Keeping Young Talent: Proven Tips to Retain Gen Z Employees In A Modern Workforce

Coach Sahil
17 March 2023 Employee Management 2 min read

Are you struggling to retain your young, talented Gen Z employees in today’s fast-paced modern workforce? 

You’re not alone! With an increasing number of opportunities available and ever-evolving expectations of what a meaningful career looks like, retaining Gen Z employees can be a major challenge for business owners from all walks of life.

But fear not, because whether you already have a crew that you want to keep around for a while, or you’ve got a bunch of new hires and want to reduce turn-over, we’ve got some proven tips and strategies to help keep your Gen Z employees engaged, motivated, and committed to your organization.

PRO TIP: If you’ve got retention nailed down but having trouble actually finding these young, hungry and qualified candidates for your business, then be sure to check out our previous article: Hiring Young Talent: Proven Tips to Attract Gen Z Employees For Part-Time Positions

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#1: Ditch Email For Internal Communications

Emailing may have been a reliable form of communication, and probably still is, when communicating with clients. But Gen Z’s prefer more instant methods such as texting and messaging apps. 

This doesn’t mean you need to download Snapchat and start going on massively daily streaks. But it does mean using more modern tools.

When we moved to a messenger app, we saw a huge difference in response speed from our staff. Here are the 3 main tools we recommend (pick one): 

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Band App

For both Olivier and I, Slack made the most sense since it has lots of built in automation features and is ubiquitous enough to work with all of our other apps. But feel free to test all of them for a month and ask your team to vote for what they feel is most useful. 

That last point is very important: invest in a tool that your staff wants to use, not the one you want.

#2: Pay your staff (duh)

It should be obvious that your staff should be offered competitive pay per hour. But beyond that, you should also have a clearly laid out promotion structure in place.

Here’s why: According to Tony Robbins, high performing individuals need to believe that they have a compelling future in a company they are working for. Even if your business is just getting started or is “small” by revenue standards, showing them that they have an avenue for growth provides motivation and a level of certainty. 

It showcases that you care about their future, and not just your own.   

Now here’s where most business owners fail when it comes to implementing their promotion structure: they make TIME the primary KPI (key performance indicator). As in, after spending a certain amount of time within the company, a person will receive an additional X amount per hour. 

If this works for your business model, then great. But generally speaking, if you just reward time, they will find ways to waste it. This is not because they are “bad” employees, it’s simply human nature. If I give you 3 hours to complete a task that generally takes one, you will find ways to use all 3 hours without knowing it. It’s called Parkinson’s Law.

Inefficiency will leak into your operations

Might we recommend laying out a more performance-based promotion structure on top of the base pay? 

Something like paying out bonuses when a customer re-register for future sessions because of the great service they received. 

Or handing out bonuses if your staff members actively bring in leads from their circle of friends. 

The KPI you pick will depend on how your business model is structured. But generally speaking, you want to tie the results they produce to the compensation they receive, not just the amount of time they spend. 

When you reward performance, they are incentivized to be efficient.

#3: Pay Your Staff, To Grow Your Staff

There is nothing better than working with your friends – especially if you’re both driven individuals. So start incentivizing current staff members when they bring in qualified applicants that you can hire and grow your team.

By offering a bonus of $100 for each successful referral, you gain access to talented individuals who’ve been vetted by someone you trust.

To ensure that everyone involved gets rewarded fairly, it’s important to attach a three-month grace period where the referred new hire must remain employed in order for the referral bonus to be paid out.

Here’s why this works so well:

  • Gives your current staff members a reason to talk about the job
  • Olivier had a staff member go into her classes and recruit a bunch of people for his business. Not only did they turn out to be some of the best hires for his company, but that girl made over $500!
  • Keeps the idea of referring a potential candidate on top of their mind.
  • If they know you’re always looking to grow the business, it gives them peace of mind that things are headed in the right direction. Not many people want to be part of a sinking ship.

