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There are always younger people joining the workforce every year as they leave school or graduate university. The difference is that now, it’s not just younger people making their way onto the career ladder - it’s a whole new generation. 

The oldest amongst Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) are now of an age where they’re starting to go to work, but unlike their millennial predecessors, they need to be managed in a slightly different way.

cheering on work colleague

How to manage young employees 

For as long as young people have been entering the workplace, they’ve needed to be managed in a different way to those who have several decades of work experience under their belt. As standard, young people should be given more coaching and attention than those who have been working for a while, but there are other factors that go into managing a younger workforce.

Ease them in

Young people have typically spent the majority of their lives in education, and those who have worked before have likely done so in a part-time capacity on a shift rota pattern. If your workplace doesn’t replicate this, it’s going to be a completely new way of working for them to get used to.

With this in mind, an adjustment period won’t go amiss, with shadowing being one of the best ways to do this. Shadowing is where you get them in and have them observe a person who is currently doing the job they have been hired to do. One or two weeks of shadowing will allow your young hire to get used to the working environment and see all aspects of what they’ll need to do without actually having to take on any responsibility.

It’s common for anyone to feel daunted when taking on a new role, especially those who have never been in a professional working environment before. To try and make your young hires feel more at ease, give them a week or two to observe their job in practice, providing them with ample opportunities to ask questions and learn more about various aspects of their new job. Not only will this relax them a bit more, but it will also mean when they do come to begin carrying out proper tasks, they are far better equipped to do so.

Provide training and feedback

The values younger people have with regards to work are vastly different to those other generations have had. Boomers and Generation X used to hold salary and loyalty near the top of their list, but younger people prioritise career progression and feedback as key things they value in a job.

This means if you don’t already, you’ll need to start introducing regular feedback sessions and one-to-ones as part of your management style. Feedback doesn’t necessarily have to always be positive – lots of young people value a mixture of constructive and positive feedback to help them know what they’re doing well and what could be improved.

Holding a meeting once a week and sticking to appraisals is essential for managing young people. Most are keen to impress and do well, so make sure you are clear and direct with them from the outset.

In addition, make sure you are giving them comprehensive training. It’s not fair to throw them in at the deep end and then be surprised when they start to struggle with tasks. Take your time with them and explain things step by step. Give clear and absolute direction and provide feedback every step of the way, helping them feel more confident and able. Motivating young employees isn’t difficult – they’re eager to get going – but you need to provide the stepping stones and goal outlines for them to excel.

team of colleagues happy working

Give them relatively free reign 

Whilst a working environment might be new to young people, rigidity and structure are not. Most have spent at least 14 years in education, and those who attended university have spent at least 17 years in school. What this means is that most have learned how to juggle multiple tasks at once, but they have one major advantage: technology.

They will still need clear direction, but there’s a good chance that this new generation of digital natives, who are unlike any generation before them, can teach you a thing or two as well. Young people want to do well and do the job they’ve been hired to do, but they also want to feel like they can showcase their own skills and put their stamp on the job at hand.

Give them an opportunity to do this. They could well know something you don’t and have knowledge and ideas on how to streamline processes that you hadn’t previously thought of. Young people are in demand and competition for talent is fierce, so as much as you need to be teaching them, don’t fall into the trap of assuming there’s nothing they can teach you.

Offer them fair pay and other benefits

Unless you’re bringing a young person in to fulfil a junior position, you need to make sure you are paying them the same as everyone else. If they are going to be doing the same job as someone else, even if that person is five years older than them, they will expect to be paid the same. Equal pay for equal work is something many young people value, but in addition to this, an overall fair living wage is also an expectation.

We are living in a time where employers need employees just as much as employees need a job offer, meaning both parties are interviewing each other. It is no longer a one-sided conversation. With social media, it’s easier than ever for your competitors to poach your most promising talent, often offering higher pay and better workplace benefits. Using our pay benchmarking service, you can easily identify what others in your sector are paying, ensuring you’re putting forward a competitive salary.

Pay isn’t the be-all and end-all for young people, though. Most prioritise the working environment and other benefits over money, so you also need to ensure your workplace is a positive, relaxed, happy and sociable place to be, with other benefits and rewards on offer.

Paydata can help you with designing competitive and enticing reward programmes for your employees if you are struggling with where to start. This won’t only benefit younger workers, but it’s something that boosts morale, output and staff retention across all your employees.

Get in touch with Paydata 

If you are looking for further advice on how to manage young employees, we can help. Please contact us to find out more about what we can do for you and your young staffers.

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