Industries Desperate to Keep Talented Young Workers (Generation Y ) Train Managers to Boost Retention

Skilled 20-somethings (millennials) require different management style in workplace if employers hope to keep them from seeking work elsewhere.

HOUSTON – Across the board, exit interviews with Generation Y employees show that younger workers don’t feel valued by management. Companies are taking immediate action, hiring trainers and consultants who can quickly move managers away from traditional management styles or assumptions and toward tactics and behaviors that can boost recruitment and retention of valued workers in their 20s.

Wynn Solutions researched top corporations in several industries to learn why attrition rates run high among younger employees. A study of exit interviews showed a common theme of dissatisfaction among Gen Y workers: Managers are not giving them the attention or praise they crave.

The result, says Garrison Wynn of Wynn Solutions, is a young work force that feels undervalued and won’t hesitate to seek recognition from another employer. “They believe the best of jobs lasts just three to five years, and they’re searching for opportunities wherever they present themselves. A company whose managers don’t understand how to motivate this newest generation risks losing talented, highly skilled employees – and then invests more money to recruit and train yet another replacement,” Wynn explains.

“The good news is that when managers change their style and corporate culture to address Generation Y’s greatest needs, it’s working rather quickly to increase productivity – by 50 to 60 percent, in some case studies – and establish loyalty among employees in their 20s.”

Wynn, speaker and trainer to many top American corporations, notes that the biggest hurdle to gaining such loyalty is convincing managers over age 40 that they need to change their tactics. Blame it on a difference in mind-set, Wynn says. Baby-boomer managers often spent years performing menial tasks before being selected for more exciting challenges, but Generation Y has been raised to believe their future is of their choosing. “When you repeatedly tell a child she can achieve anything she wants, and then you coax her along by rewarding her for hitting one easy-to-achieve goal after another, she grows to expect that pattern when she enters the work world,” Wynn says.

Not long ago, most people preferred a hands-off management style – that’s the baby boomers’ reality. But younger workers have been conditioned from childhood to expect constant guidance, attention, feedback and rewards. In his new article “Generations Working Better Together,” business relationship expert Garrison Wynn outlines the reasons for the difference and provides strategies for bridging the gap. Chief among those: creating an environment that young workers won’t want to leave.

“Generation Y tends to equate attention with value,” says Wynn.  “Without attention and feedback from supervisors, they feel disconnected from the company and their contribution to its success. When they feel undervalued in the workplace they often choose to quit first and worry later about what they will do next.” This generation wants managers to spend time with them, help set realistic and achievable goals, challenge them and give constant feedback along the way.

In “Generations Working Better Together,” Wynn explains how and why managers need to motivate the Gen Y work force: “The recurring message delivered through this approach goes like this: ‘We love you; we know you can do it; and here is a little prize at the halfway mark to prove that to you.’ Members of this under-30 group are shaped by more than just the educational process; they also grew up in the most affluent society the world has ever known. We gave them a lot and told them they could have anything they wanted in life. Now, the under-30s are here to collect! The bottom line: We did it!” 

This reality is forcing managers to reevaluate their management style and has companies seeking outside help to teach managers new skills in employee communication. Young workers are a company’s future, and the manager who learns to motivate them and train them will earn their strong loyalty.

With the corporations he works with, Wynn emphasizes the importance of effective management styles and a willingness to adopt measures to attract and retain the best young employees. “Under appreciated, talented young people have choices and will simply leave, while the mediocre ones will probably be with you for life,” he observes.

About Wynn Solutions:
Wynn Solutions develops research-based employee training programs and motivational keynote speeches to help managers direct younger workers more effectively.


Garrison Wynn, President
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