Business must do more for Early Talent for everyone’s sake

Graham Hales, CMO at Chemistry, believes it’s in everyone’s interest for businesses to do more for today’s Early Talent. In fact, as he explored the issue and uncovered its all-too-real challenges, he found himself asking: Who’d want to be a young person in 2017?

Sure, it would be nice to feel young and beautiful again, but let’s be real: the world is extremely challenging for young people today. Businesses must not just recognise this – they must do their bit to help. It’s a societal issue with deep ramifications and, if brands want to gain positive acknowledgement in their role as citizens, this is a real issue where help is needed.

Picking a ‘career’

Deciding on a career has always been hard, but in a business environment that’s in a process of constant renewal, demanding niche skills (that probably haven’t even been defined yet), it’s increasingly valueless. These days, it’s as much as you can do to choose an area of interest or passion, then, if other people happen to share that interest or passion, hope that a job will follow. I’m not sure how I’d have explained that to my parents – or how I’ll respond when my children spin that to me in a few years’ time.

Making a career decision in the context of subsequent debt also makes it that much harder (according to the BBC, the average student left university £44,000 in debt in 2016). Not only is education increasingly unaffordable, but the pace of change within businesses also means its relevance is being severely challenged. If you’re qualified in say, Digital Marketing in 2017, by definition (with a soupçon of Moore’s Law applied) you will only know the principles in 24 months’ time. As linear, structured careers feel ever more historic, and maintaining the relevance of your qualification is increasingly difficult, that debt feels less and less justifiable.

What to do instead?

– Apprenticeships: They can help to alleviate the debt issue and provide a real, practical alternative to further education, but the Government’s reticence to engage with the ‘dark art’ of branding means that Apprentice schemes still suffer the outdated, prejudiced stereotype of relating to blue-collar, low-skill work only

– Gig Economy: It’s open for business and is conducive to a more easy-going, balanced perspective on what kind of ‘experience’ we need. It takes the importance away from making a ‘career choice’ and towards selecting the right ‘stepping stone’ for what you want to do next. In this context, your career can be a series of stepping stones, where transferable knowledge is gained and focused around your individual ambitions. It can also be conveniently and appropriately applied to future recruitment process. Too often, though, movement within and across careers is stymied; job software is great at matching square pegs to square holes, but if you want to do something different, your data won’t match up – which is severely limiting in what is a dynamic, fast-moving and ever-changing job market.

Adopting better recruitment processes

Businesses would get significantly better results for themselves, as well as for their candidates, if they had a clearer idea of what they really wanted to do and developed their recruitment processes to coincide with those objectives. At Chemistry, we use our 5-Box Model to look at a combination of an applicants’ Intellect, Values, Motivations, Behaviours and Experience during the hiring process. Consequently, we build a multi-faceted and robust picture of applicants for the organisations we work with. It’s important to note that Experience is the least likely indicator of future performance in this context; just because you have done something before does not mean that you will be engaged in doing it again within a totally different set of dynamics. Besides, Experience has less of a role to play in Early Talent anyway…

What Great Looks Like in Early Talent
In the absence of Experience, most organisations simply try to select the ‘best’ of this year’s graduates. The real goal, however, is to select the graduates who will best thrive in your unique organisation. To define What Great Looks Like for your Early Talent and hire to that profile. Equally, this presents a vital opportunity for graduates, too, in finding the environments where they are set up for success based on their unique employment ‘DNA’.

When Chemistry defines What Great Looks Like, it’s a direct result of analysis of an organisation’s best people. For Early Talent, we can look at previous cohorts to see who has gone onto be most successful within each employer’s idiosyncratic environment and effectively help the organisation employ more graduates like their best – i.e. the graduates predisposed to deliver the best of the organisation’s behaviours.

At the same time, this means organisations are avoiding the people who won’t fit in culturally or have the motivations to perform brilliantly in the role. This is not to say the graduates they avoid are ‘bad’ people, rather that they are the wrong fit for this role in this organisation. Early deselection is also of benefit to the applicant – although ideally they should be left with an orientation to the type of organisation they would better suit.

Appealing to young people
If businesses want to appeal to young people, they must – quite simply – become more attractive to them. When I was CEO of a consulting business, I remember thinking ‘travel’ was our biggest competition for talent. It became clear to me that we need to engage with the things young people want and harness those things for organisational gain. Offering opportunities for foreign travel, for example, will appeal to an intake that welcomes new experiences, and while it may be costly to move young people around the world, accessing people who thrive on change and new environments could offer significant long-term value to your organisation.

Businesses must respond to challenges like this soon or they’ll simply run out of people who want to work for them. Engagement rates are already startling low around the world, so it’s clear that not many businesses are doing a very good job so far. A recent Gallup poll showed that just 15% of the world’s one billion full-time workers are engaged at work, meaning, conversely, 85% are disengaged. People are exchanging their time for a salary in a transactional manner, but they’re evidently not engaged or delivering the value of a super-motivated employee.

With this in mind, businesses must recognise their role as developers of Early Talent. They should be nurturing and growing their talent, but people have become commoditised – their individuality quashed as they are meekly crow-bared into Gantt charts. Big data has compounded a lack of emotional engagement; whilst organisations talk of wanting human creativity and engagement, data has made many jobs menial and functional as dashboards exert their power across organisations and orchestrate decisions like Hal in 2001 Space Odyssey. Work is lacking texture and fulfilment. It doesn’t have to be like that. We need to create cultures and roles in which people thrive and develop. By enjoying work and understanding our development within it, we engage with businesses, become over-productive and better value for ourselves as well as the business. This isn’t idealistic. This is simply how things should be.

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Aug, 07, 2017