22/01/2015

By Julia Lindsay, Joint CEO, the iOpener Institute for People and Performance


The January Blues can be a major headache for employers, as it tends to be a time when staff consider moving on. In fact, more than a third of UK workers are already planning to change jobs at some point in 2015 (1). Factors including low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action combine to provide favourable conditions for job movement among employees. Keeping Generation Y talent is a particular area of concern for management, with a recent study revealing over half of these employees will expect to have moved on from their current employer within two years (2).

Research from the iOpener Institute points to the importance of job satisfaction to Gen Y, showing a strong correlation between fulfilment and the likelihood of quitting. Statistically speaking, job fulfilment (or, rather, lack of it) explains almost 60% of the variance in a Gen Y employee’s desire to leave. The fact is that Gen Y employees are simply not prepared to stay in jobs that make them unhappy. This is a particular wakeup call to managers in January when employee feelings of unhappiness are exacerbated.
So what can managers do to make Gen Y employees happier at work and less susceptible to the effects of the January Blues?

There is strong alignment between Gen Y’s job fulfilment and their feeling that they are doing something worthwhile. Managers would therefore benefit by raising awareness of how their organisation’s products, services and culture has a positive impact the on the world. Providing Gen Y with opportunities to contribute to the community through meaningful work will also help retain them in an organisation.

Gen Y also needs to believe in the strategic direction that their employer is pursuing. Our research shows a correlation between the trust that Gen Y employees have in their leaders’ vision, and their intention to leave the organisation. This highlights the need to regularly and convincingly communicate key points of corporate strategy, along with tangible proof points of how that strategy is being implemented and the contribution it is making to corporate success.

Companies should build pride by giving recognition to employees and colleagues, and ensuring that they spread good news. Creating internal visibility of the impact of the organisation’s work and the benefit it is having is also key, and will tap into the civic-mindedness that typifies Gen Y. Ultimately though, companies must ensure that Generation Y understand the opportunities on offer within the organisation, enabling them to see a path of progression and job fulfilment.

Businesses are recognising that Gen Y—their up and coming management cohort—is different from the previous generations, especially in terms of job mobility. No organization wants to invest in the next generation of management only to find that they leave and destroy return on that investment. So, it is essential to develop strategies that retain Generation Y talent.


(1) City AM, ‘More than a third of UK workers plan to change jobs in 2015 – here are eight reasons way’, http://www.cityam.com/206404/more-third-uk-workers-plan-change-job-2015-here-are-eight-reasons-why, 9 January 2015
(2) HR Zone, ‘What do Generation Y really want?’, http://www.hrzone.com/feature/people/what-do-generation-y-really-want/143844, 9 July 2014