Young employees want to make an impact on the workplace but often lack practical experience. Here’s how you can help accelerate their learning and motivation.

Generation Y, or Millennials as they’re also known, were born between the early 1980s and the turn of the millennium, roughly covering anyone who is now 18-36 years old.

Who is Gen Y?

They’re the children of Baby Boomers. They came of age during the global financial crisis, amid the dawn of the digital revolution. And they’ve grown up with the internet, mobile phones and are social-media savvy.

Gen Y employees are confident and want to prove themselves and succeed in the workplace

As such, they’re said to be technologically capable and up-to-date with the latest digital trends. They’re typically family-orientated and are often motivated by work-life balance and workplace relationships.

But that’s not to say they’re not driven by achievement. Gen Y employees are often very confident and want to prove themselves and succeed in the workplace.

Roadblocks to retention

A recent survey by Robert Walters suggests that 9 out of 10 British Gen Yers consider rapid career progress a top priority [1]

Another London Business School survey found that 90% of Gen Yers were planning on leaving their organization within five years. With more than 30% giving it just 24 months [2]

So why upskill?

It’s a risk any organization takes – putting energy and resources into an employee who may simply leave. But without upskilling, your taskforce will quickly stagnate.

90% of Gen Yers were planning on leaving their organization within five years

If you don’t provide training, employees will almost certainly move on. And you’ll find yourself bringing someone new up to speed with the job role. You’ll also incur the cost of hiring.

Plus, Gen Y has a hunger for training and development. If you offer them the opportunity to grow and develop in your company they’re less likely to move on as quickly.

No worse than Gen X

Although Gen Y-ers will move on if they’re not invested in, they’re actually no more likely to hop between jobs than Gen X.

In fact, if the company values match their own – its ethics and coaching, clear progression, flexibility, and feedback – they show even higher levels of employee loyalty.

Learning for Gen Y-ers

This generation doesn’t need to be in a classroom or structured group training session. They’re happy to learn in front of their computers or work with mentors and coaches on the job. But organizations need to motivate them to do so.

Take a different approach

Training shouldn’t just be job specific. It’s important to expose employees to different projects and cross-train in different departments. Understanding how the business works holistically can have powerful knock-on benefits.

Clear goals, achievable progress

Gen Y-ers need to see a clear career path with achievable goals set in place. They want control over their careers and are impatient to see progress.

Upskilling Gen Y is all about encouraging hard work through rewards and recognition

From the time of hiring, they want to know exactly what’s expected of them and what they’ll receive in return.

They also need management which reminds them of the path and their progress along it.

Give and take

Upskilling Gen Y is all about encouraging hard work through rewards and recognition. There’s little point expecting your Gen Y employees to work hard at developing new skills if they don’t feel they’ll benefit from them.

And that there’ll be opportunities to work with a mentor or a coach along the way

Gen-Y-ers are questioners. They want to know what’s in it for them.

Communication is crucial

Make it clear to these employees that they may have to wait two years for a promotion. And that there will be opportunities to work with a mentor or a coach along the way. [3]

If they know that achieving certain goals or skill-based competencies will help them achieve their wider ambitions, they’ll be far more motivated to not only stay with your organization – but to thrive within it.

See how using Workplace is helping Campbell have better conversations. Or try Workplace Premium free for 90-days.


[1] How often should you provide feedback to Millennial staff? Adam Kingl, Forbes (2014)
[2] Generation Y: Loyalty And Leadership, Robert Walters (2017)
[3] ’Millennial survey: winning over the next generation of leaders’, Deloitte (2016)

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