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Employee retention refers to a business’ ability to keep talented employees at the company, and subsequently reduce employee turnover.
With the cost of replacing them so high (in terms of money, morale and reputation), it is crucial for business leaders to focus their efforts on employee retention, especially at graduate level.
High employee turnover can not only be financially costly but can also have a negative impact on company morale, damage a business’ reputation, and prevent top graduate talent becoming an asset to the business.
That’s why taking steps to retain graduates, who are still in the early stages of their career, will be beneficial to your company in the long run.
Effective retention is an extension of the initial graduate recruitment and onboarding processes – and much of it centres around giving graduates the structure and tools they need to succeed, both in the short-term and the long-term.
Starting in the months prior to probation, and continuing throughout their first 6 months, 9 months, 1 year and beyond, successful graduate employee retention should be a priority for every employer.
If you have already onboarded graduates effectively, the process of keeping them at your firm centres around giving them the structure and tools they need to succeed in their job, both in the short term and the long term. Here’s how to do it:
In the probation period continue to organise regular catch ups (at least monthly). In these catch ups, encourage them to speak out about any problems or worries they may have, making it clear that this is the best time to address any concerns.
In their probation review, provide honest and open feedback, explore any concerns they have, and agree upon an action plan moving forward, that includes clear and attainable quarterly goals. When their probation period ends, and if they have passed - make them feel great about it! If it’s viable, offer a small pay rise, an induction into the company healthcare plan or work perks scheme.
Organise ongoing support, particularly for the first 6 months. Whether this be from a supervisor, a line manager or someone in the HR team. Then, set them both short and long-term projects that will challenge and stimulate them for an extended period of time – making them likely to stay for longer.
At the 6-month mark, make it clear you are supporting their learning and development – by offering the chance to gain a qualification, attend a course, or even learn a new skill from somebody else in the company.
Up to 9 months, focus on giving your graduate hires real autonomy in their work. Gaining a sense of ownership over tasks, and having the trust of their employer, will make them feel valued in the company, and ultimately more likely to stay.
Fuel their growth and career development by arranging a catch up at the 9-month mark to discuss the next logical step in their role – and work out between you exactly what they need to do to get there.
Up to 1 year, continue to provide training opportunities, and really invest in their professional development. Now that they are so familiar with the business and what the role involves, ask what tools they think they need to grow further.
Ensure that they are still being challenged and engaged, by setting them projects and tasks outside of their comfort zone, or alongside much more senior employees.
Finally, at their 1 year review, ask your graduate hire about their experience at your company so far – and use their feedback to define and shape your wider employee retention strategy.
The process of graduate recruitment doesn’t end once your new hire has started – in fact, keeping them at your company, and enabling them to thrive and develop in their role, should be high priority for every employer.
If you’re looking to keep your graduate hires around for the long-haul, take a look at your employee retention strategy - checking that your renumeration package matches up to similar companies, ensuring that your employees are always growing.
You should work towards an open and friendly office, offering great work perks and benefits, creating a culture of honest communication, and finally, providing them with training and development opportunities.
More and more companies are improving the flexibility of working hours for their graduate hires. With more and more graduates quitting work to go off travelling, many companies are now becoming more flexible about offering unpaid leave or work sabbaticals if an employee wants to take a break in their career.
Although there are many industries and job roles that this would not be appropriate for, it is a good idea to consider whether having a more flexible approach will help with employee retention in the long term.
Within any business, there are a number of actionable practices and principles that will help to ensure high levels of employee retention, at graduate level and beyond.
Give A Grad A Go are the leading London recruitment agency. Working across a range of sectors, we specialise in graduate recruitment – helping those with up to 3 years’ work experience land jobs at some of the UK's most exciting companies.
Want more insight into the graduate market? Click to download our 2018 Graduate Jobs Report.