#4: Over-Communicate With Your Clients (So Your Staff Don’t Have To)

While there are some people who love to take on additional challenges, most of your staff members simply want to do the primary job they were hired to do.

So if you’re hiring coaches, the last thing they want to do is be burdened by administrative work. These things take the fun away from being a coach.

And the best way to avoid administrative work is to set up proper systems and ensure that client-side communication is clear and frequent. Everything from waivers, registrations to even promoting the next session should be handled by your software system and managed by either yourself or a dedicated Manager. 

When you over communicate with your clients, they will know exactly what to expect, have all their administrative questions answered so they too can simply enjoy the services you provide.

Consider sending out an email at the start of every session, collecting digital waivers in advance and being very clear with participants what they should expect. You could even hold parent Q&A through social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram!

If you’d like to know how Activity Messenger can handle all of your administrative tasks so you can focus on doing the work you love, click here to book a demo

#5: Don’t Be Afraid To Spend Money On Your Staff

Investing back into your staff is not only a good idea, it is essential. Not only does it help to retain and motivate employees, but it also helps with referrals for new staff members. 

While taking them out for meals and activities is a great start, there are many other ways to show your staff that you value their contribution. 

Here’s a brief list of things that have been proven to work: 

  • Industry specific training (ask your staff where they are struggling and where they need the most help. Then hire an expert to come in and provide this training.)
  • Team bonding games (put cash prizes and other goodies on the line if your staff enjoy being competitive)
  • Escape rooms
  • Go karting
  • Attend a seminar or retreat (pay for their flight and/or accommodation)
  • Attend a sporting event (try visiting a few non-traditional sports; it’s fun to try something different)
  • Buy them copies of books that are useful, and then have a mini “book club” session where everyone discusses the ideas inside.
  • Spend money on toys that improve quality of life (does your staff run on coffee to get them through the day? Invest in a really good coffee machine)
  • Take them out to a spa retreat (nothing is better than some R&R)
  • Game night (board games & video games)

To illustrate this point, let me give you an extreme example: I visited Nvidia’s new office building in San Jose, California late last year. As a small-time share holder in the company, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 

And let me tell you, the fuss definitely lived up to the hype. Not only is the new building an architectural wonder with amazing amenities, but there was one distinct perk that really stood out to me: They’ve got automated coffee makers (worth $15,000 each) on every level. 

It was one of the best tasting cups of coffee I’ve ever had (that was not made by human hands).

There was literally no good reason why you’d want to work from anywhere else – home or otherwise. Just walking around the place made you want to work on something meaningful.  

And while small businesses like ours can’t (and shouldn’t) try and compete at that level, it does give you a glimpse into what Big Tech companies are doing and most importantly, why they are investing back into their employee’s environment.

This isn’t by accident. They are a business, so every decision is made for a reason.

Business Insider had a great article about why Gen Z actually hates working from home. We highly suggest you check it out.

Bottom line? Do what you can to make your workplace as welcoming and inviting as possible, even if you have to do it gradually over a period of months / years. 

Your staff will notice, trust us!

#6: Be Flexible... But Not Too Much

While it’s important to be accommodating with requests for time off, it is equally important to be firm about last-minute absences. Maintaining such a balance between being flexible and strict when managing staff lets them know that you have standards and values, but are also human. 

And executing this properly comes down to how their contract and/or agreement is structured. If your absence and time off policies aren’t in writing and easily accessible, you have no one else to blame but yourself when conflicts start to arise.

So make sure every employee has not only read these policies, but get them to “sign off” on them by sending out a simple Online Contract or Form.

This helps ensure that the team remains productive and encourages employees who are always present at work. Without such a policy in place, employees may take advantage of the situation by taking days off whenever they please, thus decreasing morale among those who regularly show up for their shifts.

