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Gen Z exodus highlights need for revamped retention strategies

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

With more Gen Z staff prepared to quit their jobs in the next two years, business leaders are encouraged to explore ways to retain this key talent pool.

Gen Z is the future of the workforce. With many only just entering the workforce, employers may struggle to understand and cater for the younger generation.

According to Employment Hero’s Gen Z In The Workplace Report, three-quarters of Gen Z workers plan to leave their job in the next two years, and almost half within one year.


Harnessing neuroscience could be the key to engaging and retaining these younger workers, said CU Health founder Dr Patrick Aouad.

Dr Aouad listed three neurological factors influencing the decisions made by Gen Z:

  1. Underdeveloped prefrontal cortex: The prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision making and impulse control, is still developing in Gen Z individuals. Consequently, they may exhibit heightened impulsivity and limited risk assessment capabilities.
  2. Digital immersion and the dopamine-reward system: Growing up immersed in a digital world, Gen Z’s brains have adapted to a constant influx of highly engaging stimuli, particularly through social media platforms. This immersion has unregulated their brain’s dopamine-reward system, resulting in decreased attention spans and a preference for instant gratification over long-term goals.
  3. Pandemic and digital interaction: A significant proportion of Gen Z commenced their working life during the pandemic, relying heavily on digital devices for interaction rather than face-to-face communication. As the world gradually returns to normalcy, re-establishing social interactions may lead to increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which can impact social comfort and overall engagement.

These are all factors that should be taken into consideration when implementing a policy that affects Gen Z workers.

Outside stresses such as the cost of living, rising inflation, an uneasy job market, and the rental market compound issues, meaning support may be crucial to retention and engagement.

Dr Aouad listed three crucial areas of support businesses can offer that will help to keep younger workers satisfied and stress-free:

  1. Cultivating a sense of belonging and culture
  2. Empowering financial wellbeing
  3. Fostering psychological safety and open dialogue

Understanding how neuroscience plays a role in the behaviour of younger workers is key to implementing effective policy.

Minimising psychosocial hazards can also be an effective way to engage and retain employees of all ages.

Dr Aouad said to HR Leader previously: “Psychosocial hazards in the workplace relate to anything organisational or structural in a business that impact the ability for employees to feel mentally safe and psychologically safe.”

“Those psychosocial hazards might be for organisational structure and decision-making processes that lead to micromanagement that leads to unrealistic deadlines that don’t value or demonstrate value or acknowledge the value of employees.”

He added: “All people that work want clarity over their role. They want some autonomy over their role. They want guidance and support without micromanagement. And I think that if you don’t have structures in place that enable that or support that, then we’re constantly going to be faced with psychosocial hazards that lead people to feel anxious and uncertain.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.