Introducing young people into the workforce ensures innovation
While the pandemic has hit all of us hard, its most lasting effects are likely to impact the world’s young people. Many businesses facing cashflow disruption and an uncertain future made the difficult decision to freeze hiring, and halt graduate schemes and apprenticeship programmes. Several of these companies felt they didn’t have the bandwidth or resources to hire and train fresh talent.
However, there is reason to be optimistic for the future. As businesses stabilise and adjust, governments across the world are announcing incentives for those that help recruit young people into the workforce. Now is the time to take advantage of the support programmes and give young talent the opportunities they deserve. While this could be life-changing for individuals, it could also be transformational for businesses in the long run.
Virtuous circle of innovation
Beyond temporary financial incentives, there are multiple reasons why businesses should be actively seeking out young talent right now. Employees entering the workforce for the first time bring enthusiasm and fresh energy to a business, while freeing up vital capacity for more experienced team members. Most importantly, they help businesses foster novel ideas and new technological capabilities.
Generally, young people demonstrate a high degree of technical competency and are well placed to champion emerging technologies in an organisation. Tools like AI, augmented reality, robotics, and the Internet of Things, are critical in accelerating digitalisation in our post-pandemic world.
Younger employees allow a business to take advantage of the latest tools and technologies and fast-track the pace of change to match evolving customer needs. Furthermore, introducing young people into the workforce ensures a cyclical effect on innovation. New talent enables a greater uptake of new technologies and shapes an environment that is beneficial and attractive to young employees. A tech-enabled business attracts more young talent. In this way, a virtuous circle of innovation is established that constantly generates new ideas, perspectives, and capabilities.
Helping young people get a foot in the door
While the job market remains challenging, attracting the best young talent is still tricky. To be competitive, HR departments need to look at what matters the most to the newest generation entering the workforce. Only through listening and integrating their demands will businesses be able to capture the interest of young prospective employees.
The most successful, forward-thinking firms recognise that factors other than solid monthly remuneration are key drivers for young professionals. A fun and collaborative working environment and days off for charity work are intrinsic motivators to maintaining morale and productivity. However, the challenge from a talent perspective is that these motivators are different from one employee to the next. Set career paths or benefit packages, no matter how unique they are in the marketplace, won’t tick all the boxes for every young employee.
Therefore, HR teams must take a personalised approach with employees, curating a tailored career plan with incentives and conditions that encourage them to put their best foot forward. This is true of every employee, but particularly for the younger crop just starting their careers. This level of understanding, however, requires an integrated approach to company data. Through the cloud, relevant employee data becomes plentiful and easily accessible, anywhere and at any time.
Antidote for disruption
In these challenging times, it’s difficult to anticipate how customer needs will evolve and how operations may be disrupted. A business must be flexible and adaptable to stay relevant. This challenge will persist if a company is resistant to change. That’s why introducing young talent to the business is so important. Young employees can augment a company’s agility, and ensure it has the technical skills and innovation needed to succeed.
While it is certainly a trial by fire for these young employees, in time the experience will only strengthen them and build their resilience. ‘Generation remote’ could be just the antidote businesses need to survive and thrive in this brave new world.
Marvin Opperman is the People Director at Sage Africa & Middle East.