How to attract young talent to your organisation

Caroline McKenna, Founder of Social Good HQ

How to attract young talent to your organisation

If like me, it’s been a while since your 21st birthday, you may not remember the feeling of being young and carefree. A time when you had the world at your feet, freedom and choices to make and when you weren’t constrained by mortgage payments, bills and school uniforms.

That feeling is hard to bottle.

It’s hard to remember how important it felt to make decisions based on who you were as a person rather than what your parents expected of you!

So, if we struggle to remember that feeling then how can we possibly know how to attract young talent to our organisations? How to make a compelling case on why someone should choose your sector and business over another?

What is your current strategy for attracting and retaining younger employees?

Our experience of working across many business sectors has shown us that it’s a real challenge for them to find ways to make their organisation a choice for young people.

Some create ‘a great place to work’ culture, they provide ‘time out’ zones with table tennis and vending machines, great career prospects, lots of holidays, pay-day beers, etc. So what more could young people want?

Times have changed and so have the attitudes of today’s youth. The Generation Citizens report from Demos found that teenagers are more engaged in social issues than any generation before them.

For a young person to have an opportunity to participate in things like the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme or the National Citizen Service, it helps to lay vital foundations for adult life.

Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. It is by helping others we show the best of our solidarity and sense of shared humanity.

Will working for your organisation allow them to make a real difference?

A survey by the Good Research Partnership and the British Youth Council of 850 people aged 11 to 25 found that they are more likely to buy from companies that show how they invest in the local areas.

“This is the first generation that has been taught about the value of corporate community investment from an early age. They are also the first generation that has been empowered by the internet and understands that they have the means to hold businesses to account.”

Terese Orange, Director of the Good Research Partnership

More than 80% surveyed believe its important that brands support the community and give to good causes. The same proportion would be more likely to be a customer or staff member of a company that supports community projects.

The biggest and most interesting piece of research to date by marketing agency Cone Communications found many young people won’t take a job where poor social responsibility practices exist.

The survey of 1000 people found that 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company, and 83% would be more loyal to a business that enables them to contribute to solving social and environmental problems.

“With millennials soon to make up 50% of the workforce, you will have to radically evolve your value proposition to attract and retain this socially conscious group. Integrating a deeper sense of purposed responsibility into work experience will have a clear bottom line return for companies.”

Alison Da Silva, Executive Vice President, Cone Communications.

Is your online presence in line with your organisation’s values?

In addition, the millennial generation are the most prolific users of social media, and these channels give young people the chance to express their opinions about brands to their peers.

Engaging with young people online allows a business to continue conversations and further share commitments to being a responsible business.

So what can you do to attract and retain young talent?

You need to show that you are doing all you can to give back to the communities you operate in.

Do you give your team time off for volunteering? Experian gave UK employees nearly 12,500 hours of volunteering time devoted to community and financial education programmes.

Look for ways to blend work and personal lives. How can you provide opportunities for young people to make a difference beyond the 9-5?

Young people see where they work as an extension of who they are and what they stand for. You should aim to provide opportunities that make a difference – both in the office and outside in their communities, to stand out.

This is not about personal passion projects either. The younger generation is nearly twice as likely as their gen X peers to believe their company should be involved in social and environmental issues that are important to the business.

Make sure your social good strategy is clear and easy to access on your website/intranet.

Engage young people outside of your organisation to find out what is important to them.

What’s important for younger people to stay motivated?

  • Professional growth: give them opportunities to learn.
  • Financial: offer bonuses or rewards.
  • Meaningful personal experiences: encourage them to explore opportunities to do more to serve the local community.
  • Personal recognition: create an incentive program.
  • Perks: offer free parking, dress-down days, payday beers, days out, vouchers, and so on.

These are just a few of the ways you can motivate younger employees. What do you have in place within your organisation to inspire and motivate?

Finally, make sure you are connecting with young people

Social media (YouTube and Facebook being the most popular, a 2017 study shows) is the place to share content that reflects your organisation’s values and shows how your social good activity is making an impact in the world.

This article first appeared on Social Good HQ.