How to not to lose or alienate your Gen Y talent

We embark upon 2019 still frustratingly uncertain as to how the year will unfold and what impact it will have on our businesses. In these unstable times, the last thing you need as a leader is to lose your key players – whether they be established or rising stars.

2.8 million employees quit their jobs each month and it costs approx. £30,614k to find and train a replacement. Investment in your team is therefore crucial, and a people strategy must be an essential component of your business strategy.

Success comes from having a productive, motivated team but numerous studies show that turnover is higher than ever. As soon as next year, 40% of the workforce will be Gen Y. So what make this largest of talent pools choose one company over another and what makes them stay?

What Gen Y need

I touched on what Gen Y expect from their employer in my previous post.  The defining factor is that this generation want a job that will accommodate their values.

Here are 5 key areas, I believe you should focus on to ensure you provide the right environment for your Gen Y talent to flourish:


  • Growth & Development A company offering opportunity and transparent development opportunities will retain Gen Y who will look elsewhere if they feel they are not developing in their role. This does not necessarily mean the hierarchical ‘step-up’, but more fluid, stepping-stone opportunities that involve added responsibility, experience, exposure and challenge. Gen Y are more than willing to participate in activities – traditional training or otherwise – that increase their skills and cement their value to the business.


  • Work/Life Balance According to a recent survey by Forbes, 74% of Gen Y employees want flexible work schedules which allow them to attend to their commitments outside work. This is increasingly disrupting the traditional 9 to 5 schedule as many employees and employers alike, recognise that productivity is not necessarily tied to a specific 7hr window. Requests for flexible working are at an all-time high, and business owners should understand, respect and accommodate work-life integration. Note: balance does not equate to less work, but working differently and flexibly.


  • Passion It is entirely wrong to assume that Gen Y are lazy. When provided with the proper motivation they are widely known to work above and beyond their contractual hours, including evenings and weekends. What motivates them is passion. They need to understand the WHY. Therefore, making the business mission at the centre of everything and open lines of communication at every step of the way is key to keeping their passion alive. Involve your Gen Y in key business decisions, make them privy to challenges and ask their opinion – it will generate trust and engage them even further.


  • Nurture Gen Y are the first cohort born of so-called ‘helicopter parents’. The patience, fairness, time and understanding they received from their mothers and fathers is an expectation in the workplace too. In fact, the relationship between leader and employee often works best when the dynamic is parent-child like! Gen Y require open communication, regular feedback and praise. They are ok with being vulnerable and will readily confess to fear or weakness. A nurturing approach, which may be quite alien to Gen X bosses, will bring out the best in them and help them soar.

We’ll be relying on Gen Y talent for decades to come. Only businesses that understand how this talent pool want to be treated and actively attend to their needs and expectations will avoid the turnover trap.

Are you one of them?