#7: “Open Door Policies” Are So Last Decade

Allow us to ask you a quick question: If one of your staff members comes up with an idea that may or may not improve the business, is there an avenue for them to present this idea to you?

Or what if they notice something that truly bothers them, are they able to express this situation with you, or will they resort to venting to their colleagues? 

If your answer is: “Well they know they can always just talk to me”, then this is not good enough. 

That’s because according to research done by best selling author Simon Sinek, Gen Z’s have a very low tolerance for confrontation and aren’t well equipped to deal with anxiety. So instead, they will simply take an action that they feel serves them best with minimal friction (i.e quitting instead of coming to talk to you).

I understand we are painting an entire generation with a very broad brush here, and that exceptions will exist. But on the whole, you will find the above mentioned statement quite true. 

So what’s the solution? 

Every month or quarter, send out an anonymous survey where your staff members have the psychological safety of expressing their ideas, thoughts and even frustrations about their job. In this anonymous survey, you may create an optional text field where they can include their name, if they wish. 

This is the only way to really get them to open up. If you schedule in-person or Zoom meetings, they will inevitably hold back a few things in order not to “rock the boat”. 

If you’d like to see an example of an anonymous feedback form, click the link below. We can even help you set one up for your organization in a matter of minutes!

#8: Stop Bossing And Start Leading

Whether it was vacuuming the floors, cleaning toilets, doing renovations, working spreadsheets, or handling customers over the phone, when it came to running my sports facility alongside my co-owner, we did it all. 

No job or task was “beneath us.” 

You may hear business “experts” tout all sorts of cliche terms such as: “work on your business, not in your business.” 

I’m telling you that this doesn’t apply very well to small businesses with a tight crew; especially one that is filled with hungry Gen Z staff. 

If you want to get the absolute best out of your staff, you are going to have to show that you are “with them” in the trenches. Take a look at the timeless image below; it illustrates our point better than our ability with words every could.

It’s why when I visit gyms to run Staff Training clinics, I pick on the gym owners during group activities and get them involved. Not only because I know they will enjoy it, but I know it sets the right precedent with their younger staff… who are very much paying attention!

Now, this doesn’t mean you should refrain from hiring out your weaknesses and wear 15 hats when you don’t have to.

It doesn’t mean you should hold back from increasing your staffing crew to do less important jobs so you can focus on growing the business.

And it also doesn’t mean that you need to stop being a “boss” – especially when it’s time to make boss-level decisions. 

It just means that every once in a while, you get your hands dirty with stuff that they know a boss doesn’t need to do, but does it anyway.

It means you stay grounded and don’t put yourself on some pedestal. 

That’s the difference. 

And just in case you have doubts or don’t quite believe us, we challenge you to ask all of your staff members to read point #8 and see if they agree.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, we sincerely hope these eight tips will help you retain your amazing crew and bring them closer together to achieve big things. 

Oh and be sure to click the button below to schedule a Free demo to see how Activity Messenger can help you run your organization with more efficiency, increase revenue and claim back hours of your time every week! 

PRO TIP: If you’ve got retention nailed down but having trouble actually finding these young, hungry and qualified candidates for your business, then be sure to check out our previous article: Hiring Young Talent: Proven Tips to Attract Gen Z Employees For Part-Time Positions

Written by Coach Sahil Coach Sahil is a Certified Gymnastics Coach out of Canada and the founder of Addicted To Tumbling and — two influential resources that have become the "go-to" destination for coaches, athletes & parents around the World. As a former co-owner of a gym, he was able to constantly refine and update his coaching methods to ensure his athletes made progress in their tumbling quickly and safely, without sacrificing technique or getting mental blocks. He also travels the World providing top notch staff training. Many coaches have been able to use his methods to grow successful tumbling programs in their own right. If you're interested in working with Coach Sahil, please see the links below:

Clinics & Staff Training:
Instagram: @addictedtotumbling
Email: info [at] tumblingcoach [dot] com

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