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Engaged or not?

Recent studies have shown that the average graduate’s first job will last only eighteen months, and almost a quarter of graduates leave their first job within 12 months.[1][2] High levels of staff turnover is costly to your organisation both in terms of time and money. It can also have an impact on staff morale and give your organisation a bad reputation. This is why it is so important to have a good structure in place to retain graduates and ensure that they are shouting from the rooftops about how great a place your organisation is for them to work.

In this article we look at 10 things you can do to help with retention of new graduates:

1. Understand why previous graduates have resigned – Many graduates leave their jobs because they are not satisfied with the current situation. Common reasons include a poor salary and benefits compared to other companies, a lack of training and development opportunities and being generally unhappy and unfulfilled.

Although some level of turnover is perhaps expected it is always important to understand the reasons. When your employees leave be sure and ask them why. This could be done via an exit interview or confidential questionnaire. Any factor that comes out that is within your control is an opportunity to improve and get it better the next time.

2. Hire the right people for the job – The interview process is key here, all too often you hire someone for a job only to find out that their skillset doesn’t match or they don’t live up to their interview performance. This is where it is important to use the interview process to ensure you make the right choice. Consider assessment centres, psychometric testing and ensure that you cover all the competencies that will be required to be successful in the role.

3. Be up front about the job you are hiring for – any employee needs to understand what is going to be expected from them in their role. Be up front from the job description about exactly what the role will entail. Graduates who think they’ve applied to do one thing and are asked to do another will unlikely be happy and therefore more likely to leave.

4. Plan the first few months meticulously – The onboarding process is so important for both you and the employee. For the employer it gives you the opportunity to ensure that all the core skills required are taught and nurtured and for the employee it makes them feel valued and helps them understand their progression plan. A standardized onboarding process is a great way to ensure that nothing is missed. This can include everything from ensuring that their workstation is set up and ready on the first day to what training courses and outcomes they’re expected to achieve in the first 6 months.

5. Focus on culture – While it’s important to ensure that your new graduate has the skills to do the job, it’s equally important to ensure that they are a good fit for the organization. Be clear at the interview stage about what it’s like to work there and the type of environment they will be going into – is it casual or formal, flat or hierarchical in structure. Once the employee joins be sure and get them involved in what’s going on so they can feel part of the organisation straight away. Make sure they are invited to any planned social events, let them know about dress code, working hours and if there are any perks such as free snacks or cycle to work schemes so that they feel at home straight away.

6. Get your whole team involved – Enlist your current employees in helping your new start and making them feel welcome. Perhaps set them up with a “buddy” who they can go to when they run into problems or have any questions that they don’t want to bother their manager with. You could also get other members of the team to take them through various parts of their training. This will help the employee get to know their team and understand the dynamics of how everyone works together.

7. Give graduates time to grow and settle – Some graduates will take longer than others to settle in and while as a manager you will always want them to know everything straight away it’s important to make the onboarding manageable. Set their training plan with some flex, so if they excel the plan can be accelerated, but if they require a bit of additional development that time has been built in for it.

8. Help them learn your company and industry language – While this may seem like a small thing, helping your graduates to understand your company lingo is really important. Without even realizing it you probably have lots of abbreviations, phrases and terminology that to anyone external could quite easily sound like an entirely different dialect! Consider setting up a crib sheet or take some time to talk your new employee through the language and explain its relevance to them. This way they’ll be able to get up to speed much quicker and start contributing in meetings, instead of being consumed by the jargon.

9. It’s the little things that count – On their first day make sure that their workstation is set up, their business cards have arrived and any passes for the office are prepared, this shows you’ve made an effort to plan for their start and they’re not an afterthought.

Also as a new employee you don’t want to spend your first few days filling out paperwork or reading training slides. Every employee should feel that they’ve made a difference on their first day. This could be anything from making their first sales call, creating a web page or helping generate ideas in a meeting. These ‘wins’ should continue over the first few months so they can see the impact they’re having on the company. This is important for morale and to make them feel that they are providing value.

10. Communicate clearly with them and get their feedback – This may seem the most obvious of all but regular communication with your employee is important. Regular 1-2-1’s or feedback sessions should be set up and provide a great opportunity for you to feed back on their performance and also to find out how they are getting on, what they like about their role and what they are struggling with. If you can pick up any dissatisfaction in these conversations then you are likely to be able to stop an issue before it arises and improve retention.

Do you have any more ideas on how to improve retention of graduates? If so tweet us and let us know, we’d love to hear them!

If you’d like further information and advice on assessment centres, the interview process and our youth development programme partnering with employers to make the most of their new recruits then get in touch.



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