Everyone knows that each generation is different from the last. But do you know the retention difference? More importantly, have you implemented changes in your own organization to prepare for the change?

The Retention Difference : Generation to Generation | Episode 82

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast where your host, [Josh Sweeney 00:00:04], will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney: Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcast space. Welcome to season three, which is all about employee retention and company culture. I am joined here by my cohost, Crystal Sweeney.

Crystal Sweeney: Hello. Thank you for having me.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, thanks for hosting. Today’s topic is all about employee retention for each generation, so we’re going to go through some of the generations, or all of the generations that are in the workplace today, and talk about what are some of the challenges that we’re seeing with retaining people from each one of those generations? What’s the impact to the business?

And what we can do to help you ensure that you’re keeping those rockstar talent, that amazing person that’s on your team, no matter which generation that they’re from. So, let’s start from the top. We’re going to go back to the generation that’s still probably the longest standing generation in the current environment, which is the Boomers. What are we seeing with the retention challenges around the boomer generation?

Retention and Boomers

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah. So, the Boomers were … They’re the work horse generation. They’re the ones that like to stay with a company for a lifetime. They want to move up the ladder. They, as far as the industries goes, they have the longest expertise in the knowledge in their field.

So, they’re actually entering retirement, and that could create some problems with some companies. If that expertise and that experience leaves, they’re kind of left with a hole, and they have to try to fill that up with something, with somebody that’s got the same potential to reach that level. So, it may be necessary for them to try to keep those employees on a little bit longer and try to keep them out of retirement as much as they can.

So, there are definitely some ways that you can appeal to the Boomers to try to keep them working.


Josh Sweeney: And what are we seeing for appealing to Boomers to keep that knowledge in house as long as we can possibly make that happen?

Crystal Sweeney: Absolutely. So, with Boomers, a lot of it is just in training. They need to be kept up to speed with some of the things, and the programs, and the processes that are out there. So, if you have the right mentorship program, training program to help them stay up to date with what’s going on, that’s going to help maintain them longer. It’ll just add to their expertise. That’s one way that you can try to retain them.

Health Benefits

And another way is to make sure that your business is able to cater to them a little bit. 60% of the Boomers leave their jobs due to an illness or to a disability. So, with that, it might be health benefits that you can help offer them. That might make them feel a little bit more confident in staying in the workplace.

If it’s making sure that you have … If you have access for disabled, which you have to anyway now, but just make sure that you provide the tools that they need if they are disabled. The ramps if they need that. Any equipment or technologies that they may use to be able to make their disabilities or their illnesses a little bit, it’s easier to overcome in the workplace.

Phase Retirement

And then another thing would be just doing a phase retirement. That’s one thing because you want to kind of prolong them from retiring, so you can help them to phase into retirement instead of them just quitting. What that may look like is, they may have some remote work days to get started. It may mean that they cut their hours back, and they work more part time. And what that can do is just give them a little bit more flexibility they need to get to those doctors appointments, to take care of family members that they’re needing to take care of, their spouses, or themselves.

Using Purpose for Retention

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. And another thing that we’re seeing is the ability to drive a lot of purpose with that generation in that, if they know they’re going to be transitioning out of the organization, giving them additional purpose around being there, which is coaching and mentoring the next generation, Gen Z … Or excuse me. Gen X, Millennial, Gen Z, right? Because then, there’s a lot more of an attachment there to pass that knowledge on, to coach them up, and to help other people learn and grow before they make the transition out of the work environment.

Crystal Sweeney: Absolutely. I mean, I think that that just tells them how important they are to an organization if they’re willing to make some adjustments and changes to accommodate for them to stay.

Generation X

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s a tremendous amount of knowledge over many years that nobody wants to lose. So, what are we seeing with Gen X? So, Gen X’s not really to the point of really looking at the retirement situation just yet, but it’s next in line. So, what are we seeing from a retention perspective with that generation?

Crystal Sweeney: Yes. So, with Generation X.

Josh Sweeney: Oh, sorry. Gen X, yes.


Crystal Sweeney: Yeah, Gen X. They’re a leadership … They’re looking for leadership. So, they’re very independent. Their average tenure is between two and four years, but what they want, they want that independence. So, with the Gen X, what they’re looking for is they want ample pay. I mean, they definitely want to have competitive pay. They want high profile projects that they can work on that makes them feel important, and they also cannot be micromanaged.

They need to be left to their own independence and let them work as they feel necessary to be able to get the job done. So, that’s what’s important to this organization … This generation. They also want recognition. So, they want to know that they’ve done a good job, even though they are independent, they’re still looking for that recognition.


Josh Sweeney: Gotcha. Yeah. I think a lot of people are looking for recognition. I mean, when we look at the personality profiles, recognition is definitely one of the traits that we see at our work rewards. But there are also some increases across generations in certain reinforcement.

