The secret to finding employees that stick around

05 October 2016 -


Engaging with young people is just one way of building a loyal workforce for the future

Matt Scott

British business is tasked with finding more than 1.9 million new managers by 2024 if the economy is to meet its growth targets and boost the lacklustre productivity that has dogged UK Plc for years.

These new leaders will not appear out of thin air, however, businesses will need to work to find them, with young people a key source of fresh and innovative talent.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “Developing the next generation of managers and leaders is more important than ever – not just in helping individual businesses grow, but to help UK Plc bridge its productivity gap too.

“Enlightened employers know that developing young people isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s key to their ongoing business success.”

Looking to the long-term

But the key to future success is not just finding the right talent; it is finding the right talent for the long-term.

New research from CMI, The Age of Uncertainty: Young people’s views on the challenges of getting into work in 21st Century Britain, found that 63% of young people are interested in leading a team and 40% would like to become the boss of a company or organisation.

Young people recognise that in order to achieve their aims, they need to have the relevant skills and experience to succeed in the workplace – not just qualifications.

They consider organisational skills (68%) and communication skills (65%) as very important to employers, compared to only 35% who say exam results are very important.

But businesses are often not doing enough to reach out to the next generation and help foster these important skills.

The Age of Uncertainty report found that more than half of young people (56%) say it’s difficult to get the right work experience, with 75% of those who have not had the opportunity to go on work experience saying they would like to but don’t know how or where to get it.

James Robinson, partner at top 25 accountancy firm Francis Clark, said that such work experience schemes are not only important for the young person, but they also help give the business a lift and raise the company profile.

“We want to develop our business and get good team members,” he said. “[Work experience helps with that and] it’s also a way of giving back to, and being part of the local community.

“There’s no better way to network and advertise our firm. It’s a brilliant way to get our name out there just by doing the right thing.”

Once young people have come through the front door, this gives businesses the opportunity to start building lasting relationships with potential permanent recruits and build loyalty with the young people in the area.

Robinson himself joined Francis Clark as an 18-year-old apprentice, and has been there ever since.

One way that businesses can help foster these long-term relationships and develop them further is through mentoring.

And demand for such initiatives is high.

Some 70% of young people believe that having a mentor would help them to understand their options when leaving school better, but only 46% of those who had completed work experience had been assigned a mentor or buddy while on the scheme.

Apprenticeships are also coming to the fore when it comes to recruiting the next generation of leaders.

DHL currently has 111 active apprenticeships, with some focusing specifically on young people from underprivileged backgrounds.

“Unless they’re part of programmes like these they may never become visible,” said Sharon Davies, DHL corporate affairs director. “If they’re up against some of the apprentices I’ve seen they may not make it through a regular interview process – simply because they’re often not as confident.

”It’s got nothing to do with talent, and you’ve got to give these young people that additional help.”

To date, DHL has retained 72% of their apprentices, proving the initiative as a rich resource for building and strengthening its workforce.

“Apprentices are working in all of our departments and are seen as a new and exciting talent pool,” Davies said. “We may want to keep them on after their apprenticeship ends, and if they do leave we want them to have had a great experience.”

And the reason why DHL is focusing so much on the next generation is simple: they will be running the business in 20 years’ time.

Maybe you should start thinking who will be in charge of your business over the coming decades, and start engaging with them now to ensure you have the best available in place for when the time comes.

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