RecruitmentThe Early Careers Retention Challenge

The Early Careers Retention Challenge

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by Dean Callaghan, C. Psychol., Ps.S.I, Managing Director at Aon’s Human Capital Solutions

At one time the lure of a decent pay packet was enough to make school-leavers and young graduates snap up a job offer. Not anymore. Pay still matters, but if it doesn’t come as part of a wider employment package that includes employee wellbeing supports, work-life balance initiatives, career progression opportunities and alignment with personal values, then the under-30s, and the 20- to 25-year-olds, will choose to work somewhere where it does.

Employers who offer more support to graduates at the beginning of their careers, stand a better chance of retaining those employees and keeping them on board.

The expectation of a more holistic approach to employment was accelerated by the pandemic and is particularly strong among younger workers who struggled with the isolation of remote working during the lockdown. The message coming out loud and clear from these post-Millennials since is that they want and need more support at the start of their careers. Employers that recognise this stand a better chance of bringing the next generation of workers on board and retaining them.

Based on our Engaging Early Career Professionals in Ireland report, in partnership with HPC, it is evident that organisations see that early careers programmes are crucial for bringing new skills into the business and attracting top talent, but some organisations are not taking full advantage of their investment in early career individuals and may now need to revisit how they select and develop young talent.

Retention of employees, unsurprisingly, was the top concern for the employers who contributed to the report, discovering that despite having good salary and development packages available for this age group, many employers were not effectively communicating their benefits to potential hires.

Having surveyed companies across 15 industry sectors, employing more than 150,000 people and hiring more than 1,500 university graduates each year, the report highlights six takeaways and four recommendations to organisations to improve early career programmes that take into account future talent strategy goals.

The Key Takeaways include:

  1. Early Career Programmes are viewed as critical to an organisations talent strategy
  2. The critical challenge facing every early career programme is retention
  3. Outdated processes are still being used which negatively impact diversity and quality of hire
  4. Companies are trying to win the race for talent through pay
  5. How organisations present themselves matters
  6. Companies use a wide range of approaches to development, but need to be more selective

Based on these key takeaways, the recommendations to improve early career programmes include:

  1. Understanding what is driving talent to join your organisation
  2. Having a clearly defined employee value proposition
  3. Identifying future skill requirements within the organisation, and aligning them with early career programs
  4. Allocating resources to employee development that will have the biggest impact on those who are just starting their careers

Companies need to make better use of data-driven insights to understand what’s driving the career interests of Gen Z and match them to development opportunities. Old style ‘template’ and ‘best practice’ approaches to employee development may not work best because they don’t necessarily align with what a business needs right now. For example, if you want people to be innovative and curious, you need to put them into real situations where this can happen in a meaningful way, not into a two-day workshop on innovation.

Our research shows that many companies are not integrating the KSA (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) they consider important into their employee training and development programmes. This highlights significant opportunities for improvement and a clear way to accelerate the delivery of critical skills for the future. It’s also important to Integrate these KSA’s into company feedback and formal review processes so that programme participants are constantly nudged about their importance and have an opportunity to discuss them in practice.

To receive and a copy of the Engaging Early Careers Professionals in Ireland report or to learn more about how to recruit and retain early careers talent, contact [email protected]

Dean Callaghan,
Dean Callaghan,
Managing Director at Aon's Human Capital Solutions