Graduation season is upon us and across the country colleges and universities are loosing an army of fresh-faced potential new employees on the world of work. Among these eager new potential employees are the future superstars of many organizations.
But what they're finding when they get their first gigs is disappointing and demotivating, according to a new study by Accenture, which concludes a failure to train entry-level employees is hampering their development and harming business.
Just how badly are businesses doing at integrating and training recent grads? The poll of 2,000 members of the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014 reveals a sad landscape of dashed hopes and bumbling employers. Graduates come to their first jobs eager to be trained -- 80 percent of 2014 grads told Accenture they expect their first employer to provide formal training. But when the pollsters asked the previous two classes, if reality matched up to these expectations, companies didn't exactly come out smelling like roses.
Into the Shark Tank Alone?
Less than half of employers (48 percent) actually provide training to new entry-level employees, according to the responses of the 2012 and 2013 grads. As Accenture's report on the research makes clear, this is kind of baffling. Reputable study after reputable study indicates that executives view HR issues as one of their pressing concerns. Why then are so many dropping the ball when it comes to this first step in improving their the talent supply chain?
"Training can be expensive and, as with many investments in highly mobile workers, the ROI is not always clear. In a time of high unemployment, it might be tempting to place the whole burden on employees to gain the skills they need, and quickly replace those who don't. Some managers might even believe the best test of talent is to put people into unfamiliar settings and see if they can figure things out for themselves," speculated David Smith, senior managing director and lead for the Talent & Organization group in Accenture Strategy and report co-author, in his commentary on the findings on the HBR Blog Network.
A Better Approach
This might seem cost effective, but the Accenture report argues that the churn and disengagement caused is actually more costly than providing the training (which also certainly can't hurt your employer brand with the class of 2015 and beyond). Instead of simply throwing your youngest hires into the deep end to see if they can, swim, recommends a different approach, which includes:
Even recent grads can be overqualified. You'd worry about hiring an experienced professional for a post way below their abilities. The same applies to entry-level gigs -- if the job really doesn't need a degree, why are you hiring a grad in the first place? "Applicants with overly sterling qualifications may take a job out of necessity, but they may not stay long," cautions the report.
Look at potential more than skills. "HR filters also fail many companies by screening out great candidates because their resumes don't have the required key words-;phrases that are sometimes overly technical," notes the report. "Instead, look for candidates that demonstrate a desire for continued learning and enthusiasm for the job at hand."
Training as carrot. Want the best grads? In a marketplace where training is so often lacking, your talent development program can be one of your most powerful secret weapons. Make sure you let candidates know you provide training through social media and in-person discussions.
They're young but cash still matters. Compensation may not matter as much when you're young and footloose, but don't be lulled into thinking it doesn't matter at all. "66 percent this year cited compensation as the number one determinant [of which employer they chose], close to the 71 percent of 2012/2013 grads," according to Accenture.
Don't get hung up on geography. The study found lots and lots of grads are willing to relocate so don't just search in your own backyard.
Is your decision to provide minimal training to entry-level employees really working for you?