Start at the Top to Retain Millennial and Gen Z Talent

December 1, 2022

CLAREMONT, CA—Leaders play a critical role in attracting and retaining skilled talent, which is especially true during periods of talent shortages, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC). Many managers waste time complaining about Millennial and Gen Z behaviors, instead of looking at how their own actions impact their teams, and focusing on developing a healthy company culture to keep the best young talent.

The Talent Pivot that Businesses Need to Thrive

“People leave people, not companies,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known as the Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain™. “Instead of recruiting, figure out how to attract your stars and the rest will follow.

“Stars expect leaders to deal with poor performers, provide interesting work and opportunities, care, and have high expectations. Companies with superior leaders retain their stars and are better at attracting key employees. In addition, younger generations expect significantly more flexibility and short text communications. Businesses will have to pivot to thrive,” she adds.

Younger Talent Responds Positively to Character and Competence

“Millennials and Gen Z are the same as any other generation. Skilled workers in every generation want the same thing—honest and forward-looking senior managers,” points out Steven Hunt, founder of Steven Hunt & Associates, and an expert advisor to top management on how to close the gap between strategy formulation and implementation in global companies.

“The big change is that younger talent doesn’t stick around if senior managers fail to deliver,” he adds. “Loyalty wavers when the company culture is toxic.

“To win over and keep talent,” Hunt says, “top managers need character more than charisma. That’s leadership with backbone, principles, and substance. Forget the charm offensives. Drop the addiction to flash-in-the-pan ideas. Companies need to prioritize having competent managers at the top, not confidence-tricksters or, worse, narcissists and damaged egos. Get the culture right and talent retention follows.” 

Listen More and Hold off on Making False Judgements

“In order to attract the best Millennial and Gen Z talent, promote your employer brand with a strong social media presence and careers page. Make sure you clearly communicate the values, purpose, and culture of your company.” says Dr. Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist and executive coach.

“Listen closely to what they say, and refrain from making judgments about their ideas, values, and behaviors,” explains Dr. Brusman, “They often do things differently, and may have different values and perspectives on their future.

“To win the hearts of younger workers, companies and employers must highlight their efforts to be good global citizens,” Dr. Brusman. “Actions speak louder than as sustainability, climate change, and diversity.”

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Generational suspicion and distrust has been with us since at least the days of Socrates, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic firm marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.

“Today’s more seasoned managers need to remember they, too, were once in the position of not fitting in with their older leaders,” Popky says. “The crucial difference today is the technology that not only offers many more ways to communicate, but provides a platform for anyone with a mobile device to tell the world exactly what they think at that moment.

“The key to success is to not focus on what’s different, but to identify where the commonalities are,” she adds. “People of all generations want to feel part of the team and appreciated for their contribution. The question is how to do that effectively with team members of diverse backgrounds and talents.

The Right Question for Today’s Talent

“You have to ask the right question first: Does the talent have to be replaced?” said SAC Founder Alan Weiss, PhD. “Don’t mindlessly replace people who were doing yesterday’s work for tomorrow’s needs.”

About SAC

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is the premier association for independent consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide significant consulting results among their clients. Founded by Million Dollar Consulting guru Alan Weiss in 2003, SAC offers a series of in-person and online programs to help consultants share best practices and learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the business world. SAC today has members in 14 countries around the world. For more information, go to, email, or call (909) 563-1803.