Straight outta college: Understanding and retaining young talent

Entering the workforce in the 21st century is difficult. In fact, 78 percent of adults (including baby boomers) claim it’s harder for young people to get a job compared to previous generations. It’s a transition I can personally attest to: The shift from college to full-time employee has been the most difficult one for me to date. After walking across the stage to receive a diploma, the guides and answers seemed to disappear, and those same feelings of confusion and uneasiness affect almost all young 20-somethings to some degree.

That’s why it’s crucial that—as the last of Gen Y enters the workforce—companies keep younger employees engaged by creating and implementing a strong company culture with an emphasis on transparent internal communications and collaboration.

Strong Internal Communications

Companies need to structure internal communications to align with the shift of generations in the workforce. According to a Mattersight Corporation survey, millennials prefer person-to-person interaction over digital interactions. Despite technological advances in just about every industry, most sectors are still “in the people business,” as they say, whether you’re talking about customers or employees. One could argue that, with all the digital advancement technology has brought, it’s more important than ever that employees (and customers, for that matter) still get to experience person-to-person interactions instead of resorting to an archaic version of instant messenger.

In that same vein, Red Fan has instituted a strong internal communications policy. It starts with a staff meeting on Monday to go over weekly updates and news, giving employees the opportunity to address concerns, obstacles or tasks that need completion. Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan’s founder, has a true open door policy, so any employee can swing by her office for a quick brainstorm or question, and the accounts team (based upstairs in the historic Helms House), is always working with doors open so team members can exchange ideas and suggestions.

Of course, for larger companies, implanting this type of internal communications strategy can be cumbersome. If you’re in need of ideas to help scale your internal communications, drop us a line.

The Importance of Transparency

Transparency matters, especially from the top down. When employees were asked what the main problem was that held their companies back, 50 percent of employees argued that it was the lack of transparency within the company.

It’s critical for a business’s success that its CEO and other executives be transparent when discussing the company’s goals, vision, successes and failures, as well as those of its employees.

I’ve had multiple opportunities to give ideas and participate in client meetings. Kathleen speaks about PR in Red Fan’s way which means including our values with every client and being transparent with each account we acquire. The more time I spend with the firm the more I realize I have found my purpose and path into adulthood.

The Importance of Collaboration

Teamwork is crucial regardless of what industry you’re in, and it’s especially true at a public relations firm. A survey conducted by the Queen’s University of Charlotte found that only 27 percent of employees feel confident with their communication abilities in the workplace. A poor internal communication structure translates to poor collaboration and poor external communications. Red Fan focuses on the importance of collaboration by scheduling time for the accounts team to get together, have impromptu brainstorms and assist team members with various accounts.

Every Friday, our agency takes the time to have an accounts team happy hour. This tradition has given me the opportunity to get to know my co-workers better. This also gives the team time to talk about client work and brainstorm ideas that flow into the next work week.

In my past six months with Red Fan I’ve met role models, developed friendships and learned more than I could imagine because there are structures and mechanics in place that emphasize collaboration and transparency. Implementing such policies can mean a much smoother transition for young employees, especially when you have a leader and company that support you. For more insights on internal communications and company culture, visit our #AskKathleen vlog series.

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