Modern talent – how do you accommodate them?

Part 1

I can remember the agony oh too well, of balancing course work and exams with applications to much sought after graduate programmes. At the time, it seemed nearly impossible to do it all!

I can also remember vividly, the feelings of pride and excitement I experienced on receiving my first job offer. Finally all the hard work had paid off… and I was about to start my ideal job, with the perfect company… where I’d remain for the rest of my working life. Or not!

Needless to say, this idealistic view didn’t last forever. I changed my mind along the way, as do quite a sizeable chunk of my Gen Y counterparts – so what are the influencing factors… or are we just ‘flaky’?!

We’re not where we started

I and many of my friends started our professional careers on prestigious graduate programmes, with the promise of ‘real responsibility from day one’ and ‘fast-track to leadership’. Interestingly, not one of us (I’m talking about 15 people here) chose to continue our careers with the companies that had invested in us while we were fresh faced graduates, with minimal experience of work, whose competency based interviews largely revolved around scenarios from travelling or times where we’d had to work on multiple pieces of course work with the same due date!

They don’t know why we’re going

Findings from advisory firm CEB demonstrate a similar picture, highlighting that 25% of graduate hires plan to leave within 1 year of joining their graduate role. The statistics for graduate hires being retained at the 3 year point is a mere 61%. Unsurprisingly, the departure of top graduate talent is concerning the UK’s top employers, as High Fliers Research points to 18% of employers showing real concern in how to retain their graduates. These concerns are understandable as not only do firms prioritise development of grads, leading to higher financial investment than perhaps other recruits, but grads are also hired with the intent of becoming part of an organisation’s talent pipeline, as successors for key roles.

These are pretty stark facts, and from my experience, not atypical of some of the best graduate programmes in the UK. An employee’s economic value increases over time, so with heavy investment in development in technical and softer skills, coupled with shorter than expected length of service, the more astute employers may be questioning the return on investment of their graduate programme, and thinking about how they better match their needs with their employees’.

But you said one thing, and meant something else

Part of the retention issue can be linked to an employer’s employee value proposition (EVP) which enables prospective employees to make informed decisions on whether their own expectations can be met by an employer. Towers Watson demonstrates that in the absence of a clear EVP organisations struggle with balancing employee and employer priorities. Problems arise where a misrepresentative EVP is in place. For example, an organisation markets them self to graduates as having global opportunities, and being cutting in edge in their practice, though in reality options for graduates are limited to the UK and the work they’ll be doing is far more operational. It’s quite easy for there to be misalignment in expectations consequently leading to feelings of needs not being fulfilled, and ultimately disengagement.

The mind set change from engaged, dedicated and “I want to work here for life” to one of indifference and withdrawal is a fundamental shift, one which you’d expect not happen easily, or without due cause.

So is it a case of employers doing something wrong, or are the younger generation the problem?!

Part 2, including thoughts on possible answers, will be published tomorrow.