In the fourth in our Working for young adults series, we turn our attention to the most important group that we help. Businesses. If you’re confused or surprised, you should be, you might be thinking –
“But Tim, everything you’ve shared has been about the young adults and the work we do for them?” And, as we say in coaching circles – that’s a good challenge. Yes, unquestionably our mission is to support young people, but we can’t do that unless we’re a commercially viable organisation. And, we can’t do that unless we solve real problems that businesses are willing to pay for.
Working for private sector organisations has seen us redevelop the way we work. Before we did that though, we needed to understand the real nature of the challenges businesses are facing. I had the pleasure of speaking with HR leaders, graduate recruiters, apprentice coordinators as well as my peers in the Learning and Development community.
Getting the perspective from 30 businesses; some large, some small, helped evolve our thinking about how best to support the hiring process and the nurturing of their young talent.
What really struck me was, despite the different sectors, scale and geographic location of the businesses I spoke to, three key themes kept coming the surface.
The Search For Meaning
Young people what to make a difference and they want to feel that what they do matters. In short, they want to be connected to a mission.
The Need for human support
We can’t have a ‘sink or swim’ mentality. Anybody that joins an organisation needs support. That’s even more paramount in the case of young people entering the world of work for the very first time or early in their career. And that support absolutely needs to be human. An employees handbook is not enough!
This was the most consistent theme to emerge. Young people don’t want to be herded down a development path. They want and need to be able to shape their learning & development experience.
The insights from those individuals have helped us create a clearer picture of how we fit into the story of a young person joining an organisation for the first time.
Our first commercial pilot with Thorntons Investments in Dundee has given us the opportunity to put the theory into practice and the feedback has been positive. The model we’ve built works and we’ll continue to learn and tweak our approach as necessary. We have to make sure we deliver real value, not just for the young person being coached, but for the business that invests in them.
But what exactly does ‘delivering value’ look like for these commercial organisations? What are the real benefits to the employer?
The Four Ways We Support Businesses
Dissatisfied and disengaged employees don’t tend to hang around long. The promise of a decent pension and benefits doesn’t have as big an impact on a young person who can’t quite comprehend the thought of retirement. Companies invest huge amounts of money on graduate recruitment, money that is wasted if too many young people abandon ship too early.
Coaching helps young people map out their own path within the organisation and gives them a purpose to stay for.
“They’re just not ready?” It’s a common thing we hear from employers. While the young person might have a hugely impressive academic record that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re equipped and ready to contribute to the success of their employer. The journey from education to employment is tough.
Coaching development helps plug some of the key soft skills gaps and make the transition as painless as possible – for all parties.
It can be hard for us to recall our first day in the World of work. For some, the time has fogged our memory, for others, it was no big deal. But, for some those early days were filled with anxiety. Young people have much more aware of their own mental health. Organisations have a responsibility to support their team.
Coaching development helps young people to understand themselves better so that they are better equipped to cope with the ups and downs of working life.
Not every young person is going to be a high flyer, superstar performer. But, more than ever organisations need to be able to identify those that want to progress as early as they possibly can. And, when they do identify them, they need to be able to show a clear progression path for getting to where they want to be.
Coaching can play a pivotal role in shaping the young person’s understanding of what it is that they really want.
Our role is to help the leaders of organisations have a more engaged young workforce that delivers as much value to the business as they possibly can. We’re not replacing or competing with your own programmes, we’re here to add to the great work that you already do. Our experience is that together we can be stronger.