There's an issue with the way we treat entry-level employees. Research shows that in most cases, we undervalue them. A 2017 report from the Rockefeller Foundation found that 52 percent of recent graduates are too skilled for their current job.
This is a problem for both entry-level employees and employers.
Mike Seidle, co-founder of WorkHere, experienced this firsthand. He once had an entry-level software developer who had been hired by another manager. For three years, the developer was given nothing but elementary tasks.
"As a result, everyone on his team thought he was only good at grunt work," said Seidle "He was unhappy and incredibly underused."
Eventually, the employee was moved on to Seidle's team and given a new project. He immediately started to flourish and was promoted twice over the next year. Without that opportunity, the organization would have missed out on a great employee.
"If you only give entry-level people entry-level work, you will never know what you have," said Seidle. "Smart managers give entry-level employees opportunities to shine and quickly promote those who can perform at higher levels."
If you want to get the most out of your entry-level employees, this is what you need to know:
Focus on attitude, not education.
Eugene Gamble, an international HR and business consultant, once had an employee who started part-time as a teenager and became full-time once she graduated college. However, even after having seven years of experience with the company, she was still viewed as inexperienced and often overlooked for growth opportunities.
"On one particular occasion, she presented a course that would help the business to the owners and hinted she wanted to attend," said Gamble. "The owners took the information and sent two other employees--who were not interested--instead."
To avoid making this same mistake, Gamble focuses on employees' work ethic and attitude, rather than their education and experience.
"If you have an organization whose employees have a great attitude, you can create the systems and processes that can propel them forward," he said. "An organization with highly educated employees who have a poor attitude is doomed to failure."
As a way to assess his entry-level employees, Gamble ranks them as A players, those who are always looking to do more, B players, those who just do a little more than what is asked of them, and C players, those who don't accomplish much and blame others for their circumstances. Then, he focuses on developing those who have the best attitude.
Encourage them to volunteer.
Entry-level employees are often afraid to speak up about all they have to offer. But if you don't give them a chance to face challenges, they can never surprise you. Ben Brooks, CEO of Pilot, realized this while with a previous company.
The company was in the process of rolling out a new social media community, and a young junior employee went above and beyond to help--despite the task having nothing to do with her current role.
"After seeing how engaged she was, we ended up offering her a job on my team, helping to create content," Brooks said. "Some seven years later, she still remains in a content-focused role at the firm and is highly engaged because we were willing to learn what her true talents and interests were. If we hadn't, it was very likely she would have left the firm altogether."
Asking your employees what's wrong is the best way to address a problem. Yet, many organizations still don't conduct employee surveys. In the case of Deb LaMere, vice president of employee experience at Ceridian, surveying employees at her former workplace allowed her to fix a major problem regarding entry-level employees.
While working for this organization, LaMere realized the call center had an abnormally high turnover rate. They were losing most of their new hires within six months to a year of their start date.
"Through talking to people, I found out that many who chose to leave did so because they had ideas on how to improve processes which they tried to share, but found that colleagues and managers refused to listen," she said.
After conducting an employee engagement survey, LaMere realized that veteran employees were threatened by new hires.
"At the same time, managers had the mindset that entry-level employees had not been in the role long enough to be sharing suggestions for improvement, that those recommendations should come from the more senior-level positions," LaMere noted.
Avoid this by using collaborative hiring software like Comeet. This platform allows you to incorporate a variety of team members in your hiring decision so they all feel familiar and comfortable with new entry-level employees.
By remembering these tips, you'll be able to see the potential of your entry-level employees. Although they may lack experience, it doesn't mean they lack possibility.