Reducing Turnover and Holding onto Valuable Young Employees

September 30th, 2011

One of the best secret weapons a company can have is an employee who came on board at a young age, full of training and enthusiasm, and stayed.  Employees who have spent most of their adult years growing within the company,  using lessons learned to the benefit of the firm, taking on increasing responsibilities, building an equity of trust, and staying dedicated and passionate about the company mission—these employees are worth more than gold. A company with just one of these should be proud, and a company with several of them can pose a powerful threat to the competition.

But what’s good for the company isn’t always good for the employee, and there are many valid, logical arguments that tend to draw young employees away after only a year or two at a given firm. It’s a good idea to be aware of these arguments so that you can establish a counterforce that will keep your ambitious young workers in the fold.

“How can you grow and gain new skills if you stay in one place?”

Educate young employees and give them opportunities to expand their skill sets. The more they know, the more responsibility they can take on. They want increasing responsibility, and they should have it.

“The same job with the same company for seven years? Aren’t you bored?”

No young employee should have the same job for seven years. Or even five years. If they haven’t been promoted at that point, something’s wrong. And having no higher position to offer them isn’t an excuse. Change their titles and shift their responsibilities, or be prepared to lose them.

“What do you know about life? You’ve worked for the same company since college.”

Periodically evaluate your company culture. If young people aren’t learning, growing and facing interesting challenges with you, they’ll find a more stimulating environment elsewhere.

“Dedication has limits. Don’t be a dope. You’re giving the best years of your life to this firm, but if they had to cut you lose, you know they wouldn’t think twice.”

The way to gain respect is to give respect. And the way to gain loyalty is to show loyalty. Make sure young employees know how much you value them. Regular pay increases (even modest ones) and a little recognition go a long way with young people.

“Get out of there and seize the day! Now is the time to travel the world or go to graduate school. Do it while you’re young and you still can.”

Encourage your employees to tell you what they want out of life. And by all means, if you can give it to them, do so. If your employee wants to travel, have her join the team working on the Osaka account. If she wants to get her master’s degree, let her know how you can fund her degree in exchange for a commitment of three more years with the company. Just remember, you can only find out what she wants if you keep the lines of communication open. Be loyal, be flexible, and be forthright, and your young employees will pay you back with dedication and respect.

For more ideas on how to retain these valuable employees, contact the Palmer Group for suggestions.