Hang on to your grads!
Following on from Soraya’s post on first bouncers, I thought I’d share some thoughts from a different angle – how can you keep hold of your graduate employees at the crucial 1-2 year stage?
Of course, Generation Y’s appetite for a change of scene can be hard to satisfy, but I think there are a few strategies for reducing churn. These can apply whether you’re an international FMCG company with grads finishing rotations around the country and wondering what to do next, or a small communications firm trying to keep your junior executives entertained. The question is essentially one of visibility. A major reason for graduates wanting to leave their first job is that they simply can’t see what the future for them will be beyond their immediate role. I sense that in many cases, it’s not that there are no opportunities for progression or development – it’s just that these aren’t being clearly communicated. How can you increase their responsibilities over the next eighteen months? Here are a few ideas:
Are you planning on hiring a more junior team member to assist you? Could your grad manage them? They might need guidance or training on that, but for many people, management skills are an important part of their ideal ‘business toolkit’.
Are there any new business ventures on the horizon, whether new product lines, or entering overseas markets? Could they take ownership of any element of that? It’s exciting to feel you’re an important part of a growing business.
Does your grad have any talents that aren’t currently being put to use? Could they rewrite your website? Are they an Excel whizz? Could they research a topic relevant to your business (market trends, competitor analysis) and present on that to other team members? Grads love to feel intellectually challenged – and useful!
Can you offer them further training on an area relevant to their role, whether internally or externally? An overwhelming majority say that personal development, whether on analytical skills, sales training or public speaking, is important to them. It’s also encouraging to feel your employer is investing in you.
Let them know about your plans for them, whether as part of your company’s review process or in a more informal setting. Listen to their views – they might actually have some fresh ideas you can put to use. Set realistic timetables for bringing these ideas to life – and stick to them. And finally, most graduates will expect a significant increase in responsibility to be mirrored in a salary uplift. Think about what you can offer them as they enter ‘second job’ phase, bringing a wider range of skills to the table than they did as a fresh grad. This should reap dividends as they start thinking about a longer term career with you.