like to work for another business until they try. If curiosity is their main driver, then let them go, but stay in touch and make sure they know you have a role ready for them if they decide it’s not what they wanted.

I want to move beyond anecdote now so I’m on the look-out for some larger data sets. If you know any good research in this space please add it in the comments below.

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