Graduates have got a bad name as being ‘flaky job hoppers’, but is it a justified criticism? 🐸
There’s no denying that many new junior hires leave their positions in their first year and it’s a real problem for employers when that happens. At DigitalGrads it’s a problem we are very keen on address head-on to see what we can do as an industry to improve job retention amongst our younger workforce.
So you’ve spent time and money on your hiring process, maybe paying a recruiter a chunky fee and you’ve spent oodles of time training up your new recruit only for them to hand in their notice before the year is up.
Why? Is it the company culture? Are they not enjoying the position? Is it the work? We often hear employers lamenting that this didn’t happen years ago because people would stick out their first jobs for longer than a year. So if you follow this train of thought it fits that grads get the label as ‘flaky job hunters’.
We think there’s more to it than that, and things are never that black and white.
So, we decided to get to the root of this issue. We asked 3 of our graduate interns why they think young people are likely to leave a position within the first year and what their expectation is now, before they have bagged their first permanent position.
Help them achieve their goals –
‘If I felt like I was going nowhere I might leave the company early. I want to be constantly challenged, improving all the time and seeing the progress I make. I want to achieve my goals, and achieve them fast.’
Do you provide employees with an environment where growth and innovation are encouraged?
New hires are fresh from university and are excited to be joining the world of work. Do you give them adequate opportunities to challenge themselves? Do you provide a workspace where they can question the way things are run? Are their voices heard?
Younger members of staff are rightly asked to do more menial tasks, and shouldn’t be asked to create a company strategy on day one. But our advice is to give juniors a mix of tasks, and get them involved in higher-level business discussions where it’s appropriate so they start to get a real feel for how the company operates, and can start to think about career progression within your organisation.
Offer opportunities for career progression and self-development –
‘I want to have opportunities for career progression and self development and I need to be in an environment where growth and innovation is encouraged – where I’m listened to and asked my opinion.’
Does your company actively offer opportunities for self development? Do you have a per-head training budget? Do you allocate some time each month for learning?
Grads straight out of university know they are green when it comes to industry and practical work. Many grads who come to DigitalGrads have very little practical work experience, and are eager to learn – and they will learn quickly if given the chance.
We recommend providing a plan of what you expect the grad to learn in their first 3-6 months, and give them the time and resources to do it. Invite them to meetings to listen in initially even if they don’t make a contribution, and conduct quarterly job chats where you formally review and record their performance.
With regular meetings, job chats and time allocated for training and learning your new hires will feel valued and likely to stick around for longer.
Can you offer opportunities to grow within the company? The last thing any grad wants is to feel stunted or trapped in an entry-level position.
Do you offer any training courses? As recent grads they’re accustomed to studying and readily learn new things, do you provide routes into further career development?
Offer validation –
‘Validation and praise act as motivating factors as they make us feel appreciated, valued, and acknowledged for our work. No validation can lead to a toxic workplace culture and lead to a lack of interest in the job.
As interns, we are inexperienced and unaware of how the industry works. So any kind of appreciation and validation – even if it’s for the tiniest job – is really motivating.’
This is a really big one. Employees who are given praise when they do well, and timely feedback when they need to improve always perform better. Often it can be a lack of management or bad management that leads to employees leaving an organisation.
Don’t under-estimate just how important regular communication, feedback and listening to your employees is.
Is your workplace culture open for all? –
‘I’d leave if it felt like I was working in a toxic environment. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable asking for help from someone higher up’
Are your employees from a younger generation? Do they participate in ‘post-work gatherings’? Is there a hierarchical divide between new hires and seasoned employees?
Having an effective ‘Onboarding’ procedure is a surefire way to ensure new hires bond with seasoned employees, whilst getting the most out of their position and company culture. With a thorough ‘Onboarding’ procedure there are regular opportunities for validation and self-development.
With that first pay-cheque, comes an element of freedom. Can you afford to offer any perks or benefits? Do your employees have substantial time off, and opportunities to travel?
Exploring the opportunities out there –
‘I think you’re very lucky if the first job you find, is the job you can see yourself in 5 years down the line’
We’ve all been in their shoes. Unfortunately, for the candidate there can be an element of trial and error when finding that ideal first job.
Quite simply, they might leave their job to explore alternative opportunities. If that happens, it’s no fault of yours or your company’s.
Maybe they realised they prefer working for an established company rather than a start-up. Maybe it’s down to location – a long-commute that they hadn’t realised would be quite so taxing. Or maybe they just start doing the job and don’t enjoy it.
The good news is that there are things you can to do mitigate the chance of this happening and it’s all down to running a robust hiring process.
Take the time to explain what working for a tech start-up means, make sure they understand what their journey involves before they accept the offer, and run a task in the interview process that shows them the type of work they will be doing.
The good news is that the younger generation are more aware and will say if they realise the job is not quite right for them. Having candid conversations about role details is a really good idea.
As we mentioned beforehand, this is by no means a comprehensive list of reasons why graduates leave their jobs. This blog came about in response to a rather informal discussion with our interns. However, we thought it might be of some benefit to employees looking to hire grads.
Ultimately, should a new hire or grad leave your company, the easiest thing to do is ask them why to get feedback for next time? Don’t push or pry, but if it is something your company needs to improve on, where’s best to hear it than from someone who’s experienced it firsthand.