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Hanging Onto Your Youth

Retaining young talent

When it comes to recruitment, it might seem like an employer’s market at the moment, especially with regard to younger employees. After all, the latest UK figures show unemployment rising to 2.62 million in November. That’s a lot of people looking for work and as an employer you could be forgiven for thinking you hold all the cards.

However, before you get too complacent the latest figures from Mercer suggest that there’s one group of people who aren’t afraid to vote with their feet when the job doesn’t meet their expectations. Apparently, almost half of those aged between 16 and 24 were seriously thinking about leaving their current employment. And this at a time when youth unemployment in the UK now stands at a million for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Hang onto the good employees

Now on the one hand that might mean that if your younger staff choose to up sticks you have a large pool from which to select their replacements but even when it’s ‘your’ market, recruitment is still too time-consuming to be done when not absolutely necessary. It’s usually much more cost-effective to hang on to the good employees that you already have. To do that, you need to know why they are ready to leave and it turns out that the reasons are probably older than they are.

  1. Not enough money – nobody expects to be paid for experience that they haven’t got but if they’re paid less for doing the same job as older, more established colleagues… All employees need salary reviews and reassurance that good work is rewarded and progression is possible.
  2. Uninteresting work – they may be young but everyone has a talent for something; play to employee’s strengths wherever possible. An interested employee is a motivated employee.
  3. Feeling undervalued – if they’re doing a good job, tell them; if they’re doing a bad job, tell them how to do a good one. Good performance management is often just a common sense case of giving credit where it’s due (and an employee who feels appreciated where they are is less likely to go looking for opportunities elsewhere).


Give your retention strategy the once-over

Who knows, maybe survey responses like this are empty threats or just the restlessness of youth? Hard to say, after all, the survey also states that the same age group are more likely than any other to recommend their employer to others. Either way, SMEs certainly shouldn’t use them to make assumptions about younger individuals on the payroll, but whatever the truth in your workplace, it’s never a bad time to give your retention strategy the once-over.

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