Monday, July 15, 2024

Are You Giving Gen Z What They Want From Their Employers?

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

More than 2.4 million college graduates are poised to enter the workforce this year, but many report feeling woefully unprepared. Here’s what employers can do about it.

According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 U.S. workers conducted by my company, nearly two-thirds of Gen Z workers under age 24 are dissatisfied with how their school or college prepared them for employment. A survey by the American Staffing Association found that 70% of Gen Z workers view professional development and training offerings as important considerations when mulling a new job.

And according to Harvard Business Review, an identical 70% of employees say they lack mastery of skills needed to do their jobs — emphasizing the critical need for organizations to implement more effective training. So, how can organizations step up their training and development to help newly minted Gen Z workers assimilate? Here are five ideas to consider.

Related: How Generation Z Is Altering the Face of Entrepreneurship for Good

Establish a dedicated learning and development program

Starting a career is a major step for all graduates, whether from high school or college. They’ve been in learning mode, building skills since childhood. Keep it going in the workplace! Employers can tap into that here-to-learn reflex with programs to help new grads succeed on the job. Organizations should include not only hard skills like office suite training, but soft skills such as meeting behavior (and it’s not too early to train on leadership).

Whenever possible, organizations should make scalable, personalized learning a reality — giving managers the ability to quickly and easily create and deploy short-format, “snackable” learning courses tailored to individual needs while building a strong bench of potential future leaders. This training will be invaluable to keeping employees happy. After all, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), 3 million to 4.5 million employees quit their jobs.

Pair up a buddy

Designating a seasoned near-peer can make onboarding new talent more successful. A buddy can answer questions the new hire might not want to pose to a supervisor or senior leader, shed light on corporate culture and steer new employees away from critical on-the-job errors. The buddy system also limits potential unnecessary exposure to busy managers. Give a new employee a go-to resource, closer in experience and age, who knows how to assimilate quickly can make all the difference. It also goes a long way toward building a welcoming culture, which new grads will seek.

Assign a senior mentor

While a buddy can help a new worker answer some questions and generally steer him or her in the right direction, they can’t take the place of a dedicated, senior-level mentor to troubleshoot and help plot the right course for success. Good mentors will look out for new employees and show them success strategies, such as adding skills to better perform their jobs and aid advancement or navigating a corporate ladder. A mentor will also check in periodically to ensure the new employee is transitioning well to the company.

Set up a 90-day feedback session

New grads are used to consistent feedback from teachers and professors. When it’s absent from the workplace, it can make them feel unsure of themselves. A business is not a university, but that doesn’t mean a company can’t carve out opportunities to guide and reassure new employees. Feedback should always be constructive and help them prepare for more formal reviews. Initial feedback within three months of the hire date will provide recent arrivals with the opportunity to course correct before their first official performance review — when the stakes are higher.

Related: 5 Ways That Gen Z Differs from Millennials That You Must Take Into Account When Promoting Your Business

Create opportunities to acclimate to company culture

In a world of hybrid or even fully remote work, there may be less informal opportunity for new employees to assimilate. When someone’s working from home, it means fewer impromptu water cooler chats, so new additions in that mode might feel isolated. An employer can nevertheless engineer culture-building opportunities, including monthly live corporate updates, virtual lunches, one-on-one catchups or company-wide, all-hands strategy sessions. Inviting hybrid and remote workers to such events will go a long way toward building a cohesive culture when in-office time is scarce or no longer happening.

Onboarding new graduates doesn’t need to be overwhelming for a busy organization. At my company, CYPHER Learning, we have implemented many of these suggestions. We’re a fully remote organization, but we get employees together on a regular basis, ensure they have mentors and provide continuous feedback. We set up corporate calls to share good news and provide training on our latest products. We ask managers to keep in touch with new employees to ensure they feel valued.

It’s not too difficult a book to take a page from — and doing so can pay big dividends in worker productivity and innovation, team cohesion and long-term retention. With a little planning, organizations can help new grads seamlessly enter the workforce and thrive as confident, successful new employees.

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