Many leaders are thinking about how they can better engage and retain junior talent in their organisations.
In a previous article, we explored the steps that organisations can take to address high employee attrition fast.
In this article, we look at some of the longer term foundations that leaders should consider when building an organisation that people want to join and grow with.
There’s no silver bullet to improving employee retention, but adopting an ‘experimental’ approach or ‘lab’ mindset can help new initiatives to land:
“Employees want to be part of the innovation process just as much as business leaders want new solutions.”
Be open about the objectives of the programme and invite employees on the journey with you. This could be as simple as sharing highlights from surveys via email or inviting employees to join workshops to collaboratively tackle a question, hypothesis or problem.
Doing too much, too soon can be overwhelming for employees who have to keep up with the changes whilst dealing with their usual workload. Employees might end up enrolled in lots of different initiatives and projects and feel overwhelmed.
There are some practical ways to avoid this and to help make any initiatives more effective:
Having honest career conversations begins with your culture. Employees need to feel able to have open conversations about their career aspirations, in order for their managers and leaders to best motivate, support and, where appropriate, retain them.
There are 3 important elements to enable a culture of honest ‘career conversations’:
Career advancement and learning is very important to junior team members – which offers a great opportunity for employers to engage them with development opportunities and improve their skills at the same time.
Many organisations offer manager and leadership training which focuses heavily on self-leadership skills.Equipping junior talent with self-leadership skills from an early stage can help them to better navigate their personal growth and proactively contribute to your organisation.
Consider the different needs and learning styles of your workforce and provide a range of tools and options for them to use. Having an external career coach come in, or offering online coaching, will also help employees better understand their career development.
Coaching helps to complement existing learning and development programmes, as well as annual appraisals and career conversations. Employees often report feeling more prepared and ‘plugged-in’ with the process because of coaching.
In an organisation with a development culture people are more likely to take the opportunities available to them and actively seek out further options.
This is two-fold, both upwards and sideways. Always look internally first when hiring a senior-level position, as it proves to employees that they can progress their career at your company. Second, encourage lateral movements within your company if someone wants to take on a new challenge – this is much better than losing them to a competitor. Stretch assignments with different departments also help people build news skills within the firm.
Most organisations adopt flexible working policies to enable greater autonomy in where, when and how employees work. At PwC it’s reported that 90% of employees incorporate some kind of flexibility into their schedules.
As we discussed in our article on ‘why junior talent leave professional services’, we explore how managing work around other life commitments is often a priority for junior talent. However, often, limitations are applied to more junior talent who are expected to do long hours on client site.
If there are opportunities to apply flexible working options to better retain junior talent, it can be an effective way of helping junior employees feel listened to and valued. There is likely to be a level of compromise here to both meet client and employee needs, therefore it all starts with an open, honest conversation.
People-centric projects can help fulfil some of the development ambitions of juniors and offer new ways to develop skills.
Incubator H-farm has designed an internal culture that aims to help its employees explore, discover and innovate. Before, not all team members felt like they were using all of their talents and potential. Now, everyone has a say in important decision making and H-farm’s culture is defined on:
Under this new, more fluid structure, project teams needed some guidance on personal development. So, H-farm decided to introduce mentors and sponsors to help employees connect with the company culture and their professional growth path.
In H-farm’s R&D function, teams act as self-organising units that focus on self-proposed topics for an entire year. Everyone has an opportunity to suggest a project for consideration. If they can gain buy-in from two fellow team members and budget from an elected committee, then their project can go ahead. In this way, all employees can actively change what H-farm is doing and how they will do it.
In this article, we’ve explored some of the longer term foundations that leaders should consider when building an organisation where employees can thrive.
Understanding some of the trends around what junior talent want and what employees in your organisation want can be valuable when thinking about how to apply these approaches at different levels within your organisation.
If you’d value talking with one of the GroHappy team about employee retention and career development in your organisation, please get in touch here.