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How To Offer Young Workers' Top Career Paths

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on May 24, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

Retention is often a balance between the present and the future: Talented workers need to feel secure in their current position, but with a roadmap to the future that's clear enough for them to see how they will progress in the company. This is particularly important for millennials and Gen X who value personal growth and want to know where they are heading. In other words, career pathing is a vital benefit to them, and not enough hiring leaders recognize this yet. Knowing what career paths and ladders appeal the most to young workers can provide a valuable boost to both acquisition and retention.

Instead of Focusing on Performance Reviews, Lay Out Options from the Start

Performance reviews are quickly losing their status among young professionals as clunky, inefficient methods of judging progress. Today's career pathing requires a more active approach: Phase out complicated checklists and reports and focus instead on an early plan that will lay out a clear schedule for performance and expectations. Note when the company will be considering promotions, when they will be reviewing candidates, and what up-ladder positions look like. Create this roadmap early on, and new talent will have a goal they can pursue from day one.

This also allows you to gauge interest and buy-in among new hires. Remember, it may take several months for the average employee to find their place in the company and think about a career path. Those that struggle with this step may need closer attention.

Maintain Challenges

Young professionals leave their jobs for many personal reasons, but one reason that companies have almost full control over is the lack of challenge. It's an entry-level conundrum we're seeing more frequently these days. Young workers need to start at entry-level positions to work their way up, but they also dislike the repetitive nature of many entry-level jobs – they want to put their talents to better use. That lack of challenge can lead to retention difficulties in many industries.

Some companies may have the freedom to move beyond entry-level thinking and use a combination of staffing agencies and a more free-moving career ladder to place new talent throughout the company. Others may be better advised to keep entry-level jobs, but infuse them with a new bonus or input-related challenges.

Allow Employees to Take Part

Research has shown that millennials value career pathing more than any other worker generation – but that they also prefer to have a voice in setting that path. Handing new employees a spreadsheet showing their trajectory for the next five years may be easy and tempting, but this is not likely to appeal to younger workers who want to take an active role in their performance reviews and setting a great career path. This is also a benefit to staffing agencies and hiring managers who can pinpoint top talent that they prefer to see climb the ladder and discuss a more customized approach.

Combine Ongoing Training with Career Pathing

Young workers also have a preference for jobs that help them learn new skills, earn new certifications, and advance their own personal value. Tap into this by combining career paths with continuous education opportunities. Continuous education works best when it has a specific goal, such as qualification for a position that an employee has their eye on. This requires an HR department with a talent for communication and a carefully managed training program, but the dividends are larger than ever for companies that want to encourage employee advancement.

Concentrate On Connection to the Company

It's common to sell promotions by talking about the trappings, but younger workers, like millennials and in particular, the new Generation Z workers, have different ideas. They prefer their connection to the business and the possibility of greater control over the creative process, the day-to-day decisions, and the direction of the company. While compensation will always be important, career paths are most valuable to younger generations when they highlight how new positions will be able to impact the brand.

Think in Teams

Millennials and Gen Xers both value teamwork, so they may not respond positively to a career path that leaves them isolated. When creating career path opportunities, spend time on team dynamics and even consider team promotion. Is it better to leave a well-functioning team together, or to promote talent out of the team? Ask employees for their input when making decisions like this, and find ways to encourage team dynamics at more levels within the company.

Ultimately, flexibility is prized. When it comes to spot-filling teams so that talented employees can move around more easily, or finding specific candidates that have the right skillset for advancement in the company, consider a staffing agency like ICS. We can help you find staffing solutions based on your goals with the added benefits of saving time. You can now dedicate more resources on early talent management.
ICS 2017 Salary Guide