Tim Mart

Beyond offering a great company culture, what can organisations do to get new hires off to the best possible start? In search of an answer, at Know You More we spoke to the HR Departments, L&D, Graduate Recruiters, Apprentice Coordinators of around 30 companies. From big corporations to SMEs. Here are four of the many highlights…

Young employees need purpose

The ‘Great Resignation’ has shown many organisations that offering a job is no longer enough (has it ever been?). Employees need to know and feel that they’re playing a part in something, and companies and industries are finding it more and more difficult to tell their compelling story in an authentic way – to share a vision that people are drawn towards.

This is why so many graduates now choose to work in startups. They connect to the mission, and get onboard seeking a chance to contribute and make a difference.

It’s difficult to imagine an entry-level assistant sitting in their open plan office pressing the power button on their monitor and feeling directly connected to the life-saving aid that their company delivers to third world countries.

In an age of portfolio careers, it is here that organisations are investing heavily. In creating a connection at a level beyond salary and benefits. It is no longer ‘time in service’ that breeds loyalty, it is a sense of personal purpose.

Young employees value relationships

With every organisation we spoke to, having the right people around and available to any young hire was number one on the list. They recognised the huge leap from education into a working environment and the heavy expectations (often held by the individual) that came with that. Yes, it is important to provide the correct level of support and guidance but this is as much about developing relationships skills. Trust, communication and feedback just to name a few.

HR, a programme coordinator or manager, and a mentor tended to be the minimum a new start might expect. In addition to this, many organisations introduced a next level – internal coaches and cross-department relationships.

At the highest level, we saw the commitment to instilling collective leadership within young peer groups. Facilitating meetings, delivering projects, working outside of a hierarchical structure, to enable diverse teams from all corners of the company to come and contribute to something together.

Young employees prefer self-directed learning & development

The theme that flowed through all conversations was the values that younger generations hold. They believe in equality, fairness and social justice. So when it comes to learning they are less keen to be singled out for development opportunities.

Instead, young employees tend to value the chance to direct their own learning and shape their future career. Development is hugely important and, if given the opportunity, a ‘create your own’ style is preferred.

Having a suite of learning options to pick and choose from, from online courses, to coaching and personal development resources is essential to satisfy their insatiable appetite for learning.

Creative freedom unlocks potential

Once the induction is out of the way, space is being made to get creative. To teach the business something new. This is an invaluable opportunity for extracting the massive skill set young hires bring from day one.

Some of the most effective ways we discussed included:

  • Innovation hubs – a place free of rules to creatively address business challenges.

  • Entrepreneurship – for example, making a difference by delivering a project within the community or a cause that sits close to their heart.

  • Reverse mentoring – young employees mentoring senior leaders. Bridging the cultural gap by cultivating mutual understanding, empathy and appreciation.


These are no longer extracurricular activities. They are effective methods to draw out the potential of young talent, by building their confidence and providing a sense of positive contribution. A way to develop a young employee’s intuition, whilst working on tangible skills such as project and relationship management.

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