How employers motivate and retain young adults is changing as new generations of staff enter the workplace. This is because the values and expectations of this age group are different from what they have been to previous generations. Employers need to adapt to these changes in order to successfully attract, motivate, and retain young staff.
This article shares highlights from the session where guest speakers, listed below, joined Gareth John to talk about the different motivators for the newest generation of workplace cohorts and what employers can do to maximise commitment from new joiners to encourage retention.
Speakers and panelists
- Lorraine Twist, National Director – Professional Services UK – Hays
- Nik Pratap, Managing Partner and Founder – Pratap Partnership
- Charlotte Steggall, Talent Acquisition Manager – Kubrick Group
- Javed Bobat, Finance Recruiter and Mental Health First Aid Instructor – Fide
- Catherine Wallis, Operations Director – The ONE Group Ltd
The session was made up of two different topics:
- Motivating young adults
- Retaining young adults
You can watch the recordings on each topic by clicking the buttons below.
Please find the key points from the session below.
Motivators for young adults in the workplace
Working with a purpose is one of the most significant mindset shifts in the newest generation of young workers. Recruiters are seeing evidence for this as businesses involved in charities, sustainability, and health care are recieving way more engagement than other sectors. This is due to Gen Z’s wanting to feel as though they are doing something they are passionate about and that their company is bettering the world in some way – purpose over profit. The challenge for employers is how they communicate that they are authentically engaged in purpose. Purpose can present itself in multiple ways including:
- Social – corporate charities, community partnerships, volunteer days
- Sustainability – carbon neutral, carbon offsetting, review of supply chain zero plastics
- Culture – inclusive culture, equity for all, employees treated as individuals, well-being is championed
Building trust is particularly important with Gen Z’s as a lot of them feel automatic distrust toward employment. Employers can build trust in a number of ways:
- Planning – show young adults that you have thought about what you are doing with them when they first start. As well as the plan you have for them once they have finished their training
- Narrative – what young adults see you do as a company has to match up to what you are communicating you are doing. Gen Z’s want to see a sense of belonging and want to feel like they care about the things the company does. They will leave if companies are not staying true to their word as there are options to do so. Creating a company narrative of who you are, what you care about, and how you act on these is important, not only to create but to follow through with as well
- Transparency – be clear during the recruitment process about how young adults are going to be assessed and what their progression will look like, ask them what they want, and encourage them to be in the conversations so they feel involved and clear and know what to expect
- Investment – show you care about you them, be on time, show you want to invest in them, listen to their needs and concerns, and invest in the time to spend with them physically so they are able to learn and grow
Generosity of spirit
Since Covid, home and work life have become a lot more merged. Employees expect employers to have consideration for this through better work-life balance and understand that work doesn’t need to get in the way of everyday life. Employers can express this through their generosity of spirit. Companies will better appeal to young adults if they are generous with how they treat staff and treat them as individuals. Such as offering flexibility and being understanding about personal needs including mental health and wellbeing. This will increase trust and commitment and therefore increase loyalty and productivity.
Young adults want to be in a safe environment where they feel needed, wanted and heard. Employees need to feel as though they are in a space where they can communicate how they feel without judgment. Whilst companies should ensure they have good management and training in place that bring these qualities to life and create an open culture for young adults to thrive in. Businesses should also think about the physical space they have created for workers. Is it a friendly setting that encourages collaboration and openness?
Tips to retain young adults
- Feeling undervalued can intensify with pay so employers should ensure they are paying at least the market-rate salary
- Roles need to have some form of flexibility around them in terms of coming into the office
- Roles should be agile and have development opportunities in and out of the workplace
- Human connection and relatability during an employees journey through a company, from recruitment to development, is essential to keeping people on
- Continuous learning, growth, and career development opportunities that are clearly communicated and laid out
- Effective leaders and management who create a positive work culture and space, but can also have difficult but honest conversations
- An inclusive and nurturing culture that gives back – both socially and environmentally
- Work-life balance
- The ability to listen to what young adults want and need and adjust accordingly
- Do little things regularly for staff and remind them of what you have done/ offer
- Talk to people about what they want and respond. Involve staff in the bigger-picture strategy
- Regular reviews are really important and should be used as opportunities to discuss progression and engagement, particularly where continual learning and mapping progress are key
- Keep on top of mental health and burnout
Post-Qualification Education can play a vital role in improving motivation and retention in employees, particularly for young adults. Employees who are given mapped-out development journeys where they are clearly shown the additional learning opportunities they are working towards can give staff long-term goals, structure, and a purpose to stay in a role.
Two examples of Post-Qualification Education programmes for qualified accountants include:
- Leadership & Management courses – providing the appropriate skills needed for finance employees to effectively manage and lead their teams
- Digital & Finance courses – skills to help accountants with automation so they are able to get repetitive jobs done faster and are able to focus on more value let tasks such as finding insights in data that drive the business forward to better meet objectives