Engaging Millennial Graduates into your Workforce


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Embarking on your new career can be a daunting prospect, for both you and your employer.

Swapping mid-week parties for a more mundane routine of work, sleep, repeat can be a difficult transition at the best of times. The challenge for businesses is to support their new graduate employees in a smooth transition from university to working life.

The practice of ‘Onboarding,’ defined by Christian Harpelund, as “the discipline of receiving and integrating new employees into the company, so they feel part of the team”, can yield serious rewards for both new employees and their employers by making this transition as seamless as possible.

Graduates come into their new careers as a fresh canvas. They often have less real-world work experience and less self-awareness than their experienced co-workers. However, this should be viewed as a great potential rather than a negative element of hiring graduates. Free from ingrained, unhelpful habits, graduate employees often exhibit a greater willingness for change: they are moldable.

View graduate employees as a box of unassembled lego pieces: with the proper guidance, they can be built up into a solid employee.

Another challenge for employers integrating new graduates into their team is managing the expectations of their new employees. What graduates may expect from their new career can be radically different from reality.

The reality of a first work placement can be far less glamorous than what they imagined during university. The early promise of a pioneering career is replaced with the routine reality of working life. Left unaddressed, unmet expectations can quickly lead to disillusionment, followed by disengagement, benefitting neither the new employee or employer.

Onboarding can help ease new graduates into their new routine

Taking a proactive approach to onboarding allows graduates to genuinely feel part of their new team. Involving graduates in decision-making processes, providing consistent and positive feedback to nurture their development, and offering the potential for progress within the company helps ease graduates into their new career, reducing the potential for cognitive dissonance.

Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results, explains that the millennial generation responds well to encouragement and immediate feedback.” Millennials like to be noticed and nurtured. Positive feedback from a manager goes a long way to managing expectations.

Personalising interactions and feedback with graduates will help ease them into their new life of routine. It is easy to disengage from a task if you do not feel appreciated for doing it. Everyone likes to be noticed and made to feel special. A simple “thank you,” or “great job,” goes a long way to securing higher levels of engagement. Asking graduates how they feel about completing a task, or their role within the team, builds positive relationships.

Allowing graduates to make mistakes, and then learn from them, will benefit both parties.

It is also important to offer graduates the possibility of progressing within the company. Millennials are especially eager to progress within their career. Unlike their Gen X or older co-workers, millennials are less willing to wait for an undisclosed amount of time to be recognised and rewarded for their hard work.

Offering stepping-stones for your graduates to progress will go a long way to retaining them in the future. It is far more cost efficient to nurture talent from within than to suffer the consequences of staff retention and expensive rehire.

A promotion elevates your employee’s loyalty and dedication to your company

A CAP Study found that the average costs to replace an employee are:

  • 16% of annual salary for high-turnover, low-paying jobs (earning under $30,000 a year). For example, the cost to replace a $10/hour retail employee would be $3,328.
  • 20% of annual salary for midrange positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year). For example, the cost to replace a $40k manager would be $8,000.
  • Up to 213% percent of annual salary for highly educated executive positions. For example, the cost to replace a $100k CEO is $213,000.

Dan Epstein, CEo of ReSource Pro, whose staff are 90% Millennial, believes that by developing in-between steps, “managers can meet their desire for career progression,” adding that “it also provides incremental training and experience that will aid them later with larger career advancement opportunities.”

Engage provides an ideal framework for easing your graduate employees into working life.

Using an evidence-based approach, Engage offers a clear coaching framework,providing the graduate  with personalised feedback, and insights around the drivers and barriers to success, highlighting what will unlock their full potential.

To find out more about how to become an Engage Accredited Coach, or how to develop your line manager in the dual role of ‘coach’, take a look at our webinars, or contact us here, or call us on +44 (0)20 3393 2499.   

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