• Majority of Gen Y ‘won’t stay with one employer more than five years’

  • 28 May 2014
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Employee value proposition needs revision to retain young talent, survey suggests

Employers will have to try harder to retain Generation Y talent as a global survey revealed 90 per cent of this age group plan to stay no longer than five years with one organisation.

Research by London Business School (LBS) showed that high potential employees born in the 1980s and 1990s don’t feel bound to a single employer to ensure career progression with 37 per cent reporting they’d stay no more than two years at one firm. And two-fifths admitted that they are already planning their next career move when they start a new job.

The study suggests that employers hoping that talented young workers will stay for the promotion prospects will be disappointed as this motivation to remain takes third place behind work/life balance and organisational culture.

Executive education experts at LBS said the findings provide evidence that employers from the baby boomer generation and Generation X have failed to offer benefits that appeal to the high-potential Gen Y employee.

Adam Kingl, LBS’s director of learning solutions, said: “One response is to revise the employer value proposition in favour of a quicker return to the employee. This might include: assigning a senior mentor to offer executive perspective unusually early, assigning Gen Ys to quick win 12 to 18 month team projects and an acknowledgement that while we may not work together for many years in one go, we may reunite when the Gen Y is a seasoned manager, reaping the benefits of growth without all the costs of nurturing it.”

Survey results also showed that Gen Y’s goals are quite different from previous generations with only 12 per cent of emerging leaders aspiring to emulate chief executives who focus on how the business is trading. 

Instead, the development and promotion of innovation is a bigger priority for younger talent, with 34 per cent of those intent on becoming a company leader preferring to take a more entrepreneurial approach to management. An even higher percentage (39 per cent) said they want to be a leader whose aim is to make the company and the world a better place.

Richard Hytner, adjunct associate professor of marketing at LBS, said that today leaders have to endure relentless dissatisfaction from shareholders, employers or customers. They must explain and justify their, often unpopular, actions while in the constant glare of the media spotlight. “These leaders occupy a twilight zone of professional and personal trade-offs, leaving little time for the flexing of creative muscles and a more entrepreneurial approach,” he said.

“With a later retirement age and longer working life, portfolio careers encompassing roles with ultimate accountability and roles demanding different leadership skills, those of the counsellor, coach or deputy, could be Gen Y’s best chance of securing the variety of experience and work/life balance that is so important to them.”


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Comments (4)
  • Hi Elina,

    LBS will publish the results of the study at its annual Global Leadership Summit at the end of June

  • Hi Claire - really interesting article and would be great if I could read the complete HRB - Deloitte survey results. Do you know when I could find that? Thanks

  • Hi Claire,

    really interesting article. It's something that we've also been discussing recently at Investors in People. We've written an article focusing specifically on reward schemes aimed at motivating Gen Y which you might find interesting: http://bit.ly/1qUw48q

  • This is not the first survey to identify that workers entering the workplace want different things and rate work life balance and culture higher than other benefits including basic pay. Yet many senior managers will still ignore the chance to instigate true modern working practices by allowing all staff to work flexibly when the revised regulations come in at the end of the month. Senior managers claim to value hard data and rational decision making over sentiment yet choose time and again to ignore hard data about their younger workforce who will vote with their feet.