How to retain Gen Z and Millennial employees during the Great Resignation

November 1, 2021

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Millennial and Gen Z Employees are at the forefront of the Great Resignation

A significant side effect of COVID-19 on the workplace is what we’ve come to know as the Great Resignation.

In April 2021, a record breaking 4 million employees across the United States quit their jobs. Across the pond, Personio and Opinium reported that 38% of workers across the UK and Ireland have made plans to quit their jobs within the year while a global survey by Microsoft found that 41% of workers were considering leaving their role or changing professions in 2021.

As the global economy stabilises and employees become more confident in their standing, they are gravitating towards potential career changes with more determination than ever.

Leading the charge are Millennial and Gen Z employees.

Job dissatisfaction is growing amongst the younger generation

job dissatisfaction in younger employees
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Based on Adobe’s The Future of Time report, 35% of workers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Japan plan to change jobs in the next year.

Out of this group, 56% are Gen Z workers and 49% are Millennials.

There are many reasons accountable for this desire to switch and one that stands out is low levels of engagement in the workplace. A recent Gallup report found that only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work and that the majority (55%) are actively disengaged.

Failure to address this issue can result in huge loss for businesses. When the future of your workforce is indifferent to their work and disconnected from their company, the more they are likely to jump on a new opportunity when it presents itself.

Employers need to look inwards and determine how they can provide Millennial and Gen Z employees with compelling reasons to stay or risk losing them to the competition.

Business leaders around the world are currently faced with two sets of challenges: They must identify how to attract Millennial and Gen Z talent who are on the lookout for new opportunities, and they must also determine how to retain their existing employees.

We look at five ways employers can improve their retention of Gen Z and Millennial employees.

1. Incorporate flexibility in the workplace

Now more than ever, employees want flexibility. They yearn for a work culture that encourages productivity while giving workers the autonomy to manage their own schedules and fulfil personal commitments beyond the workplace.

This is especially true amongst younger employees who are more likely to change jobs for:

Adobe the future of time (1)

Today, only 23% of employees surveyed by Adobe work flexible schedules when it is most convenient for them, but 51% see this arrangement as their ideal work schedule.

For employers, it’s important to recognise that flexible hours go beyond working from home. There are various arrangements that can support your employees in maintaining a healthy level of output without compromising on their work-life balance.

Some methods that have been successfully employed by major companies such as Slack and Dell include:

Compressed work weeks

This arrangement provides employees with greater flexibility in working schedules by allowing them to get an additional day off provided they fulfill their contracted number of hours.

For example, an employee whose contract maintains that they must work 40 hours a week can choose to work four 10-hour day shifts and get the fifth day off.

Remote working

Also known a teleworking, this occurs when employees can opt to work from home or another location (such a co-working space) during the work week.

This is especially helpful for employees who face challenges in finding transportation to work, have physical limitations or are based in different geographic locations.


Job-sharing occurs when a company hires two people on a flexible or part-time arrangement to fulfill the responsibilities of a single full-time position.

In this situation, both employees will split the workload along with the pay for the position. It’s primary benefit is that it allows workers seeking reduced hours to get extra time off without having to quit their roles.

Hybrid working

As one of the most flexible arrangements, hybrid work is a situation that allows employees to work on-site on certain days and remotely on others based on personal preference and circumstances.

The focus here is entirely on quality of work delivered rather than where and when employees work.


Refers to an arrangement that gives employees the freedom to work non-traditional working hours. Employees can decide when their day starts and ends as long as they fulfill their contracted number of hours per week.

As more companies lean into flexibility, taking a personalised approach will set your company apart from competitors. Businesses that go beyond a one-size-fits-all policy and instead, aligns it with the needs and wants of their employees will not only create a long-term and sustainable flexibility policy, they will also foster a better working environment for everyone.

2. Adopt a digital-first mindset

tech in the workplace
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By 2025, Millennial are forecasted to make up 75% of the global workforce and Gen Z, 27%. For both groups, most of their lives have been spent surrounded and enabled by technology and this expectation extends to the workplace.

This means that the technology will be one of the most important tools for attracting and retaining Millennial and Gen Z talent.

From instant access to information to the automation of tedious tasks, technology plays a crucial role in transforming the workplace into one that will attract and hold on to younger employees. And as more Gen Z employees enter the workforce, outdated technology that was once tolerated by previous generations will send them towards the closest exit.

As for their older but no less tech-savvy Millennial counterparts, Ally Energy reports that 95% currently view access to the latest technology as an important value proposition when selecting a workplace and 43% are willing to leave a company if the tech stack is not up to par.

Companies that already adopt a digital-first mindset will have a strong hiring advantage by being able to simplify workflows and support employees with the resources they need to work efficiently and collaborate with one another whether they’re in-office or working remotely.

