Hiring Millennials and Gen Z: Will They Stay?

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Hiring Millennials and Gen Z: Will They Stay?

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Many organizations are searching for employees who represent the millennial or generation Z population, but if they hire them, will they stay?

business woman with her staff in background at office

Questions like this are good. They help us to focus and be better prepared to make good decisions. Many organizations desire to on-board employees representing both generations but often they report difficulties in finding suitable candidates or challenges in having them stay once they are hired. Generalizing on this subject is tricky because each industrial sector, geographic location, and organization size has an impact on the data.

Let’s consider just two points:

  • Millennials are staying longer with their early career employer (Whitehouse Report 2014).
  • Enrollment in 2 and 4 year colleges has been volatile (up and down) since 2010.

These points are important because many informal reports suggest that many who get hired stick around only from a few minutes to a few months and then take off for a different job; and that many are college educated and as such only accept the highest paying, no manual labor white collar job opportunities. This data set might support a different hypothesis.

Research data behind the millennial and generation Z population is complex. Millennial behavior has been studied and trends exist, but much of the trending has numerous other factors involved which only add to the confusion. Some of these factors include rural vs. urban living, home ownership, and marriage and family, and this is just naming a few.

It is worth mentioning that there appears to be a trend with the most recent generations preferring to relocate to more urban settings leaving businesses in smaller rural communities feeling like they have a lack of choices. The emerging generations might choose to start their own families and become homeowners later in life, and as such they might not share the same style of community commitment as those generations who have come before them. This is not about right or wrong, it is an indication of differences.

Will They Stay?

Complex issues sometimes have to be broken down into simple terms. Organizations need to make the best choices possible for their workforce. There will always be trade-offs with skills, compensation, and other employee value based factors. So how can organizations improve their millennial and generation Z turnover ratio?

  • Hire Smart. Use interviewing skills and techniques to make the best choices for your organizational needs and location. Having a strategy that includes competency models and employee demographic data that illustrates the characteristics of the ideal candidate are best.
  • Cultural Values. Value the most recent generations, emphasize this with actions and a well-illustrated culture. Many are eager to earn an honest living, but they’ll seek to be respected and not feel as though they are being inappropriately used.
  • Mentor. Build and encourage mentor opportunities with role model employees of a similar generation. Often organizations will attempt to form connections for mentor opportunities by pairing mentees with role models of a different generation, while this might be somewhat situational, this is often not as effective as someone within the same generation.

My experiences working with many different organizations in both rural and urban settings indicate that organizations that lack a specific strategy for on-boarding the most recent generations are the same organizations that struggle the most to have them stay. In contrast, organizations that have a strategy and follow it are most likely the same organizations with a culture that is acceptable across the entire generational framework.

Hiring decisions are certainly complex and not every person (employee or employer) will actually deliver exactly as they present throughout the interview process. You’ll never get a guarantee that every employee is going to stay, and perhaps not every employee you’ll want to keep.

Generational Denial

One last thing worth mentioning, occasionally I encounter organization leaders who believe that generational differences are not real and that the generational problem has been going on since the industrial revolution. If the leadership team cannot agree on the problem, it is unlikely that a solution will be found.

Create a strategy that builds a culture that achieves your desired results.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Dennis Gilbert

October 24, 2016at 9:32 am

I believe part of what defines the various workforce generations is that they have moderately different values and beliefs, which may transfer to expectations. Gen Y (Millennials) certainly are the subject of much conversation about values.


October 20, 2016at 11:20 am

Great article!

Would you know “a deal breaker / a must have” for those generations with regard to accepting a position and staying with an organization? …one crucial element/thing?

Excellent Piece!

Thanks in advance!

Curious 🙂

    Dennis Gilbert

    October 20, 2016at 12:56 pm

    Thanks so much for the compliment. A “deal breaker” is probably very individualized. I believe the bottom line for anyone of any generation is the org. culture. Not every culture is the same, and they shouldn’t be. From my experience if there is a cultural fit people of all generations will be present and tend to stay. There is also more than one way to look at how to approach culture. What are your thoughts, is there a common theme that might be a deal breaker?


      October 20, 2016at 1:19 pm

      Truth. Both parties must be truthful with respect to expectations and fulfillment of expectations.

      But then, how do the generations regard truth and honesty? Can you say?

      I am happy to have found a Generations Expert willing to share generational facts rather than abstract generalized statements.

      I have many Generation Questions to ask. I hope I am not a bother.

      Thank You!

      Curious 🙂

        Dennis Gilbert

        October 20, 2016at 3:46 pm

        Interesting question and not a bother. My initial thought is that honesty is a value and I’m not sure if that value has a basis for variance across the generations. Now I’m curious do you believe honesty is different depending on the generation?


          October 20, 2016at 7:08 pm

          Reading about generations I saw this: “Generation Y appears to have a different set of values and expectations.”

          That was the basis of my question. Made me wonder…


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