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Are you losing too much new talent?

Graduate ceremony

Now is the time for businesses to reconsider how they recruit, manage expectations and develop new talent

As we progress through 2017, HR and recruiting professionals are currently relishing/ grappling/ dreading (or all three) the impending graduate recruitment season.  It is a costly business: in 2014 UK companies spent over £900m to attract the brightest and best university leavers.  But, despite that investment, one in four graduates will leave their first firm within 12 months. In times when margins are tighter than any of us can remember, can you afford to see 25% of your budget go to waste? How can that money be more wisely spent?

Generation Z won’t hang around waiting for you to figure it out

This generation of school and university students have not just got picky but will, without apparent care, dump a prospective employer and turn to a better offer. Many graduate programmes are now starting without their full numbers filled. Last summer 2,200 graduate jobs weren’t filled ‘due to students reneging after accepting an offer.’

Did you know?

One in four graduates leave their first firm within 12 months. That's 25% of your graduate training budget.

The analysts at Hays believe it is something more than just upstarts hedging their bets – Generation Z simply expect a much more rounded work experience.

They feel they deserve it. After all, they paid for their education, invested in their future and they demand more – no longer believing that they should be eternally grateful for a position.  They assume they’ll be on a clear, and upward, career path with concrete goals and outcomes – in terms of challenge and responsibility.  And they want it now, or at least soon. Remember, this is a generation who get frustrated waiting a few seconds for a website to load.

So what can you do better?

For a start you can match your offer to what your graduates want. It isn’t all about the salary on offer. Recent analysis undertaken by Hays Recruitment highlights that graduates prioritise career development, work life balance, their working environment and location, all above their monthly salary. Accenture Strategy identify a similar trend with increasing numbers of graduates deliberately targeting mid-sized organisations, which are perceived to offer a more positive social atmosphere and an increased commitment to social responsibility. 

None of this is breaking news.  In 2004 a survey of 1000 staff asked why people left companies. Of the 15 reasons they gave, inadequate pay came fifth. More important was a sense of achievement, recognition, responsibility and a varied work environment. How does your graduate scheme measure up against these?

  • Get the Work/Life balance right. Working ridiculously long hours and over weekends is a failure of leadership and planning.  Create a more dynamic work environment involving break out areas, relaxation rooms and green space.  Behavioural science research tells that you are more productive, more resilient and a more effective critical thinker if you enjoy regular breaks.  The HR department get this: in 2015 10.4 million workdays were lost to stress.  The culture you set with your new hires is the culture you are setting for the future of the business.
  • Play to their strengths. Given that Generation Z and Y prioritise corporate social responsibilities, get them directly involved in projects from the get go.  These projects will identify talent, enhance creativity and develop a team ethos. Equally the newbies will gradually break into the business whilst also increasing the company’s standing internally and externally.
  • Develop and nurture Leadership at all levels. Create an environment in which your graduates will be stretched, supported and recognised. Use mentors, and good ones.  Find transformational leaders who match the new hires’ energy and drive with acute technical ability, and place these individuals with the new cohort. They are your role models. Like will create like.
  • Have a 14 month Plan. Present a clear pipeline, what needs to be achieved by when and by whom. It should be configured as a development contract between the individual, their mentor and the organisation. Hold the individual accountable and create challenging tasks.  Milestones should be recognised and rewarded. Regarding this milestone, don’t monetise: focus on social relationships and reward in a social manner.  For some new hires cash might still be king, but for the overall graduate population it’s as much about social interaction and personal growth.

None of this is difficult – it just demands a bit of effort

So as you start to induct your new talent, align your programme with their needs and expectations. Remember that they expect to be pushed and stretched, and to work hard. Bear in mind that most worked to fund their study. This is a highly motivated and ambitious generation. It’s just that their ambitions are as much social as they are financial – and the workplace must recognise both.

So, if one in four still reaches for the door, it will not be because of something you failed to consider.

Simon Taylor, Senior Leadership Consultant with Kaplan

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