Tips to Attract and Keep Young Workers

Posted May 9, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A young Brown woman sits with an older Brown woman, while smiling and conversing. The two are shown in a workplace environment with laptops in front of them.

In today’s labor mar­ket, young peo­ple are look­ing for jobs that offer com­pet­i­tive wages and ben­e­fits. To attract and keep work­ers under the age of 30, employ­ers must have healthy work­places that are respon­sive to the needs of young people.

A new report from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mass­a­chu­setts Amherst’s Cen­ter for Employ­ment Equi­ty rec­om­mends ways employ­ers can devel­op work­places that sup­port and encour­age young workers.

Onboard­ing Young Work­ers in a Post-Pan­dem­ic World — fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion — out­lines find­ings devel­oped through focus groups and respons­es to a fol­low-up sur­vey from work­force devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als that par­tic­i­pat­ed in Gen­er­a­tion Work™ part­ner­ships in Seat­tle, Hart­ford, Indi­anapo­lis and Cleveland.

Who are Work­force Devel­op­ment Specialists?

Work­force devel­op­ment spe­cial­ists, who sup­port new employ­ees while ensur­ing that the needs of employ­ers are met, pro­vide crit­i­cal sup­port when build­ing last­ing employ­er-employ­ee rela­tion­ships. The spe­cial­ists con­sult­ed for this report were from orga­ni­za­tions that tend to focus on young work­ers, with the goal of prepar­ing can­di­dates for jobs in a broad range of fields. Report authors Rey­na Orel­lana and Don­ald Tomaskovic-Devey note that these pro­fes­sion­als often have keen insight into hir­ing and reten­tion strate­gies, which allows employ­ers to grow a skilled work­force while avoid­ing exces­sive turnover.

This report is a reminder that young work­ers are look­ing for jobs with good pay and ben­e­fits, but also the oppor­tu­ni­ty to advance and be treat­ed with respect,” says Lau­ra Burgher, a pro­gram asso­ciate with the Foundation’s Cen­ter for Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ty. These work­force spe­cial­ists have great expe­ri­ence sup­port­ing job­seek­ers, and their advice will be help­ful to employ­ers look­ing to hire and retain younger workers.”

Strate­gies for Suc­cess­ful Recruit­ing and Hiring

The authors found that work­ers ini­tial­ly seek jobs that pro­vide liv­ing wages, full-time hours and oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sion­al growth. With these in place, employ­ers can fur­ther reduce turnover by build­ing rela­tion­ships that are based on respect and offer­ing long-term paths to career progression.

Based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of work­force devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als, the report encour­ages employ­ers to fol­low three core strate­gies for cre­at­ing healthy work environments:

  • Intro­duce poten­tial employ­ees to the work­place through tours, job shad­ow­ing and mock inter­views. This cre­ates famil­iar­i­ty with an employ­er before the appli­ca­tion process has even start­ed and bet­ter pre­pares young peo­ple when they apply for an open position. 
  • Ensure a new work­er has a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence on their first day. Employ­ers should make new hires feel wel­come, intro­duce them to cowork­ers and explain expec­ta­tions clearly.
  • Assign new employ­ees a men­tor who can help them learn and nav­i­gate work­place cul­ture. The report notes that young work­ers, while they want to suc­ceed, may not under­stand work­place expec­ta­tions or feel uncom­fort­able ask­ing for guidance. 

Ensur­ing Respect­ful and Inclu­sive Workplaces

To retain new work­ers, the report rec­om­mends that employ­ers cre­ate work­places that are respect­ful of all employ­ees. This includes racial­ly equi­table and inclu­sive work­places in which there are no pay dis­crep­an­cies based on gen­der and race; there is equal access to oppor­tu­ni­ties (such as the best” shifts, for exam­ple); and there are sta­ble, respect­ful rela­tion­ships between super­vi­sors, cowork­ers and new employ­ees from all backgrounds.

In addi­tion, it’s impor­tant for employ­ers to under­stand the chal­lenges young work­ers may face in their per­son­al lives — and encour­age them to com­mu­ni­cate when those chal­lenges come into con­flict with work duties. This can include any­thing from dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing child­care, need­ing time off for med­ical issues or ill­ness, school-relat­ed respon­si­bil­i­ties or even late­ness due to unre­li­able transportation.

Through the rec­om­men­da­tions of work­force spe­cial­ists, employ­ers can begin to build long-last­ing work­ing rela­tion­ships with young employees.

Dis­cov­er How Employ­ers Are Meet­ing the Needs of Young Workers

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