Blog post

How to attract and retain young workers after the pandemic

As more employees in the Canadian P&C insurance industry retire and the industry continues to face a talent shortage, some are looking to younger workers to fill the void.

New research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that the social aspects of onboarding can make or break a young worker’s experience. In particular, the authors recommend 10 ways to find and keep new entry-level employees in a post-pandemic hybrid world, including connecting in person before the application process and ensuring a positive first-day reception.

“Successful employers encourage job seekers to tour their facilities and experience first-hand what the company does and how it works,” write Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and Reyna Orellana in their research, Integrating young workers in a post-pandemic world, released earlier this month. “These types of opportunities can allow job seekers to imagine themselves in that workplace and alleviate the fear that they won’t fit in.”

Research from interviews with workforce development specialists focused on young workers (particularly young workers of color) also suggests job shadowing, workplace visits and mock interviews. “Matching, allowing job seekers to follow a worker and ask questions about the position and location, has been identified as a very effective pre-placement practice,” write Tomaskovic-Devey and Orellana.

Tomaskovic-Devey directs the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he leads a project focusing on successful management strategies to increase equity and inclusion in the workplace . Orellana is currently pursuing a doctorate. in sociology at university.

While job shadowing, mock interviews before the actual (often stressful) interview, and workplace tours for potential candidates are helpful, they can also backfire.

“Worksite visits and job shadowing are effective in helping candidates see themselves in a role, although if everyone already at work is white or male, visits and job shadowing in the workplace can signal to many potential recruits that they don’t belong,” the authors write in the May 12 harvard business review Blog, The key to retaining young workers? Better integration. “The same goes for websites and training videos: ‘If nobody looks like me, I can just assume I’m not welcome.’ As the workforce of the future will increasingly be made up of people of color, employers need to think about the signals they send to workers of color.

Virtual interviews pose another challenge. While young workers should treat them as they would for an in-person interview – ensuring they are in a quiet space, professionally dressed, etc. – trying to find a place in their living conditions can be problematic.

For example, applicants in a one- or two-bedroom apartment may not have office space and other family members present, so employers should “be more flexible when hearing a child cry in the background,” the authors write in the research. “Virtual interviews, of course, lose the ability to log in more generally prior to the interview process and should therefore be carefully assessed.”

Ensuring a positive reception from day one is also crucial. Introductions to co-workers, supervisors, support staff and the boss are vitally important. “A labor specialist recounted how a young worker came to the site for his first day of work, but no one was expecting him, due to poor communication between the construction crew. hire and the supervisor,” write Tomaskovic-Devey and Orellana in their research. “It was not only a wasted opportunity for a correct onboarding process, but also a bad experience for the young worker, who took away the feeling of not being welcomed and that the company was poorly managed.”

Here are some other tips from the HBR blog to better retain young workers:

  • Communicate career development opportunities — “If you see this hiring as the start of a long-term relationship, make that clear from the start. If you do not specify this, young workers risk leaving prematurely for a job in which they see themselves evolving. »
  • Assign a mentor to new recruits — Employees need to learn both job skills and the informal workplace culture. Designated mentors are especially important for young workers of color who are often overlooked or ignored by older supervisors until they “prove themselves”. “Many companies have well-developed mentoring systems for their executives and professionals, but leave the onboarding of lower-level workers to chance,” write Tomaskovic-Devey and Orellana. “That’s a mistake, especially since these people are often your main production workers.”
  • Understanding lives outside of work – “Children get sick, public transport is often late and schedules sporadic, schools schedule exams or teachers’ working days, doctor’s appointment times are out of our control,” says the blog. “Recognize that their life may be very different from yours. Taking the time to understand can avoid confusing complex lives with bad work habits.
  • Creating a Racially Equitable Workplace — Employers should pay attention to the basics, such as race and gender gaps in wages, shifts and hours, and work assignments. Building stable and respectful relationships between supervisors, co-workers and new hires from all walks of life is essential to creating a racially equitable workplace.

Featured image by