New college graduates are full of confidence and multitasking techniques, but their first roles in the workforce often leaves them feeling unfulfilled.
The culprit? It might not be entry-level pay or the smallest cubicle, but a factor you wouldn’t expect: lacking opportunities to continue learning in their first jobs.
The 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey, released recently by Accenture, found that 80 percent of 2014 graduates expect a formal training program from their first employer. But only about half of 2012 and 2013 grads reported receiving such training.
One of the strengths of the GenY set is their willingness to learn and to try new things. In response, managers have an opportunity to help their younger employees grow. Not sure where to start? Try these ideas: (Click here to tweet this list.)
Empower your employees
If your company is small or lacks the resources to offer a formal training program, toss the keys to your employee. “This is exactly the kind of training and career path that many creative people want: to be able to set challenging goals for themselves and then try to meet them,” Richard Branson explained in an advice column on Entrepreneur. And with self-paced online learning programs like Skillshare and Codecademy, your protégé may be able to study at the office.
McLean Robbins, a freelance writer and social media trainer, noted that brown-bag lunch presentations offer younger staffers a chance to not just learn about relevant topics, but also to groom their public speaking and presentation skills.
Be a student, too
Whether you’re providing the coaching or just the encouragement to self-starters, remember that you can also learn from from GenY staffers.
A fresh graduate can be especially helpful in teaching you the ropes of new tech tools or social media trends. When you’re willing to learn — and be taught — you foster engagement. Engagement and a sense of being useful can in turn lead to company loyalty.
“[GenY workers] seek to continually improve themselves, and by providing clearly defined metrics for appropriate behavior and even promotions and success, these employees are much more likely to stay engaged,” Robbins said.
Share your experience through mentoring
Mentoring may not come with homework or formal programming, but real-world experience shared through conversation can be valuable to younger employees.
For example, Discovery Communications’ MentorNet program matches employees with more senior staffers in their department or field of interest, whether the best match is down the hall or around the world in a global office.
“I was very interested in learning more about digital content and strategy on a global scale, and the company matched me up with someone overseeing digital content for Discovery Networks International,” Kim Tran explained. “Talking to my mentor on a weekly basis was so exciting because she had over a decade of experience in the industry and was incredibly insightful. I learned so much just through our conversations.”
Tran has since left Discovery, but said that her mentor offered candid advice that helped her make decisions about the next step in her career.
If you manage GenY employees for your company, how do you offer them opportunities to learn?
Lisa Rowan is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.