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Engaging Young Professionals

"Every generation gets a negative label when it enters the workforce. Once we take time to understand the motivations and mindset of younger people; working with them, selling to them, and managing them becomes a more successful effort.”
Meagan Johnson

There’s a lot of talk about how young people who are often referred to as Generation Y (with the follow on Generation Z coming up closely behind them) are different from older workers. Sometimes this is overemphasised, however, there are differences just as there are differences with the different earlier generations.

It’s a matter of socialisation – the environments that they have been brought up and developed in. Take for instance the way in which parents bring their children up. How many people bring their children up in the same way as their parents did? Then there is the education system and the wider community and societal environments that they are exposed to which are influenced by such factors as government policies on various issues and technologies that allows for a different form of interaction with other people and a different understanding of the world in which we live.

The differences and similarities between generations can in some ways be likened to the differences between young people brought up in two different countries such as China and Algeria.

Because of differences they may present in their capabilities as well as they way in which they do things and interact we may at times be critical of young people when they come to the workplace. The truth, however, is that we desperately need them.

  • There is an ageing population and an increasing number of older workers rapidly edging towards retirement.
  • Young people already represent a significant proportion of the workforce.
  • Young people will increasingly represent our customer base.

  • Young people are both our children and represent our future.
  • Young people bring highly valuable, unique skill sets to the workplace.
  • We have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to engage with them.
  • If we don’t employ them, we will pay for them through our taxes.
  • Immigration policy places some limitation on importing skills.

This therefore raises the question as to how we effectively engage them within the workplace.

  • In the first instance I believe that there is a need for us to be clear about what our organisations stand for in terms of values, vision and purpose. This way we are more likely to attract young people who are aligned to our organisations.
  • Have a proper induction that provides a clear understanding of the organisation, how it works and their role within the organisation i.e. don’t just define the bigger picture, make them aware of how they fit into it, whatever there role may be. To help their understanding involve them in projects and meetings.
  • Provide clear roles without being prescriptive i.e. explain the what, but let them work on the how and do things in their own way with the necessary guidance and support.
  • Listen to them and be open to what they have to say; and their ideas on how things can be done differently within the organisation. If you don’t agree with their suggestions, make sure you let them know why.
  • Provide objectives and/or targets with a bit of challenge. If and when it’s possible give them responsibility for things and even mini-projects.
  • Provide regular feedback on performance – give feedback on both the good and the bad and show appreciation. Also ask for their feedback.
  • Whilst some roles may require a presence within an office at certain hours, allow as much flexibility in working hours as is practical. Focus on achievement rather than them being present.
  • Encourage the positive use of technology and social media making them your brand ambassadors.
  • Come along for one of our workshops or speak to us in order to find out more!

Conning Towers Ltd is run by Susan Popoola, a professional Human Resources Consultant with close to 20 years HR experience working on numerous HR related projects across the Private, Public & Voluntary sectors.

Susan Popoola will be having a workshop on Employing & Engaging Young Professionals - 10th September.

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