An organization shares itsÂ strategic approaches toÂ attracting recent collegeÂ graduates.
By Julie Palmer and Claire Romaine
With the unemployment rate below 4 percent,Â competition for top talent is tougher than ever.Â However, waves of new talent are about to enter theÂ workforce as the collegiate class of 2019 graduatesÂ across the country. Organizations must capitalize onÂ the momentary influx and adjust both their recruitmentÂ strategies and benefits programs to appeal to theÂ graduating demographic. When it comes to attractingÂ and retaining young talent, there are a few key factorsÂ for HR professionals to consider.
Familiarity breeds opportunity. This is why maintainingÂ a presence on college campuses in an organizationâsÂ strongest recruiting locations is important. This can takeÂ on a variety of forms, including participating in school-wideÂ career fairs and having employee ambassadorsÂ give presentations to students in programs that alignÂ to talent gaps. Building strong relationships with theÂ administrators and professors is helpful as well, as theseÂ are the individuals who will be providing guidance andÂ recommendations to the students looking for jobs andÂ careers after graduation.
Unique benefits offerings. Once students haveÂ organizational awareness, the next step to successfulÂ recruitment and retention is creating and maintainingÂ programs and benefits that meet their needs. OneÂ prominent consideration for recent graduates decidingÂ where to work is whether an organization offersÂ student loan repayment programs. According to aÂ recent article in Forbes, student debt is at its highestÂ point ever. In fact, recent grads have a whoppingÂ collective debt of $1.5 trillion, so offering assistanceÂ to graduates is a big draw. For example, Suffolk, aÂ national construction management firm, recentlyÂ launched a student loan repayment program whereÂ eligible employees receive monthly contributions towardÂ outstanding student loans. This not only helps reduceÂ the debt stress felt by employees, but also helps themÂ focus on long-term career growth rather than theirÂ financial burden.
Rotational training programs. While the environmentÂ is competitive, not all recent graduates have a clearÂ concept of their skillset or passionsâeven less so onÂ how to apply both of these to a career. To solve for this,Â organizations should consider rotational training forÂ newly hired recent graduates, such as Suffolkâs âCareerÂ Startâ program. These programs should be devised inÂ such a way that they allow employees to experienceÂ all the main operational areas of an organizationÂ over a set time period. This will give participants anÂ opportunity to gain valuable experience and will alsoÂ teach them the importance of many business functions,Â creating a culture of understanding and respect acrossÂ departments. One of the most important outcomesÂ of a rotational program is giving employees a chanceÂ to discover where their skills and interests intersect,Â which then helps them discover their best suited careerÂ opportunity.
While rotational programs allow new graduates toÂ learn the ropes, other L&D initiatives can help asÂ well. A recent Gallup report found that 87 percent ofÂ millennials rate âprofessional or career growth andÂ development opportunitiesâ as important to them inÂ a job. This, coupled with the fact that only 36 percentÂ and 29 percent of millennials and Generation Zers,Â respectively, feel they have the skills and knowledgeÂ they need to thrive, makes ongoing professionalÂ development programs and opportunities paramount.
HR leaders should consider these additional tools toÂ both keep their current team engaged and recruit newÂ talent:
- Industry-specific professional development. ThisÂ programming should include ongoing programs andÂ coursework that are relevant to the industry and meantÂ to help employees learn and perfect their trade.
- Non-industry specific skills training. These trainingsÂ should focus on other skills that help create a moreÂ well-rounded, versatile, and valuable workforce. TheseÂ can range from communication and business writing toÂ first aid training in order to enhance employeesâ skills asÂ professionals and keep them engaged.
- Leadership development programs. These initiativesÂ should be available to individuals who demonstrateÂ a proficiency and desire to lead in order to helpÂ strengthen their skills and form the organizationâs nextÂ generation of leaders.
On a more fundamental level beyond recruitmentÂ tactics and benefit programs, retaining top talentÂ comes down to an organizationâs DNA. According toÂ The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, 83 percent of millennials believe a businessâ successÂ should be about more than just finances. This youngerÂ cohort looks for a set of balanced objectives, includingÂ a positive impact on society and the environment, andÂ innovative idea creation.
- Giving back. Itâs important to provide ways forÂ employees, in collaboration with the company, to giveÂ back to the community. This can be done in a variety ofÂ ways, and organizations should set up programs thatÂ work for them and their employees. For example, oneÂ option is to create an ongoing calendar of volunteer andÂ donation events that employees can choose to take partÂ in. These should be offered across all office locationsÂ and should include a wide variety of volunteer activitiesÂ so that everyone can participate. A unique option thatÂ Suffolk offers is a program called the âGiving Circle.âÂ This is an employee-driven non-profit dedicated toÂ supporting the Suffolk family and âextended familyâ inÂ times of great need.
- Creating a collaborative culture. Companies must striveÂ to foster a collaborative and innovative cultureâoneÂ that rewards teamwork and creativity, all while utilizingÂ and developing the latest technology. An organizationÂ doesnât have to be a start-up to prioritize technologyÂ and innovation. Any business with a vision, dedication,Â and the right people can become an industry disruptor.Â When it comes to not only recruiting but retaining theÂ top in young talent, itâs important that companies offerÂ interesting projects to work on and that they continuallyÂ look to what is new and evolving with technology.
It is a tough time for many companies to be hiring, butÂ new graduates are hitting the job market and manyÂ will be the next generation of innovators and leaders.Â Companies would be wise to consider recruitmentÂ tactics that focus on new graduates. The workforceÂ is changing, as are its needs and wants. To remainÂ successful, organizations must follow suit to ensureÂ theyâre able to continue to draw in top talent.
Julie Palmer is director of people and culture for Suffolk and ClaireÂ Romaine is SmartLab director for Suffolk.