5 Steps for Attracting and Keeping the Youngest in the Workforce

Your goal is to make your company indispensable to today’s “talentsumers,” who are consumers of an experience at work quite different than what many workplaces provide. In many cases, though of course not all cases, these are young people. Here are some suggestions for telling people why they wouldn’t want to work anywhere else on Earth.

Identify Your Side of the Company “Story”

As you consider what your organization is famous for in the realm of employment, think about what you want your message to achieve. What does the candidate want to hear? Job descriptions for certain positions are theoretically the same for any company. Your company story is what will set you apart from the competition in publicizing job openings. What’s unique is the experience of working for you.

First, you’ll sketch out what company and HR leaders think that story is. Later, you’ll get your staff’s take on that. Things may look different from the other side of the desk. But describing what you think makes your company stand out will lay the groundwork for telling a true story. Ask: What are our strong points in company culture? How do we live our stated values in doing the work that we do? How does our enterprise contribute to something larger than just the marketplace?

Get Employee Input on Their Experience

Next, find out how close your version is to what workers have to say. You can go about this formally or informally, but be thorough and get a cross-section of feedback from your workforce. Here are a couple of options:

  • Host roundtables on the topic. Read off the company line, and then invite staff to offer their opinions on how closely you’ve described their day-to-day working lives. Then discuss how the underlying values and culture contribute to that.
  • Go the survey route once more. This can be as simple as a two-question email that asks how easy it is for people to do their assigned tasks and where improvements could be made. Or you can print your story as you perceive it, share it, and ask questions about how accurate that is to individuals’ actual experiences.
  • Review anonymous social media posts about your company written by workers on platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Read between the lines to gauge what they have to say in light of what you think your company’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Take Action in Work Design and Culture

Now, eliminate the distance between the two overarching stories. This may take some dedication on the company’s part to improving things thought to be top-notch or implementing new ideas gleaned from employee feedback. You just asked your workers what’s most important to them in being employed, making a living, and doing their best work. If your company is falling short in any areas, shore them up.

Ask whether your organization’s work design and prevailing culture satisfy the priorities of today’s workers:

  • Does your company offer flexible work arrangements? Many candidates base their employment choices on the ability to set their own schedules or work remotely. Part-time and work-sharing options are not passé.
  • Have you given employees control over their careers? Training and advancement opportunities should be transferrable to relationships with other companies when yours has ended.
  • Do you have technology-enabled perks? The ability to trade paperwork for online forms or to use video conferencing instead of mandatory in-person meetings is attractive to
    “talentsumers.”

Define Your Target-market EVPs and AVPs

Your pipeline and process evaluations have shown you which sectors to tap for talent. Choose a few main groups to appeal to. Suppose you’ve determined that the ideal mix for your company currently includes 50 percent full-time employees, 25 percent freelance contractors, and 25 percent unpaid workers drawn from internships and a volunteer program. While all will share some of the same employment expectations, part of your message will need to be tailored to each group.

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Use what you’ve learned from crafting your company story and reviewing what employees most appreciate from their work experience. Put yourself in the shoes of applicants from different demographics and those seeking different hiring relationships. For each group, how do your employee and assignment value propositions address the highly ranked desires for developmental opportunity, performance recognition, interactive management, and team collaboration? Those answers may illuminate your EVPs and AVPs. These points of value will be used to inform your job postings and advertisements.

Broadcast Smart Job Descriptions

If you haven’t already revamped your job descriptions by removing superfluous requirements, do it now with your open positions. Candidates searching through job posts immediately click off when they feel they don’t measure up to the specifications listed. For instance, “must have experience in x, y, and z programs” knocks a lot of people out of the running. Decide where your company can rely on a candidate’s track record or tested learning capacity instead of specific requirements. Suddenly, you’ve widened the field considerably.

When potential applicants read your ad on the company website or an online employment hub, they should learn more about the experience than the basic tasks you compiled during deconstruction. They want to know less about how many reports need to be filed and more about how easy and satisfying you make it for them to file those reports. They want to know how managing your databases or attending to your customers will prepare them for the next stage of their working lives. That is no longer an unreasonable request.

Use your company website and social media posts to attract interest from the workforce at large. Encourage your employees — your talent ambassadors — to post personal content with a consistent pound sign (#). Check out #lifeatAGS to see how we do it. Post content that demonstrates your company’s expertise in its field, as well as its views on employment culture and management. Use your EVPs and AVPs as touch points for your leadership on issues of high concern to workers. You can provide value for passive candidates by showing them paths to acquiring new skills or taking on new roles that they might not have considered yet. Welcome them by providing links to comment online or connect with your recruiters via the web page.

Bruce Morton of Allegis is a workforce design and talent-acquisition expert and author of Redesigning the Way Work Works, available on Amazon.

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