What you need to know about employing a young workforce.
June is Youth Month, which means we’re celebrating fresh ideas, new-world skills, and future leadership. But Youth Month is also a nudge for us to take a good, hard look at employee experience (EX).
A younger, fresher workforce brings with it a new way of working. In other words, an unaccommodating, old-fashioned or ‘dull’ work culture simply isn’t going to cut it. But, should you really change your EX to cater to the youth’s needs?
Let’s take a look at this together.
First, understand who we’re talking about…
Currently, South Africa’s youth comprises those aged 15 to 34. Now, we’re not saying you should hire a bunch of 17-year-olds, but be aware that people in this very broad spectrum make up your present and future workforce.
Then, remember that it’s all about balance
For the better part of the 20th and 21st centuries, the global workforce worked an 8-to-5, Monday-to-Friday workweek – if not longer.
Is this still practical in a new world of work? Not so much.
What caused the change? Was it the pandemic? Not exclusively, no. Burnout and hybrid working were already happening before lockdown.
The younger workforce realised they wanted to have kids, see them grow up, focus on mental and physical health, and avoid traffic that stunts their productivity.
Point is, the combination of technology, rising fuel prices, and work/life balance means the young workforce has different needs in the new working world.
Considering the UK’s proposed model
Ever heard of a 4-day workweek? Before you have a heart attack, there’s a method to this madness…
According to The Guardian, more than 3,300 workers at 70 UK companies started working a four-day week with a 100:80:100 model: 100% pay for 80% of the time, granted that the workforce maintains 100% productivity.
Why on earth would a company do this?
Well, according to Workest by Zenefits, it:
- Boosts motivation
- Saves facility and utility costs
- Promotes less downtime with fewer sick days taken
- Increases productivity
- Attracts a young workforce
- Retains employees due to decreased burnout
- Enables autonomy, giving employees ownership of their work
- Promotes sustainability by reducing utility usage
But don’t change your model yet; there are cons:
- Not enough coverage for customers and co-workers
- Customer and leadership scheduling conflicts
- Varied employee commitment and self-discipline
- Increased overtime costs
- Increased admin to monitor schedules and productivity
- Employee and management resistance
- More discretionary spending by employees on ‘off’ days
Organisational culture is a silver bullet
It’s no secret that businesses worldwide are experiencing skills and talent shortages. But our opinion is that the problem isn’t merely a hard skills shortage – it’s an organisational culture conflict.
In South Africa, quality education is hard to come by. So instead of focusing on hiring youth based on their educational credentials, why not identify their potential and ability to adapt and grow?
This way, there’ll be more youth employment based on soft skills and fewer challenges finding skilled young talent.
In a 2020 article on 16 Latest Employment Trends: 2021/2022, LinkedIn revealed that 80% of professionals cite bad hires as a function of absent soft skills. The same study states that soft skills account for 91% of the hiring decision. This means that, by altering your organisational culture and recruitment strategy from education-based and office-only hiring to soft skills-based hiring with greater flexibility, you’ll acquire and retain more young talent and reap the associated benefits.
How to kick the skills shortage to the curb
- Alter your recruitment strategy
When you hire based solely on education, you risk employing youth that don’t fit your organisational culture – or not finding talent at all. Hire for potential instead.
- Don’t be stingy
Never expect interns to work for free. They also have bills to pay, and a monthly or weekly stipend will ensure they continue learning and contributing to the business.
- Offer coaching for real-world challenges
Hiring a young person with soft skills doesn’t mean you can send them on their merry way on Day 1. Guiding them to handle a real-world environment builds on their existing skills, allowing them to progress both personally and professionally.
- Provide mentors and journey advocates
Now that the world is returning to “normal” after the pandemic, and despite the “Great Resignation” (or perhaps, in response to it), business leaders should offer mentoring programmes to help the young workforce to adapt.
- Long-term strategies and opportunities
Ensure that you have consistent growth opportunities to encourage fresh ideas. Young staffers don’t hesitate to shift companies in order to progress.
To employ the youth, think like the youth
- Integrate soft skills into your interviewing process to establish a candidate’s empathy, creativity, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.
- Identify the changing needs, behaviours, fears, and expectations of the young workforce.
- Explore flexible working environments and methods.
- Establish learning, mentoring, and coaching programmes to build on employees’ hard and soft skills.
- Stay up-to-date with youth market trends. Chat to us. InteractRDT can help!