How to retain staff – why are all the young people leaving?

by Seth Bodin on May 26, 2022

how to retain staff

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How to retain staff is an issue for many firms in a wide variety of sectors, despite the economic uncertainty. The key to retaining employees, especially younger workers, is developing and nurturing a company culture people don’t want to leave. Easier said than done, right? The question for boards and executive teams is – can you stop young employees from walking away? 

It’s no secret that young people are constantly on the move. Though many employers lament the challenge of keeping young workers engaged in their jobs, several straightforward steps can be taken to achieve this goal. 

Studies have shown that workplace flexibility, positive feedback, and opportunities for growth and development are among the key factors influencing millennials’ decision to stay with a company. By ensuring that your workplace environment meets these needs, you can keep your young employees happy and productive for years to come.

As the economy emerged from the Covid-19 closures, staff shortages have been a surprising long term symptom. 

How to retain staff before the pandemic was a growing issue. There were shortages in high-tech sectors, particularly in software development and data analysis.

However, post-Covid, the shortages have spread throughout Western economies and have started to badly affect sectors like tourism, hospitality, bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets. 

According to a Fáilte Ireland survey, more than 40% of the tourism and hospitality sector employees did not return to their former employers after the pandemic. 15% transferred to a new employer in the accommodation and food sector, while 27% switched to a new employer in a different industry.

The shift seems to be an example of people “trading up” their jobs. 

The issue for boards and company executives is getting skilled staff and keeping them. 

How to retain staff and why it’s important

As the baby-boomer generation starts to retire, organisations face losing a large part of their workforce. 

This is especially critical in knowledge-intensive industries, where experience and institutional memory are essential for success. 

Many companies have programs to attract and retain young workers to address this issue.

There are several reasons why companies need to keep young workers. 

First, there will be a shortage of workers with the necessary skills and experience. This is especially critical in knowledge-intensive industries, where expertise and institutional memory are essential for success. 

Second, young workers are often more creative and innovative than their older counterparts. They are more likely to develop new ideas and solutions to problems. 

Third, young workers are generally more motivated and energetic than older workers. They are also less likely to have family obligations that might interfere with their work. 

Finally, young workers are usually more loyal to their employers and less likely to leave for another job.

Different methods of how to retain staff

Most young workers say they would like to stay with their current employer for a long time, but they don’t feel very confident that this will happen. 

A large majority of young workers say they expect to leave their jobs within five years. Let’s take a detailed look. 

New research from the interviews 

Without a doubt, there are some amazing ways in which employers can work to retain young workers.

Some recommendations for boards and employers include:

● Develop a strong employer brand and communicate it well to potential recruits

● Make the application and interview process more efficient and streamlined

● Offer competitive pay and benefits, including opportunities for professional development

● Create a work environment that is supportive and collaborative

● Provide clear expectations and feedback on performance

● Encourage communication and feedback from employees at all levels

Create career jobs

It’s not surprising that young workers are looking for opportunities to grow their careers. What is surprising is that so many employers don’t have any formal career development program in place.

Career jobs are essential for two reasons:

● First, they give employees a sense of stability and security. 

● Second, they provide employees with a clear path for advancement.

When employers don’t offer career jobs, it sends a message to young workers that they are not valued and that their future with the company is uncertain. 

This can be a significant turnoff for young workers looking for stability in their careers.

Build a positive relationship before hiring

Before hiring a young worker, take the time to build a positive relationship. This will make the transition into the workplace much smoother and will help encourage the young worker to stay with your company for a more extended period.

Provide opportunities for growth and development

Allowing young workers to grow and develop in their careers is a great way to keep them engaged with your company. Offering mentorship programs, training opportunities, and chances to take on new responsibilities can help young workers feel like they are part of something larger and have a future with your company.

Pay and benefits matter

Young workers often live pay cheque to pay cheque, so it’s essential to offer competitive pay and benefits. Consider offering perks like student loan repayment assistance or flexible work hours to attract and retain young workers.

Opportunities for growth

Many young workers feel stuck in their current roles with no opportunity for advancement. To keep young workers engaged, it’s essential to provide opportunities to grow and develop in their careers. This could include offering mentorship programs, professional development courses or training, and career progression planning.

A positive work-life balance

Young workers are looking for a good work-life balance. This means having the opportunity to have a life outside of work without sacrificing their career development. Employers can support a positive work-life balance by offering flexible work hours and remote working options.

A supportive and inclusive culture

Young workers want to feel like part of a supportive and inclusive culture. This means feeling like they can be themselves at work without fearing discrimination or harassment. Employers can create a supportive and inclusive culture by developing policies that protect employees from discrimination and harassment and investing in employee training.

Communicate openly and frequently

Open communication is critical in any workplace, but it’s imperative with younger workers. They want to feel like they’re part of the team and their opinions matter. Employees who don’t feel valued are more likely to look for a new job. 

Employers can encourage open communication by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. Feedback should be given frequently, and it should be specific, objective, and actionable. 


Employers should focus on intrinsic motivation to keep young employees engaged and productive. The key to retaining young workers is giving them a sense of purpose in their job. This can be done in several ways, such as providing opportunities for growth and development, helping them feel like they are making a difference, and allowing them to have some control over their work.

If you can provide your young employees with these things, you’re likely to see less turnover and more productivity in the long run.

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