The 5 Golden Keys To Unlocking Loyalty and Productivity In GenYers!


The other day I was in the office of a business owner in the advertising industry. The office was very cool with it’s color schemes and fancy lighting. The big overstuffed chairs were so inviting in the open space created to nurture collaboration and community. Man, this place was a magnet for GenYers! But that’s why I was there; this guy couldn’t hang on to his cool, hip employees once he had hooked them with all the right bells and whistles. 85% of his employees were between the ages of 20 and 33 and he had discovered how to “attract them” but hadn’t cracked the code for how to “engage and retain” them.

While sipping on oversized cups of mocha cappuccino on the black leather sofa, he lamented to me that he felt like he always had to “baby” them to get them to produce for him. I quickly interjected, “It’s not babying them, but PARENTING them that will get them to become loyal to you and get them to be willing to give you their secret powers and energy”. He gave me a quizzical look then exclaimed, “Clay, I’m not married, I don’t have kids and don’t plan on having kids. I’m not interested in parenting anyone!” “Then”, I replied, “you will always struggle capturing the loyalty of these GenY employees and unlocking the storehouses of wealth in their creativity and passion for your company.”

That got his attention and opened up an hour-long conversation on how to be a “Parenting Boss”.

I used to be the CEO of a non-profit company that relied heavily on customer service and the quality of the direct interaction between my employees and our clients. Over a seven-year period, my company moved from having ONLY ONE staff person that had been with us for more than nine months to having 14 consistently with us for 3 years! This includes 7 that have been with us for OVER 5 YEARS! You can imagine what it is like to operate a company like ours with over half of your staff not only veterans but being seasoned veterans! AND ALL OF THESE WERE UNDER 25 YEARS OLD!!!

We made a huge shift in our staff from having over a 65% turnover rate to having less than 5%! Can you imagine what it would be like to only be hiring 1 new employee a year rather than 20? And the benefits of having such a low turnover range from having a large group of veterans to teach and support your “newbys” to having strong, seasoned leaders in the midst of a crisis (and we always seem to have a crisis pop up)! There is also a great financial benefit to having such a low turn over! All studies are showing that the COST OF REPLACING JUST ONE MINIMUM WAGE EMPLOYEE IS AROUND $3,500!!

So, the question is… HOW DID WE DO IT?

We discovered that there are 5 key questions that we need to be able to adequately answer as a company for every person wanting to work for us. Oh, and did I mentioned that WE DON’T EVENT PAY OUR STAFF UNTIL THEY’VE BEEN WITH US FOR A TRIAL TIME!!! And they keep coming back! In 2011 we had 10% of our staff that had been with us for over 7 years! In 2013, we had 100% of our staff had been with us for over 4 years! We didn’t have to hire anyone from the outside!! This totally changed the landscape of our culture and our potential to create the best product for our clients in that individual connection so vital to our company.

Here are the 5 GOLDEN KEY’S that you MUST use with your GenYers to UNLOCK their loyalty and CRACK THE CODE OF THEIR PRODUCTIVITY

  1. Skill Development – these are hard job skills they’ll use to get a job and do the job as well as the soft skills of communication, problem solving and leadership. Do you provide this opportunity for them to enhance and develop these hard and soft skills?
  2. Marketplace Positioning – this is simply positioning them to be “hireable” by a larger company. Do you prepare them for “their future” or are you more interested in using them for “your now”? Do you provide opportunities for them to collaborate and network with other companies and industries?
  3. Financial Sustainability – this is about them learning how to manage their paycheck as well as engaging their energy and creativity to create extra revenue streams to your company. How can they increase their take home pay through creating increased profits for your company? Do you provide any kind of financial planning or education for them? The alternative is they become totally reliant on you giving them a (growing) paycheck every two weeks! Good luck with that.
  4. Personal Development – discovering their identity, their life purpose, their strengths and weaknesses. Does your company provide intentional resources for personal growth (beyond books in the a company library that resides in the basement)? These are resources to help them become better people, not just better workers.
  5. Servant Leadership – a vital ingredient of discovering their place in the bigger picture of life. Too often we see the universe revolving around “us”. To be great in life, they must learn how to be a servant and have compassion for others. Does your company provide “community outreach” opportunities for your employees to represent your company while interacting with solving problems in your community?

So, with all the OPTIONS out there for our employees, WE DECIDED TO SET OUR COMPANY APART FROM ALL THE OTHERS! It took some time, but it paid off… and then some!! To work for us is much more than a job. Working for us is a chance to prepare for your future success wherever you go! As a result, we have found that these people don’t “go”, they “stay” and continue to provide great service and tremendous depth to our company as well as allowing us to focus on our business rather than on the annoyance of employee turnover that continued to drain our momentum and energy!!

Are you just looking for employees to work FOR you or are you looking for partners to work WITH you in your business and make a ton of money?


What if you were to begin recruiting like this? We did, and we determined it made the difference of almost $500,000 over a six year period in employee wages and losses!! It pays to have the RIGHT people in place!

Ultimately, loyalty and productivity begins and ends with managers. Although even world-class managers can’t inspire every worker, with the right leadership and a concerted effort, most workers can become fully satisfied with their jobs. But it takes more than a paycheck! The paycheck alone, won’t buy their loyalty.

Gallup has identified the following 12 items — the Gallup Q12 — that consistently describe great workplaces:

• I know what is expected of me at work.

• I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

• At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

• In the last seven days, I have received recognition and praise for doing good work.

• My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

• There is someone at work who encourages my development.

• At work, my opinions seem to count.

• The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.

• My associates (fellow employees) are committed to doing quality work.

• I have a best friend at work.

• In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

• This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

For more information:

3 Reasons Why College Grads Aren’t Hireable


Clay Staires