January 13, 2022

How Tech Companies Can Attract and Retain Younger Talent

By Katelyn Castonguay, Sr. Manager, Assurance Services & Michael Castonguay, Director, Assurance Services

How Tech Companies Can Attract and Retain Younger Talent Life Science & Biotech

How can technology companies and startups attract and retain the next generation of workers? It is an age-old question that only became more relevant due to the “The Great Resignation”, after the emergence of COVID-19. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but it’s clear that what motivated employees 10 or 20 years ago isn’t necessarily what motivates younger workers today.

Consider Frederick Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory of Motivation. Herzberg noted that there are two factors that employers can adjust to increase motivation within their workforce: motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators include achievement, growth, advancement, recognition, responsibility, and the work itself. Although hygiene factors do not motivate employees to work harder, they’re necessary for an engaged workforce. Hygiene factors include company policies, security, salary, supervision, working conditions, and coworker relationships.

We recommend reviewing your company’s hygiene factors. Do you offer competitive pay and benefits? Are your supervisors creating a positive work environment for their teams? This is the first step in not only motivating your existing workforce but also retaining and attracting younger talent. The next generation is looking for more than just competitive pay: They want a positive work environment with frequent and extensive collaboration; an employer that offers optimal benefit policies; and more. It is imperative when reviewing your hygiene factors that you consider the current environment without comparing it to what worked in the past. The younger generation loves to hear that the work attire is casual, that the company supports working remotely (even if it’s just once or twice a week), and that it offers flexible work arrangements, snacks in the kitchen, etc. These characteristics alone won’t help you retain your employees, but they will help you attract a workforce. Since these are considered hygiene factors, they need to exist to ensure your employees don’t become dissatisfied.

Additionally, there are motivating factors that result in job satisfaction. Employees are inherently motivated when they are recognized for their work, provided job advancement and growth opportunities, given increased responsibility, and are interested in the work itself. Empowering your employees and creating an environment where they feel like they are in control of their own destiny will help with motivation and retention. If the workforce knows they will be rewarded timely for their hard work, they will feel more satisfied.

The baby boomer generation were mainly motivated by job advancement. However, there has been a shift in motivation in the younger generation. Do not get us wrong: Everyone is still motivated by advancement, but there are other factors that are just as important now. The work itself needs to be interesting or enriching. A lot of millennials want to know their work is having a positive impact. Timely recognition through team celebratory lunches/dinners, early release on a summer Friday, or a companywide email shout-out will keep your employees satisfied.

As we said previously, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for motivating and retaining employees. However, work-life balance, flexible working arrangements, a sense of empowerment, and a strong team environment are important characteristics that the younger workforce looks for in an employer. Competitive pay and benefits also help, but those aren’t the only factors that will retain your younger workforce. To develop the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer needs to be asking what their younger workers want from the workplace.