What tech will I need to attract and retain employees?

Streamlining workflows and providing easy access to information is at the top of the list when considering the type of tech to implement in the workplace. Virtual onboarding, digitised learning and HR platforms are also worthy additions for attracting younger employees.

3. Employ tools and strategies to curb burnout

According to the Adobe survey, Gen Z (57%) and Millennial (54%) employees feel the most pressure to be available at all times and 62% or enterprise workers feel that their company is responsible for their long workdays.

Among the latter, 39% blame their company work culture while another 36% attribute tedious administrative processes and tasks to employee burnout.

Says Todd Gerber VP of document cloud product marketing at Adobe, “People are motivated by passions that led them to pursue their career, and they don’t want to spend most of their week on paperwork. Younger generations grew up with digital technology and are accustomed to its simplicity, so they know there are better and faster ways of doing things.”

When it comes to increasing productivity and eliminating tedious administrative tasks, looking into automation and workplace collaboration software are some of the steps businesses can take to improve employee connectedness and productivity.

Companies must also make wellbeing a part of their culture and equip employees with the resources they need to maintain their physical and mental health.

According to SHRM, HR managers play a pivotal role in achieving this transformation and should focus on encouraging employee input across all levels to achieve a truly successful wellness initiative within a company.

With proper guidance, employee representatives can help companies: 

strategies to improve wellbeing

4. Integrate training and development with their career goals

Above everything else, Millennial and Gen Z employees and want their work to have meaning. Working with them to enhance their skills in areas that are of interest to them and that align with their career goals will go a long way in retaining them.

In Airswift’s GETI report, we learn that one of the best ways to empower employees is through training and development. Be it through upskilling programs to equip employees with new skills or reskilling workers to further enhance existing ones, the training and development your company employs can take on many forms. This might include mentorship programs, online course, project management or planning an event for the company.

As a whole, employees want to know that what they’re doing is bringing value to the company and for those that feel as if their efforts are not making a difference or that they are stagnating in their roles, the more they are likely to leave.

Once you’ve rolled out your training and development program, make sure to set realistic expectations. Speak to your employees and get their feedback on what is meaningful to them and also use this as an opportunity to share your experiences and reinforce company values.

5. Foster healthy DEI in the workplace

Foster healthy DEI in the workplace
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According to Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial survey report, 11% of Millennials and 16% of Gen Z view diversity, equal opportunity and discrimination as a top three personal concern. However, this does not mean that the issue is not a serious problem. Six out of 10 Gen Z and 56% of Millennials view systemic racism as very or fairly widespread in our society and more than a quarter feel that they’ve been discriminated by businesses and in their workplace.

A key takeaway from the report is for businesses to reevaluate their hiring and retention processes gender and colour-blind.

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace survey tells us that diverse groups – including women, LGBTQIA+ employees, BIPOC employees and working parents – were affected the hardest by COVID-19. This fortifies the fact that there is still way to go in terms of improving DEI in the workplace and the pandemic helped to shed light on the existing inequalities that continue to dog various industries.

Some of the steps that business leaders can take to improve DEI in the workplace include:

Altering their hiring and screening processes for new candidates

Companies can utilise practical software programs designed to reduce hiring biases when screening candidates. Examples include Google Chrome’s Unbiasify extension that allows hiring managers to remove names and profile photos on social networks to help eliminate unconscious bias, and Textio; an augmented writing platform that helps companies create job descriptions using more inclusive language.

Offer diversity training for both managers and employees

Providing people access to safe and non-judgemental environment space is a good way to raise awareness and help them recognise their own biases without making a specific group feel targeted.

Hire diversity managers or teams

These parties will be able to help your organisation create and implement programs that help promote and encourage DEI.

Create space for the various religions and cultures that co-exist within your company

Whether it’s setting up prayer rooms or celebrating the different cultural holidays observed by your employees, there are many ways to make employees of all cultures feel visible and included.

Create more discreet employee grievance procedures

One in four Black and Hispanic workers have experience discrimination in the workplace but according to Equal Employment Opportunity commission, only 1% of cases have been formally reported between 1997 to 2018.

Some of the methods to improving these procedures include offering informal mediations instead of formal hearing processes, bringing in an impartial mediator to oversee a conversation meant to remedy the issue, and creating affinity groups to provide additional support within the company.

Download the Airswift Talent Retention White Paper

To learn more about talent retention strategies for 2021 and beyond, our white paper, Re-shaping Talent Retention for the Energy Industry in a Post-COVID World takes an in-depth look into the various practices and strategies business can employ to improve their talent retention.

Click the button below to download your copy today and get access to these insights and much more.

Download the Talent Retention White Paper


This post was written by: Leanna Seah, Content Marketing Coordinator