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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.
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. Here’s how to do it:
Up to probation, 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.
Up to 6 months, organise ongoing support – 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, working towards an open and friendly office, offering great work perks and benefits, creating a culture of open communication, and finally, providing them with training and development opportunities.
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.
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