New breed of graduates creates retention challenge for organisations

Organisations are struggling to retain a new breed of impatient, easily-bored and money-driven graduates, according to a new survey from TalentDrain.

Employee engagement specialist TalentDrain questioned 1,749 graduates below the age of 31 and found they were hungry for a better salary and prone to leave their jobs in frustration, due to a lack of promotion opportunities, a sense that their reward was not linked to their performance and because of insufficiently challenging work.

“Graduates want challenge and advancement and they’ll vote with their feet if their organisation can’t deliver,” said Ron Eldridge, Director of TalentDrain.

“Retaining graduates is an art and if employers don’t want to lose their high flyers to their competitors, they have to become better skilled at this art.”

TalentDrain’s research shows that graduates place high value on personal growth, job satisfaction, their salary, their relationship with their boss and career progression.

However, demographic differences between individuals, such as gender, make the issue of retaining graduates more complicated.

Salary and career progression are more important to males; whereas personal growth, job satisfaction and the relationship with their boss are more important to females.

The nature of the role is also relevant.

Personal growth, career progression and independence are valued most by graduates in managerial/professional roles, while job satisfaction and the relationship with their boss are valued most by graduates in sales/customer service/administrative roles.

Furthermore, this latter group also expresses a significantly higher intention to leave.

“Graduates will leave if there is a mismatch between their personal priorities and the organisational environment,” said Ron Eldridge. “But much can be done to reduce graduate turnover.”

TalentDrain recommends that organisations should ‘begin at the beginning’ by re-examining how they seduce and attract graduates.

“Because organisations are so desperate to recruit top graduates, they often fall into the trap of over-selling the role or promising more than they can deliver,” said Ron Eldridge.

“A better approach is to have an honest discussion of what life will really be like at work, so a graduate can make an informed choice about whether the job and the organisation will meet their needs. This helps to avoid any nasty surprises later.”

To retain graduates, TalentDrain recommends structuring roles and the organisational environment in order to give graduates challenging and interesting work, autonomy and career progression.

Individual developmental review sessions should also be introduced to monitor the extent to which graduates feel their aspirations are met at work.

“Developmental review sessions should be separate and distinct from performance appraisals,” said Ron Eldridge.

“They should offer graduates the chance to evaluate the organisation’s ability to meet their needs. Even something as simple as identifying an individual’s key drivers and then eliciting a 1-10 rating in terms of fulfilment in these areas, will help to indicate their level of engagement.”

TalentDrain admits that competition between employers perpetuates the demands of graduates and that this could lead to a backlash.

“Some organisations may decide that employing graduates is more trouble than it’s worth,” said Ron Eldridge.

“There are many roles within organisations that do not require a degree-level education and non-graduates can be less demanding to manage. By adopting a broader definition of talent, employers can encourage a more diverse workforce, which could pay dividends in terms of longer tenure and higher engagement.”

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