A new study by scientists at Harvard has found that the air quality inside an office can have a significant impact on employees' cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus
A new study by scientists at Harvard has found that the air quality inside an office can have a significant impact on employees' cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus AFP / Nikolay DOYCHINOV

Attracting and retaining young workers is the ultimate source of competitive advantage for almost every corporation in every sector. They bring in the skills, the energy, and the drive to venture to new markets and develop new products and business models to address emerging industry trends and opportunities.

What does it take to bring young workers abroad to the corporate ship and keep them happy so they won't jump ship? Experts are divided. Some see creating a purpose, a social cause, as the critical factor for recruiting and retaining young workers.

" One major factor to retaining young workers is that they need to feel that the work they are doing is serving a greater purpose," Andy Karesa, Founder & Principal at Karesa Consulting, told International Business Times.

Work should let young people "examine life," as a great philosopher Socrates would have put it.

"Millennials and Gen Z generally approach business from a socially responsible perspective, so employers need to ensure that their business does more to support the greater good," adds Karesa. "An employer can pay well and give them a fast track to promotion, but likely if the overall societal impact of their work is low, the young worker won't stay."

Other experts see creating an environment conducive to career development as critical. "Young workers are increasingly prioritizing training and development, and they want to feel supported and encouraged at work to climb the ranks,” Rowan O'Grady, President of Americas for Frank Recruitment Group, told International Business Times. "So, find out what career aspirations your workers have, and develop a plan of action together to reach each stage of their goals, making sure you include any relevant targets they need to hit, too."

Sean Behr, the CEO of hiring technology company Fountain, provides further insight into the importance of a career path for retaining young workers. "As younger workers enter the workforce, they naturally look for entry-level positions to gain experience," he told International Business Times. "One way to retain teen employees is by creating clear career paths at your company. Make it clear to teens that while they may be in a more junior role, there will be opportunities down the line to take on more responsibilities, like managing a team."

"Find out what their passion is," adds Marie Cosgrove, CEO of Balanceback. "Many employers don't ask or don't care. For instance, I found out one of my young engineer's passions is to travel the world," she told International Business Times. "How did this help? I incorporated his job duties to do on-site installations of equipment to give him the ability to travel internationally. We coordinate by booking his training on Mondays, Fridays or before a big Holiday. As a single guy, he can take advantage of the extra days he has in a new area to explore."

"Young workers want to be in cultures where they can be their authentic selves, create, and grow their craft," Pamela Mattsson, SVP, People & Organizational Development at Outreach, told International Business Times. "They want to be better at what they do, and as human beings, they have choices and very little tolerance for top-down incongruent organizations that try to command and control them. The acceleration of remote and multigenerational workforces also means that the ability to connect and inspire is as essential as the ability to execute. "

Then a third group of experts sees the creation of an environment that allows young workers to serve a higher purpose and develop a career by supplementing each other. "The best talent—as always—gets motivated by the opportunity to do meaningful, challenging work that will help them grow," Matt Hoffman, Partner and Head of Talent at venture capital firm M13," told International Business Times.

The bottom line: Attracting and retaining young workers is not just coming up with the right financial incentives. It's about setting up the proper organizational structure, which will allow young people to excel in pursuing their passion and have a career in the process.

Office workers are seen at a largely empty central business district as Singapore returns to the work-from-home regime due to surging cases in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 27, 2021.
Office workers are seen at a largely empty central business district as Singapore returns to the work-from-home regime due to surging cases in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore September 27, 2021. Reuters / Edgar Su
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