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Gen Y employees are not hanging around

Jul 17, 2014
According to research by the London Business School (LBS), in partnership with Deloitte, most Generation Y employees have no plans to stay with their employers for more than five years. The implication is that employers need to revise their offerings if they are to retain young talent.

The research showed that high potential employees born in the 1980s and 1990s don’t feel bound to a single employer to ensure career progression with 37 per cent reporting they’d stay no more than two years at one firm. And two-fifths admitted that they are already planning their next career move when they start a new job.

The study suggests that employers hoping that talented young workers will stay for the promotion prospects will be disappointed as this motivation to remain takes third place behind work/life balance and organisational culture.

Executive education experts at LBS said the findings provide evidence that employers from the baby boomer generation and Generation X have failed to offer benefits that appeal to the high-potential Gen Y employee.

Adam Kingl, LBS’s Director of Learning Solutions, said: “One response is to revise the employer value proposition in favour of a quicker return to the employee. This might include: assigning a senior mentor to offer executive perspective unusually early, assigning Gen Ys to quick win 12 to 18 month team projects and an acknowledgement that while we may not work together for many years in one go, we may reunite when the Gen Y is a seasoned manager, reaping the benefits of growth without all the costs of nurturing it.”

Survey results also showed that Gen Y’s goals are quite different from previous generations with only 12 per cent of emerging leaders aspiring to emulate chief executives who focus on how the business is trading. 

Instead, the development and promotion of innovation is a bigger priority for younger talent, with 34 per cent of those intent on becoming a company leader preferring to take a more entrepreneurial approach to management. An even higher percentage (39 per cent) said they want to be a leader whose aim is to make the company and the world a better place.

Richard Hytner, Adjunct Associate Professor of Marketing at LBS, said that today leaders have to endure relentless dissatisfaction from shareholders, employers or customers. They must explain and justify their, often unpopular, actions while in the constant glare of the media spotlight. “These leaders occupy a twilight zone of professional and personal trade-offs, leaving little time for the flexing of creative muscles and a more entrepreneurial approach,” he said.

“With a later retirement age and longer working life, portfolio careers encompassing roles with ultimate accountability and roles demanding different leadership skills, those of the counsellor, coach or deputy, could be Gen Y’s best chance of securing the variety of experience and work/life balance that is so important to them.”

Photo: Out the door - some Generation Y employees will only stay a couple of years with one employer.

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