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How to Hire and Retain Young Workers

It's no secret that hiring is challenging right now. Labor shortages are common, young people anticipate greater starting earnings, and after a company hires and trains a new employee, the likelihood that they will leave for a better-paid position is rapidly increasing. Turnover costs are significant, but they've always been greater than many companies know, and it's undoubtedly hurting your company's bottom line.

What can firms do to improve their hiring and retention of young workers? We spoke with workforce development experts, who assist employers in finding workers and young adults in finding jobs. We asked them what employers can do to promote good, long-term hires. These individuals have experience on both sides of the hiring process and can tell us what works and what doesn't when it comes to employing young workers. Young people filling essential production responsibilities in a variety of jobs, including factories, health care, and administrative service organizations, were the subject of our study. We focused on what firms can do to find and keep new entry-level employees for all types of jobs.

Many companies are raising wages, converting to full-time benefited roles, and even offering signing bonuses to attract and retain their core production employees. These are significant, but we discovered that the social components of recruiting, particularly those dealing with mutual respect and trust, are more critical in keeping young workers on board. These are especially difficult for employees of color, who frequently anticipate facing discrimination.

Our mission is to assist organizations in examining their hiring and training methods, increasing the speed with which new recruits become effective team members, and lowering the high financial and emotional costs of failed hires. In our research, we discovered ten insights that can assist employers to hire successfully. These insights were produced by the labor experts we spoke with after watching the common mistakes employers make, often repeatedly. Here's how to deal with them:

1. Create career opportunities.

We live in a time where people have higher expectations for good jobs. A good job isn't just one that pays a little more than the minimum wage; these are many and ubiquitous. Good employment gives young people hope for the future and makes them feel respected. Career employment offers a decent income, consistent hours, observable skill and wage advancement, and, most importantly, fosters respectful relationships with coworkers and bosses. Bad jobs convey that the company is unconcerned about whether employees stay or leave.

2. Make career advancement opportunities clear.

Before you hired them, they may have worked in several dead-end positions. It's critical to note that what businesses may regard as a training period with the objective of establishing a long-term partnership for young workers may feel too similar to previous positions. What an employer may seem clear may be a mystery to a young employee. Make it obvious from the start that this hire is the start of a long-term relationship. If you don't make this obvious, young workers may leave early for a job where they can advance.

3. Prior to recruiting, establish positive relationships.

If you're having problems finding qualified candidates, reaching out before hiring can help. Young workers frequently require the ability to visualize themselves in your workplace, performing your tasks, and collaborating with their colleagues. Before the (sometimes stressful) real interview, mock interviews can express what employers value. Workplace tours and job shadowing are beneficial in assisting candidates in visualizing themselves in a role; but, if everyone else at work is white or male, tours and job shadowing may signal to many potential employees that they do not fit. Websites and training videos are no exception: If no one else looks like me, I might just conclude I'm not welcome. Because the future workforce will increasingly consist of people of color, employers must consider the signals they give to workers of color.

4. Ensure a favorable first impression.

Everyone is scared when they start a new job, but young workers are especially vulnerable. One of the most common errors employers make is expecting new employees to be ready to work and will figure things out on their own. This may be true for those that stay, but it also sends the message that you don't care, which will cause some to leave. When a new employee arrives at work and everyone is surprised to see them, this is the extreme form of this. This could imply a lack of communication between HR and department bosses, according to the company. This sends the message to the new employee that you don't care. Retention hinges on first impressions. It is critical to make introductions to coworkers, managers, support staff, and the boss.

5. Assign a mentor to new hires.

Employees must learn both job skills and the workplace's informal culture. If you leave it up to chance, some employees will figure it out, some will struggle, and some will be adopted by a more senior colleague. One common misconception is that those who are struggling are lazy or stupid. Frequently, they have not been effectively mentored and require assistance in figuring things out. Mentors can help with information and absorption into the workplace's social life. Mentors are especially vital for young black workers, who are frequently disregarded or ignored by older bosses until they "prove" themselves. Many companies have well-developed mentor networks for their managerial and professional workforces, but often leave lower-level employee onboarding to chance. This is a mistake, especially when these are frequently your key production employees.

6. Clearly communicate and explain expectations.

Expected behaviors are governed by both statutory and informal regulations in the company. Many people learn these norms by looking around and keeping their heads down. However, some restrictions, such as avoiding using cell phones on the job or calling in if you are late, may seem self-evident to managers but arbitrary or absurd to young workers. Cell phones, for example, are frequently the most expensive property of young employees, a lifeline to their children for parents, and fundamental to most young people's identities and relationships. Checking phones, of course, maybe hazardous in some production environments, unpleasant to clients in many service positions, and annoying to supervisors in general. A rule that makes sense is fine, but it is the employer's responsibility to communicate not only the rules, but also why they make sense. Otherwise, you can come across as a controlling parent or teacher who tells them to "just do it." When we were younger, we all remember how ineffectual that was.

7. Foster an environment in which young employees are encouraged to ask questions.

Young employees are frequently shy to speak up and seek assistance. They are afraid of failing, therefore they never seek help or explanations when they need it. When new employee believes that asking questions is common and that they will be treated with respect if they express their ignorance, they will pick up on things faster and more effectively. It's natural to disguise your need for assistance in an environment of disdain and impatience. Allow your young employees to ask questions and make it apparent that doing so is beneficial.

8. Recognize your non-work life.

Younger employees have different lifestyles than older employees. This is especially true when your new workforce is made up of people of color or immigrants. Some people have kids. Many people must use public transportation to get about. Some people are in school, or their children are in school. Successful managers recognize the importance of learning about their young employees' non-work lives. Children become ill, public transportation is frequently late, and has erratic schedules, schools schedule exams or teacher workdays, and doctor appointment dates are beyond our control. Recognize that their circumstances may differ significantly from yours. Taking the effort to learn will help you avoid mistaking complicated lives for poor work habits.

9. Encourage everyone to be treated with dignity and respect.

Despite being the cause of toxic racist encounters and sexual harassment, managers sometimes pardon supervisors and coworkers who are equal opportunity bullies. Managers should never use poor performance as a justification for racism or sexism. Tolerating any sort of disrespect lowers morale, diminishes productivity, and increases turnover. Workplaces that treat all employees with dignity and respect, regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, gender, or just simple beginner ignorance, will have a far easier time hiring and retaining young workers.

10. Make your workplace racially equitable.

Workers of color and immigrants have faced discrimination in the past at work, in schools, and in public areas, and many are concerned that they may face it again at your company. A colorblind approach to race is an affront to the lived experiences of immigrants and people of color. Employers should pay attention to the fundamentals, such as wage disparities based on race and gender, shifts and hours, and work allocations. Creating a racially fair workplace also requires developing strong and respectful relationships between managers, coworkers, and new employees of various ethnicities.

Consider the first few weeks of a new hire's employment as a probationary phase for both the employee and the employer. Both are eager to establish a long-term beneficial partnership. While businesses want to know if the employee will adjust to the workplace's rhythms and expectations, new employees want to know if this is a respectful and encouraging place to start a career. Communication that you cherish a long-term connection and that your workplace is a welcoming and courteous environment is essential for successful onboarding and preventing premature turnover.


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