The eternal conundrum: how can we attract and retain young workers? What do new generations expect from the labour market?  These are difficult questions considering that young people are often more willing to seek new horizons and employment opportunities.

Understanding the wants and needs of the new generation of workers can give companies a clear advantage in successfully attracting these professionals and creating workplaces where their ideas are listened to and valued.

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Young workers are more willing to change their jobs

If the “big quit” has taught organisations anything, it’s the importance of retaining talent. However, many companies run the risk of letting talent slip through the cracks by not supporting employees in their professional and personal development, or by not knowing what they expect or demand from companies and work environments.

According to a survey conducted by PwC, Generation Z has a 27% chance of changing jobs in the next 12 months. For millennials, the figure is similar at 23%. For older respondents, the number is just 9%.


“Generation Z is 27% more likely to change jobs in the next 12 months”.


The results show that talent retention must go beyond salary. Top priorities for young workers include training, development, flexibility, autonomy and transparency on social issues. Companies that understand these priorities and adjust their workforce strategy accordingly can attract and retain young talent more effectively.


A question of values and identity

We work for money, there’s no doubt about that. However, money alone is not enough to retain talent. Delivering projects aligned with employees‘ values and making it easier for them to feel free to be themselves in the work environment are, according to the PwC survey, the second and third most important factors for employees considering a change of job.

Establishing an environment in which employees feel that they can enjoy that personal unfolding of their uniqueness and identify with what they do requires empowering leaders, removing cultural barriers and blind spots, and holding managers accountable for creating an open, diverse and inclusive organisational culture.

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The power of difficult conversations

Conversations about sensitive social issues are not the divisive and polarising distraction that managers might fear. Among respondents who have social conversations at work, the positives outweigh the negatives. We’re talking, for instance, about a better understanding of colleagues, a more open and inclusive work environment, and greater empathy.

This is most prevalent among young workers. According to PwC, 69% of Generation Z and millennial respondents have conversations with colleagues about issues such as civil rights, racial injustice and gender equality, compared to 55% of baby boomers.

Certainly, supporting and encouraging sensitive conversations is not easy. Leaders have a unique opportunity to foster honest and open dialogue within their organisations by providing supportive and non-judgmental platforms. This requires setting clear standards and providing the necessary resources, but it also forces senior executives to step out of their comfort zone by encouraging them to tackle difficult conversations by promoting active listening.

By participating they will help bring meaning, humanity and social impact to the workplace, demonstrating that they’re also there to learn from the reality and views of others.


Companies are investing in their people…, but enough?

Younger workers are sending a clear signal to leaders that they want more training and development, particularly in new technical and digital skills. But, according to PwC, the proportion of companies taking these steps remains low.


“Younger workers are sending a clear signal to leaders that they want more training and development”.


Only 40% of employees said their company is helping to improve their skills, and just 26% said their organisation is making work easier through technology. Younger workers are much more likely to change jobs when they are not taught the technical or digital skills needed to advance their careers: 44% of Generation Z and 43% of millennials cited this as one of their top three concerns, compared to 29% of baby boomers.

The new hybrid work scenario will require extra effort on the part of employers to prepare them properly. Less structured learning programmes, based on multiple intelligences at work and with more personalised mentoring.

In addition, the development of soft skills such as collaboration, communication and conflict resolution cannot be neglected. These skills are usually acquired first-hand, through interactions with colleagues.


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Flexibility and autonomy are paramount

Because, for young workers, autonomy and flexibility to do their work when and where they want is already a priority. Around half of the respondents agreed on the importance of flexitime and hybrid working.

They value the ability to manage their own time and to combine remote working days with days in the office. As we discussed in this article, hybrid models facilitate time optimisation and work-life balance. In addition, they can improve people’s performance and save costs for the organisation.

Companies wishing to retain young talent will need to adapt by creating new work rules that empower employees with more freedom and autonomy.

Ultimately, when it comes to recruiting and retaining the talent of young workers, it is imperative to understand the challenges, wants and needs of the younger generation. Dedicating time and resources to promoting a workplace that fosters innovation, diversity, flexibility and training will be key to achieving this.