Book a Speaker
Grow Membership
Reduce Turnover
XYZ University YouTube Page LogoXYZ University Instagram Page LogoXYZ University LinkedIn Page LogoXYZ University Twitter Page LogoXYZ University Facebook Page LogoXYZ University Vimeo LogoXYZ University RSS Feed Logo
Talent Development

Are You Losing Your Top Talent? How To Hold On.

There’s nothing more time-consuming or costly than losing talent. Extra work is pushed off to the remaining employees, and anxiety sets in of whether or not you’ll find a solid candidate to fill the position. What’s even more frustrating is when recent hires switch positions or leave the company altogether, within two years. And given that by 2015, the majority of the workforce will be in their 20s, it’s time you took a look at how to retain your top talent.

There’s nothing more time-consuming or costly than losing talent. Extra work is pushed off to the remaining employees, and anxiety sets in of whether or not you’ll find a solid candidate to fill the position. What’s even more frustrating is when recent hires switch positions or leave the company altogether, within two years. And given that by 2015, the majority of the workforce will be in their 20s, it’s time you took a look at how to retain your top talent.

Here are 5 ways to retain your top talent for the long haul:

1. Set goals and live up to them

In interviews, stop asking mundane questions about where the candidate sees him or herself in five years, unless you are actually willing to help them get there.  A few of the biggest reasons for employee turnover are not feeling challenged enough, not laying out a process to develop skills and ultimately not delivering on your promises/commitments.  Young professionals are concerned with obtaining relevant job experience, but staying in a dead-end job, even in this economy, for the sake of a paycheck isn’t something they are willing to do.

2. Ask your employees questions

If you think a quarterly review will help stop turnover, think again. Employees like to feel valued, but more importantly, they like to know their opinions matter.  This is especially true with Generation Xers & Yers. While they might be a more technologically savvy and accomplished multi-tasking group, they crave mentoring relationships with established professionals in your company. Setup bi-weekly or monthly status meetings and use this time as an opportunity to check-in on how they are progressing in achieving their goals. Ask what they are looking to learn or accomplish with their current position and how you can help them get there.

3. Listen to their needs

When interviewing a candidate or current employee, make note of what they are looking for in order to accomplish their career goals. Ask them to describe their perfect job (regardless of whether or not it’s with your company), and tell them how they can achieve it by working for you. Not only does this set the precedent for your candidate to articulate their objectives, but also gives you the chance to impress them with how you align with their goals.

4. Rethink your recruitment package

While knowing you can’t help your company’s benefit package, you do have the power to tailor a recruitment package to the individual needs of your candidate. With gas prices on the rise, most companies are offering telecommuting as an option for certain employees. Technology has made it more and more convenient to work on the go, and employers should allow this. Most smart phones have the capability to connect with company email, allowing for employees to stay on top of urgent messages while at a personal appointment or a conference event.

5. Connect where your talent lives

If you aren’t on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or have a regularly updated blog, you are missing a significant link to your candidate pool; especially the 20-something crowd. Job seekers like to have an opportunity to peek inside the company culture, in order to see if they would fit in. Using social media also affords you the opportunity to evaluate a candidate before they apply. You can view job history, recommendations, view their connections, and monitor their online behavior. Most importantly, you will be seen as an interactive company to the majority of social media users, Gen X & Y.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.


Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.


Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.


Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

Take the first step towards your future.

Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?