Adam Kingl: Rethinking reward for generation Y

One thing is for certain: employees are a lot less loyal than they used to be. Generation Y in particular, our youngest employees in their twenties and early thirties, seem to jump from employer to employer with an almost frightening rapidity. Make no mistake either, this is not just a symptom of one’s life stage. This generation Y has a very different paradigm of ‘what it means to work here’.

A survey of generation Y executive education participants at London Business School between 2009 and 2014 suggests that even our high-potentials, 90% to be precise, have little intention of remaining with a single employer for more than five years. Even more dire, over a third believe they would not stay more than 24 months. Similarly, the US Department of Labour estimates that today’s 18-year-olds will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38.

While these plummeting figures may have little short-term hope of reversing themselves, there are perhaps a few steps that employers can take, which if implemented, can help to recruit top talent, and possibly retain that talent for longer than one’s competitors. This same London Business School survey has three clear promises that generation Y considers most important from their employers, in order of importance.

First, work-life balance. This is not working fewer hours, this is admitting that in the digital age, people can work anywhere, anytime.

Second, organisational culture; employees must nurture their cultures as their only inimitable, sustainable source of competitive advantage.

Third, development opportunities. These do not have to be promotions. They can be learning programmes, mentoring, international assignments, secondments, shadowing, projects or coaching, to name a few.

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Paying a little more attention to these three benefits enjoys the double advantage of being not only relatively easy to implement, but easier on the budget than purely monetary rewards.

Adam Kingl is executive director of thought leadership, executive education at the London Business School