Tips to Attract and Keep Young Workers
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.