The Bridge

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing that I think we need to remember about Generation X is they are the bridge that links the Boomers with the Millennials. So, we have a little bit … And I’m saying “we” because I kind of brought myself into that generation, but they have some of the work traits that come with the Boomer generation, yet they still have some of the work traits that come with the Millennials.

So, they kind of … They bridge the two together. They’re that transition generation that we are looking for to maintain that level of expertise and experience from the Boomers to the Millennials that are currently going into the workforce.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, managing that change.

Crystal Sweeney: Yes. So, you want to make sure that you can retain those employees as long as you can.


Josh Sweeney: Gotcha. So, the next one we have after Gen X is going to be Millennials, which is all the rage these days. What are we seeing from a retention perspective on Millennials?

Crystal Sweeney: So Millennials, their average tenure is about two years. With that is they’re looking for growth. They’re looking for purpose. They want to know that the work that they’re doing matters. So, with this generation, if you don’t want to have that constant turnover, I think it’s going to be incredibly important that you have mentors, leadership training, that growth plan that we talked about in previous episodes.

Make sure that the employee understands, hey, here is your path for growth and this is how you can get there. Because employees who want to stay, they will if you give them the tools that they need to be able to advance. They’re looking for advancement. Nobody wants to stay in a company and not move anywhere. So, that is extremely important with this generation.

Fast Growth

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and if you recall back to previous episodes, I mean, one of the main drivers for that growth is they also have the ability to grow faster just because of what we talked about was the educational training system, right? You have youtome.com. You have … You can take classes from MIT online for free. You have YouTube now, which pretty much … I don’t know if there’s anything you can’t learn on YouTube at this point in time, so they have the ability to grow fast, and you’re seeing a lot of that influx of information align with the ability to grow fast.

And if they can’t make those moves, then it does feel like they want it now, and they’re going to leave to go somewhere else. But what we’re often finding is when they do leave in that two year period to go somewhere else, they’re making a big jump. They’re making a jump into another role that proves, sometimes proves the point.

Goal Oriented

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely. And another thing is because they are looking for growth and purpose, it’s important that companies know what their goals are. You know, what is their purpose? What are … What value are they offering to their employees? It kind of goes back to the core values. What are those core values? And what direction are they heading? And the idea is to almost have to try to sell it to the Millennials of, hey, this is what we’re doing, this is where we’re going, and how we’re growing. We want you to be a part of it. So, they buy into the company. I think that’s very important.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I think there’s a lot more selling that goes on nowadays to those job prospects as well because there’s so many opportunity out there. So many opportunities available. They can switch jobs. They can reinvent themselves overnight. There’s all these different things that are happening. So, instead of just hoping they all come to you, and will work with you through your hiring process, you have to turn it into almost a sales gig to get those people in.

Crystal Sweeney: You do. You have to sell your employees.

Josh Sweeney: Definitely. Sell your employees? Don’t sell your employees.

Crystal Sweeney: Well, you want to keep your employees, but you want to sell to them.

Josh Sweeney: Right. Engage those employment prospects.

Crystal Sweeney: Right.

Gen Z

Josh Sweeney: Alright. So, Gen Z is the last one. We’re still uncovering. They’re still researching Gen Z. I believe the oldest Gen Z are right now somewhere around 24? Is that about right?

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah, they’re young twenties right now.

Josh Sweeney: Got it. And so, what are we seeing from a retention? Are there any themes that we’re seeing from a retention perspective with them just yet?

Retention Discovery

Crystal Sweeney: Not just yet. I mean, they’re just now getting into the workforce, so we can only speculate how long that they’re going to stay at their jobs. The rumor is, is that they’re going to want to stay longer than Millennials because they’re looking for that stability. They’re looking for the stability that maybe their households didn’t have when they were growing up because of the market crashes that we’ve had. So, the idea is hopefully that they will stay longer into a position.


This generation is very entrepreneurial. Everybody with a camera and a YouTube channel is making themselves a sensation, and that’s kind of the idea with this generation. So, they also are great problem solvers. I mean Google is just in their pocket, so if they don’t know something, they’re very quick to just pull out their computer that they have, their phone, and find the answers that they need. And that’s very important to businesses. You want people who will take the initiative to go out there and figure it out, find those answers.

Josh Sweeney: Oh, yeah. I know we deal with that all the time with our boys. It’s, Hey Siri, what’s this about football? Hey Siri, who’s the oldest place kicker in the NFL ever? What are the age differences, right? It’s everything is on demand for them, and they’re used to going and retrieving that information quickly.

Crystal Sweeney: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s right there in their pocket, so may as well utilize it.

What Generations are your Rock Stars?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah. So, what we’d like you to think about is, who are all the rock stars on your team? What generation do they fall into? And what do you need to do in order to adapt to that generation and make sure that you’re retaining your top talent? Thank you.


Speaker 1: Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you’d like us to address or expand on, tweet us at EpicCulture1 or email at podcast@epicculture.co.