With college graduation season upon us, the next wave of young workers is about to hit the job market in huge numbers. During the 2017-18 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 1 million associate degrees, 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees and 973,000 advanced degrees, the National Center For Education Statistics says — a significant jump from even a decade ago.
Millennials now make up the largest generation of the U.S. workforce, and Gen Z is cusping right behind them, and these workers are both untethered from long-term employment and more inclined to work for companies with dynamic cultures and a dedication to professional development.
Such massive changes in demographics and culture mean companies are taking new approaches to recruiting and retaining top young talent. The most successful organizations have first understood that the relationship between employer and employee is in the midst of a major reconfiguration. They’ve also been willing to make a concerted effort to implement strategies that will attract and retain the new generation of workers.
Here are five ways to attract new college graduates to your organization and keep them engaged and successful once they’re a part of your team.
Stand for Something
New graduates are increasingly looking for a company to work with, not for, which is somewhat of a departure from previous generations. At the top of the list are a positive work environment and an organization that demonstrates responsibility and a dedication to adding value to the world.
A 2016 Deloitte survey of millennial workers found that nearly 90 percent believed that “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.” The young workers surveyed also named employee satisfaction and customer care, a solid foundation of trust and integrity, and social responsibility as top drivers for how they felt about a company.
Help Them Learn About the Company
One of the best ways to attract candidates and help them learn about your company is to encourage them to talk to people who already work there. Setting up informal meetings between candidates and your team members can help prospective employees get to know the company and what it’s like to work for the organization.
These informal discussions can also allow candidates to understand more quickly if they are a good fit for the company — which will lead to a greater likelihood of success in the event they join your team.
Offer Attractive Benefits and Flexibility
Younger workers favor companies that offer benefits such as health club memberships, but other holistic wellness benefits are also increasingly popular. These can include stress-management initiatives, yoga classes, wearable fitness trackers or mental health services.
Flexible schedules, generous paid time off and attention to work-life balance are all important factors for younger workers as well.
Focus on Development Early
If you want new employees to stick around and add value to your organization, you need to offer them ways to grow professionally and learn. When employees see the company is investing in their future, they’re more likely to be engaged and to stay rather than looking for better opportunities elsewhere. These days high-performing companies enable their young leaders to learn on the job and promote them at a faster rate than in the past.
Making sure you have an effective onboarding process that prepares new hires for their day-to-day work via trainings and that connects them with mentors within your organization is a good start, but professional development shouldn’t stop there. It’s important to give new hires regular feedback and also the opportunities to discuss and explore their own interests and aspirations. Then use that information in a proactive way to help them improve and better understand their own strengths, which can ultimately allow them to feel like they’re in a position to advance their career — which is consistently the top reason young workers stay with a company.
Keep Your Promises
Companies are often smart enough to know what they need to offer candidates to attract talent, but they don’t always follow through. It’s common for a recruiter or hiring manager to make promises to a young candidate that the organization is simply not equipped to deliver on.
We can quickly disillusion new workers and wonder why they’re not engaged or why they move on. Don’t dangle something in front of a job candidate if you’re not prepared to deliver in the future — or if you’re not certain your organization has the capacity to actually make it happen.
The wave of next gen workers is already upon us, and with the 2018 crop of college graduates that trend is only accelerating. It’s time for your organization to adapt in order to attract and retain this new talent.
Success Labs is a full-service, strategic organizational and leadership development company located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.