The Job Market Is Stressing New Grad Employees: How Can HR Help?
Fresh grads entering the workforce are more stressed than ever. Find out how HR can help create a more supportive environment for these young employees.
Gone are the days when employers gravitated toward older, more experienced workers. Today, more companies are recognizing the untapped potential of new generations.
As a result, HR budgets in many organizations now include provisions for programs and initiatives to attract and retain top talent from the Millennial and Gen Z demographic.
Getting new grads on board is advantageous in several compelling ways:
- Fresh graduates bring in diverse perspectives and ideas. While your current employees may feel adept and comfortable with their work, a new grad may have some valuable outside-the-box thinking that could benefit the company.
- Younger employees are often easier to train because they have fewer existing work habits to unlearn. They are also comfortable with new technologies, an increasingly important asset in the business world.
- Prospective Millennial and Gen Z employees are more in-tune with the latest trends in their field and can give your company a competitive edge. They can also help you understand and market to this target demographic more effectively.
However, the current crop of new graduates faces unique challenges as they enter the workforce. Besides the typical stresses of finding the right job and becoming financially independent, fresh-faced workers must also contend with a competitive job market and an ever-changing landscape of technology and workplace norms.
Therefore, as an employer looking to leverage the benefits of hiring new grads, you must be prepared to support them as they navigate these challenges. Recent graduates come with a lot of talent and potential, but they also require extra care and attention to thrive in the workplace.
5 ways to help new grad workers succeed at your company
Here are 5 noteworthy ways you can help your new grad employees succeed.
1. Provide tailored onboarding to new grad workers
More experienced workers often require less hand-holding when they start a new job. On the other hand, fresh graduates may need more support as they transition into the workforce.
Some young employees may even be unfamiliar with their payment structure, tax obligations, insurance, benefits, and other terms of engagement.
Therefore, instead of lumping all your new hires together for a generic onboarding experience, provide separate programs tailored specifically for recent grads. Below are 3 key components of an onboarding program unique to younger employees.
Familiarize them with the company culture
New grads may not be accustomed to workplace norms and expectations. For example, they may not know how to dress for success or when to arrive at work. Clearly explaining your company’s culture and values will help prevent culture shock and help new grads acclimate faster.
Help them understand the job market
Many new grads are unfamiliar with the current job market and may not know how to negotiate their salary or benefits. By providing guidance and resources related to the job market, you can help new grads make more informed career decisions.
Show them the ropes
New grads may not be familiar with the specifics of their job, such as how to use certain software programs or what type of information to include in reports. To help them hit the ground running, provide training and resources that will show them exactly what they need to do in their new role.
2. Promote upskilling to new graduate employees
Acquiring skills that will fast-track career growth is a top priority for new graduates. According to the LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index, 55% of recent grads consider upskilling as the number 1 reason for seeking a new job.
As an employer, you can play a vital role in skill development for your new-grad employees. By providing opportunities for training and professional development, you can help them build the skills they need to succeed in their career.
Below are some valuable tips for upskilling fresh grads.
Offer practical training
Avoid training skills your new employees cannot apply in their current roles. For example, if you train a software developer on how to code in a new programming language, but they are not using that language at work, the training will be ineffective.
Provide micro-learning opportunities
Micro-learning is a great way to provide employees with just-in-time training relevant to their current tasks. Digital capstone events like boot camps and hackathons can be excellent opportunities for young employees to quickly apply the skills they learn.
Leverage online learning
Online learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera offer numerous courses employees can take at their own pace.
Balance soft and hard skills
A study by ManpowerGroup found that 45% of employers worldwide are struggling to find candidates with the right mix of soft and hard skills. So, similar to technical expertise, skills like resilience, emotional awareness, workplace influencing, and relationship building are critical for new grads to master.
3. Prioritize employee health and wellness
The transition to the workforce can be a stressful time for new graduates. They may be worried about their job performance, managing their finances, or finding a work-life balance. Some might have moved away from home or be living in a new city for the first time.
As an employer, you must be aware of the potential impact of this stress on employee health and wellness. Stress can lead to a host of problems, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and burnout. Here are some tips for helping your new grad employees manage stress and stay healthy.
Working long hours can be detrimental to one’s health, both physically and mentally. Encourage your new graduate employees to take regular breaks, even if it is just for a few minutes. They can use this time to walk around the block, get some fresh air, or just step away from their workstations.
