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Beyond the basics with your employee retention – engaging across the generations

By James Bessant, 12th November 2016

Creating a team who are all pulling in the same direction is not straightforward and requires numerous building blocks to get to your end goal.  Add in the range of generations now in the workplace and you also need to consider flexibility in your retention strategy to engage with each of these.

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It takes a lot of time and effort to recruit the best employees, not to mention the costs that are associated with any recruitment campaign. If you then have to replace these individuals in the short to mid-term, this cost is exponentially increased. Losing key team members can stall business growth and could also lead to additional churn when other colleagues question how valuable they could potentially be to other employers.

With the UK currently in the midst of a definite candidate driven market, this means the best talent is at a premium, at all levels of management, from entry to executive level. So well done if you’ve been successful in recruiting great people into your business but if you are not keeping them, how can you shift that balance?

Creating a team who are all pulling in the same direction is not straightforward and requires numerous building blocks to get to your end goal, namely a cohesive group of individuals who live and breathe your company.  Add to this the range of generations now in the workplace and you also need to consider adopting flexibility in your retention strategy aligned with each of these. What will engage with the vastly experienced baby boomers, will be very different to that of gen X and even more so for millennials too. Forward thinking companies will also be mindful of those soon to enter the world of work – generation z!

At all levels of experience, research has shown that people tend to quit their bosses, not their companies. It is also well documented that not all people relate or react well to a one-size-fits all management style. With potentially four generations now, or soon to be, in the workplace it is therefore even more crucial to adopt flexible retention measures to engage with each of these different audiences. This is further complicated when you consider that different personality types also have different drivers too!

It is incredibly important for those with line management responsibility to manage each individual as exactly that; an individual with their own likes, dislikes, motivators and success drivers. Learn what pushes each person’s buttons within your team/s and it will help immensely with maximising retention levels. Likewise, the more that you understand the different personality types within your teams, the easier it becomes to individually engage, inspire and retain each individual.

Add in the different generations and managing a variety of personalities can be even more challenging if your team is a mix of millennials, gen x and baby boomers, as they do have very different work-related expectations. Having said that, creating teams that include a variety of ages and experience within your organisation can aid retention tremendously, so learning to motivate and engage with a mixed group of individuals definitely has many advantages. So what do you need to consider across the different generations?

Baby Boomers are most commonly motivated by opportunities for professional development, being in positions of authority, recognition for achievements and their workplace benefits. 

It is a very different story for Generation X, as these employees are most commonly motivated by things which offer them a good home / work life balance such as family-based and/or lifestyle benefits and corporate wellbeing. However, like the baby boomers, they appreciate recognition of achievement as well as professional development opportunities.

For millennials, or generation y as they are also known, they are driven by opportunities to learn new technologies as well as express creativity and opinions. Additionally, an enjoyable workplace environment where work is focused on short, changeable and fast tasks can also be key drivers.

And we should make a mention of generation z, even if they are just coming of an age where work is the next step and industry as a whole are yet to fully understand all the elements that motivate them fully. This audience are driven by respect, having their voice heard and also equality. Other motivators are out of work socialisation and mentoring platforms.

By adopting a flexible approach and a range of suitable motivational options as part of any retention strategy, each individual within your team is likely to be happier overall. If they are happier in their relationship with their manager and the opportunities to engage with their work and the business in a way that suits them, they are more likely to remain positive and content in their role within the company. If someone is more positive in their daily tasks, they are far more likely to be highly productive; particularly when challenges arise. 

Adapting your management style to the individual will ensure your team will feel valued and respected for what is important to them and this flexible style of management ensures that staff remain motivated, engaged and, most importantly, stay working for your business!

This is just one element to consider if you wish to retain staff. Download our latest eBook on 9 key areas to focus on to significantly improve your employee retention levels.

Tags: employer advice, employee retention, Employer, retention, assign James Bessant

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