By Amy Gray
March 23, 2023

The great resignation has been a wake-up call in the world of work, with organisations grappling with the realisation that even in a digital age, people really are still first. Many organisations have been left with a diminishing talent pool (especially Millennial and Gen-Z staff) and no way of plugging the leak. Why is this happening, and what can we as leaders, managers, and employers do about it?

In October, 2021 the New York Times reported that the three-month period of June—August saw 12,1 million Americans quit their jobs, the majority of which were Millennial and Gen-Z (Bruner, 2021). In South Africa, Remchannel, Old Mutual’s reward management platform, reported a spike in resignations in 2021, with more than 36% of all terminations being due to voluntary resignation (Daniel, 2022).

The reason? Toxic cultures and a lack of learning opportunities. In the book, HR: The New Agenda, editor, Paul Norman (Group Chief Human Resources Officer at MTN), states: “Organisations with healthy cultures are likely to retain their Gen Z employees by a factor of as much as 16 times as companies without healthy cultures.”

Part of these healthy cultures are coaching and investing in younger staff. When asked what would make them quit their jobs — 20 percent of those born between 1982 and 2000 (Gen Y, or Millennials) and 27 percent of those born between 2001 and 2019 (Gen Z) said “not feeling like I am learning” would make them quit (YPulse, 2021).

How do we fix this? Dr Mark Bussin offers a few key guiding principles for retaining staff in his book, Retention Strategies: The key to attracting and retaining excellent employees. Briefly, these are:

  • Having a strong leadership brand,
  • revitalising the organisational values and
  • building an coaching and investment culture

In short, staff retention will continue to be a challenge for organisations. It is imperative to invest in your culture, staff development, leadership, values and mentorship for those who wish to win in the looming war for talent.

Hopefully this overview of the staff retention crisis has shed some light on why your younger staff are leaving, and what you can do to make them stay.

For opportunities to invest in your entry level employees, have a look at the Young HR Professional Conference 2023 and the Young Learning and Development Professional Seminar 2023.

For more resources on staff retention, take a look and our published books HERE.

Bruner, R., 2021. Young People Are Leaving Their Jobs in Record Numbers—And Not Going Back. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov 2022].

Daniel, L., 2022. More South Africans are resigning – and not just for better pay nowadays. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Nov 2022].