Keep up with Gen Y to keep them thriving in your organisation

Keep up with Gen Y to keep them thriving in your organisation

Millennials have become the lifeblood of most organisations now that they are becoming the biggest proportion in the workforce. Regardless of the business you are in, this trend is unstoppable and it requires great understanding to develop and apply the special strategies needed to attract, develop and retain people from the new generation.

We all agree that each generation has its own unique characteristics and personalities. These differences reflect the times in which they came of age and the way they were raised, and so their requirements, needs and preferences in life vary from one generation to another.

Looking at organisations today, most HR practitioners and chief executives are typically not from Generation Y, as Millennials are also known. This is why organisations need to step up their games by studying younger workers more closely; otherwise they might eventually risk losing a large chunk of their workforce. 

APMGroup conducted a survey asking more than 40 leading public and private organisations in Thailand how they are dealing with the Gen Y challenge. The answers we received were not surprising: 65% said they were struggling with retention.

Also, in a recent survey of Millennials’ attitudes, 44% said that given the choice, they expected to leave their current employers in the next two years. The figure increases to 66% when the timeframe is extended to 2020. 

Simply put, whether or not your Gen Y workers are happy with their current jobs, they will leave after a few years to gain more diverse experiences. This comes off as no surprise as Gen Y are known to be collectors of experiences, and this desire plays a vital role in influencing their behaviour and motivations.

Moreover, issues such as work/life balance, the desire for flexibility and a different perspective on business values also influence Millennials’ opinions and behaviour. They appear to be guided by strong values at all stages in their careers, which can be seen in the employers they choose and the assignments they are willing to accept. 

They seek employers with similar values to the ones they hold strongly, and they expect an organisational purpose that goes beyond financial success, while remaining true to their values and opportunities for professional development. 

In detail, they want to work for organisations that focus not only on having the most innovative and profitable products or services, but ones that also focus on improving the skills and satisfaction levels of employees. Therefore, organisations with a strong sense of purpose — creating jobs and offering goods and services with a positive impact on people’s lives — will certainly achieve long-term sustainable success while others that do not are at risk.

Given the aggressive war for talent, the competitive labour market and the digital world we’re living in, myriad job opportunities to attract the new generation are just one click away; thus, it is not that hard for most Gen Y workers looking for a change to find new challenges in happier environments, with a flexible culture and higher income.

For this reason, I am certain that many companies are asking how much time and energy they should devote to retaining Gen Y workers if they’re going to leave anyway. My response is that since you now rely on Gen Y as the core of your workforce, instead of merely investing on retaining the new generation, wouldn’t it be better to focus on maximising their performance and potential during their (rather short) stay with your organisation?

In fact, Millennials can be extremely productive within a short period of time if we utilise their rapid learning curve together with their goal alignment, values, trust and two-way communication through informal coaching. In this sense, they can certainly outperform their hidden potential and generate a higher return on investment once you create a friendly atmosphere and prove to them that you genuinely want to help them shine as who they are. 

In short, your organisation would surely be able to reap benefits from Gen Y’s potential once you understand their characteristics, needs and behaviours. Then you can design your strategy accordingly. It should provide opportunities for leadership development, encourage a work/life balance, offer flexibility that allows them to work where they are productive and gives them more control over their careers, while fostering a culture that encourages open communication and inclusiveness.

Many Millennials change their jobs because they feel their new jobs will give them more fulfillment. By providing the fulfillment they need, you’ll keep your Millennial with you for years to come.


Arinya Talerngsri is Group Managing Director at APMGroup, Thailand's leading Organisation and People Development Consultancy. She can be reached by e-mail at or 

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