How To Keep Your Best Young Talent

By understanding what young talent is looking for in the workplace you'll be able to find ways to reduce their desire to move on

Young Talent Retention Blog 11. Offer young talent a challenge

Ambitious, bright young employees are looking for ways to build their CV and enhance their own profiles. They want to gain different kinds of experiences to help them move to the next rung on the career ladder.

Having interesting work is important to young talent. And if they’re high achievers, they’ll want to be stretched too.

Build in interesting assignments into their working life and every so often task them with some ‘accelerator experiences’ which plunge them into the unknown. They’ll be forced to draw on their yet untapped abilities and the development you’ve already given them and will realise its value. Skills and behaviours they’ve learned on both external and internal courses will instantly be brought into practical application.

“If you’ve invested a lot of time, money and energy in training young talent with potential to become future leaders, you really want to see a return on that investment as soon as possible. And the graduate is probably itching to put into practice what they’ve learnt,” says a Senior Facilitator at The Outward Bound Trust. “So don’t be afraid of giving them good opportunities to bring out their strengths."

2. Provide a competitive package

Understand what your main competitors are offering as salary and benefits packages to these highly-sought after employees. Consider how your salary and perks compare, especially if exit interviews reveal your high-fliers moved because of them.

But don't forget, it isn't always just about salary. Training and mentoring, work-life balance, holiday, health benefits, company culture and career development opportunities available can factor into decisions. Also, the profile of the company and your clients can play a part in how working for you is valued on a CV.

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3. Ensure continuing development opportunities are on offer

Managers will be able to assess where individuals require further development and provide this in the best format – stretch targets, broadening their workload, giving timely feedback, training and mentoring.Evaluate what competencies your organisation expects from its young talent. If you set out the knowledge, skills, judgement, attributes and behaviours needed for roles in your organisation you'll be able to assess how well individuals match up and where their strengths and weakness are.

Regular feedback with praise for good work is probably one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to retain your high-fliers. Millennials want this kind of immediate direct feedback continued throughout their working lives. “Don’t tell me what to do, tell me how I‘m doing,”is what they’re thinking.

Personal development is what ambitious employees most want from a job. Any sort of stagnation in a career path causes stress in this demographic of 18 to 34-year-olds, says Graduateland an online career platform that matches employers with graduates. 

 In addition, make sure HR provide a regular stream of personal development information, including job advertisements, promotion opportunities and access to any training courses you offer.

4.    Manage your young talent well

Good managers see young talent as an asset, producing good work that reflects well on them. Bad managers can be fearful of the competition and squash opportunities for talent to thrive. You need quality managers to keep your high-fliers engaged, motivated, developed, challenged. Tap in to what makes an individual tick. What do they need to feel fulfilled in their work? What skills do they want to learn? In what direction do they want to take their career?

You need to show you’re listening. Tailoring training round graduates’ aspirations is a good way to show you’ve taken their goals into account.

A formal mentoring system that allows graduates regular access to senior colleagues can open their eyes to opportunities and career paths. They’ll feel more valued, integrated and at home in your organisation – all of which encourages loyalty.

You may even consider using an external people-management provider to assess your graduates and identify top talent among them. Their management and leadership capabilities can then be developed through further coaching.

Young Talent Retention Blog 35. Do you want to keep them?

As an organisation you have to take a view on how much it matters to you to keep these employees. You'll need to weigh up the costs and benefits of bringing young talent through the ranks. You'll also have to be mindful of potential wage inflation as companies in your sector compete in a limited talent pool.

However, there can be people who no longer fit your business and haven't fulfilled their promise. There'll also be others who need to stretch their wings in a wider world to gain experiences you can't offer. It may be better to let these individuals fly rather than become frustrated. They can be brand advocates for you as a good place to work in your industry. If they decide to come back at a later stage they will also be able to bring you insights and good practices from your competitors.

There's a case for injecting some fresh blood and thinking with some fresh energetic graduates with new ideas too.

But if you really want to keep your young talent, offer them training and development together with interesting work that stretches them. You’ll get their loyalty and motivation, as well skilled and capable colleagues.

How we help businesses with training, development and retention: You can see the potential business benefits in a range of case studies here.