Promote healthy eating habits
Eating unhealthy food can lead to many problems, including weight gain, fatigue, and low productivity. Encourage your new grad employees to eat healthy meals and snacks. You can also offer them discounts at local health food stores or delivery services.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health. Encourage your new graduate employees to exercise regularly, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. You can offer them discounts at local gyms or yoga studios or provide on-site fitness facilities.
Train managers to create supportive, inclusive working environments
Managers must be able to identify the signs of stress and burnout and provide support when needed. They must also foster a culture that encourages employees to share their concerns and problems.
Establish an employee assistance program
An employee assistance program (EAP) can provide your new graduate employees with the support they need to deal with stress and mental health issues. EAPs offer essential services like counseling, financial planning, and legal services confidentially and at no cost to the employee.
4. Address housing and commuting concerns
Finding affordable, stress-free housing is challenging for many employees, but it is incredibly nerve-wracking for new graduates. These young workers are typically in the housing market for the first time. Consequently, they often lack the network, resources, and expertise to find a house that meets their needs and budget.
Moreover, because new grads typically occupy entry-level positions with relatively low pay and inflexible work schedules, they are especially vulnerable to the challenges of finding affordable housing and managing a long commute.
A lack of affordable housing can dramatically impede a fresh employee’s productivity. According to a Mercer study, workers that commute over 1 hour a day lose 7 days’ worth of productive time annually. Longer commutes are also likely to induce fatigue, financial concern, stress, and diminished morale.
Assisting your new grad employees with finding affordable housing near their workplaces can be an excellent way to keep them satisfied, productive, and stress-free. Here are 5 ways you can lend a much-needed hand.
Offer a housing and commuting allowance
Many new grads would jump at the opportunity to receive financial assistance with their housing and commuting costs. If your budget permits, consider offering a monthly allowance that employees can use to cover these expenses.
Arrange corporate housing
If you have the resources, you can arrange for your new graduate employees to stay in corporate housing near their workplaces.
Provide relocation assistance
If your company is located in an expensive city, you may want to consider offering a relocation package. That way, you can help new graduates cover moving costs and make the transition easier.
Connect them to resources
Even if you cannot offer financial assistance, you can still help new graduates by pointing them to suitable sources of affordable housing, roommates, or even temporary accommodations in your area.
Encourage remote working
With the rise of digital nomads, more companies are encouraging their employees to work remotely. If your company has the infrastructure to support remote work, consider offering it as an option to new grads. That way, they can avoid the hassle and expense of finding housing near your workplace.
5. Offer mentorship and coaching
Mentorship and coaching programs can significantly benefit new graduates. These programs pair new employees with more experienced employees who can provide guidance and support.
Mentors and coaches will help your young employees feel more connected to the company and their colleagues.
Mentors typically help new grads adjust to the workplace, learn about the company culture, and develop the soft skills they need to be successful in the long run. Meanwhile, coaches guide new graduates to identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop action plans for improvement.
Mentors and coaches will help your young employees feel more connected to the company and their colleagues. Consider the tips below to establish a program that will give you the best results.
Pair employees based on interests and goals
Before allocating mentors and coaches, take the time to learn about the interests and goals of your new grads. That way, you can pair them with individuals that can best support them.
Communicate the expectations of the mentorship or coaching program to all parties involved to promote transparency and commitment to the program.
Schedule regular check-ins
Mentors and mentees must meet regularly, whether that’s once a week or once a month. These check-ins allow them to catch up, ask questions, and provide feedback.
Offer mentorship and coaching training
Not everyone is born a mentor or coach. If you want your program to be successful, consider offering training for your staff. That way, they can learn the skills they need to provide adequate guidance to your new grad employees.
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The reward is higher than the investment when hiring new grads
Currently, many employers are struggling to hire and retain talent. Some experts blame a retiring Baby Boomer and Gen X workforce, while others point to a pandemic-induced evolution of priorities among Millennials and Gen Z workers. Regardless, demanding years of experience for open positions does not help the situation.
Recruiting new graduates can be a great way to get ahead of the skills shortage, build a robust talent pipeline, and invest in your company’s future. Recent grads are eager to prove themselves and have the potential to become long-term, high-performing employees.
Admittedly, fresh grads come with some unique needs that require an investment of time and resources. To get the most out of your new grad hires, you must:
- Provide tailored onboarding,
- Promote upskilling,
- Prioritize health and wellness,
- Address housing and commuting concerns, and
- Offer mentorship and coaching.
Nevertheless, the reward is much higher than the investment, especially when you consider the challenges of recruiting and retaining top talent in today’s job market. When done right, hiring fresh grads can be highly beneficial for your business.