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Welcome to the Workforce of 2022

by Julie Tuggle-Nguyen

The college class of 2022 is about to graduate and enter the workforce. Their adaptability and resilience have been battle-tested by the pandemic. And now nearly two million of them will be entering the labor force. How can you ensure that you are a visible and viable career choice for these newly minted professionals?

Maybe you are ahead of the curve having done on-campus recruiting. Or maybe you were able to offer an internship during Covid. But more likely than not, it was put on hold. The question now is how to play catch-up and best position yourself for what is likely to be an intense recruiting season.

Even if you have not been actively recruiting on campuses, you likely have relationships with colleges and universities in your area either through your or your team’s alumni networks. Reopen the doors to communication. You may also ask yourself what are the feeder schools for the technical skills that you require? If you don’t have those relationships, how do you make some inroads?

You might consider participating in job fairs. But before you do, review your marketing and recruiting materials. You have spent the last two-plus years reshaping your workplace. You have wrestled with flexible hours, virtual meetings and workspaces that run the gamut from remote to in-office to hybrid. You have created new policies and procedures. Do your recruiting materials reflect that? Do the words and visuals represent a true picture of who your company is today versus who you were two years ago?

This new class is eager and prepared to enter a reshaped, reimagined, refreshed workplace.

If they are not looking for set hours and a corner office, ask yourself what are they looking for. This takes me back to the topic of values and purpose. In February 2022, The New York Times cited a survey where 61 percent of millennial workers in the U.S. — currently the largest generation in the work force — said they preferred companies that take a stand on social issues, and 49 percent said they would quit a job that did not align with their values, both significant increases from the year before. Millennials and Gen Z in particular seek an environment that is collaborative and teams that are diverse and inclusive.

I can only relate to you from my own experience that diversity and inclusion really matter. At Midwest Bank Center, 66% of our executive leadership is diverse. Our peers include, Black, White, Bosnian, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ colleagues. Recruits want to see that they will fit in, that they will have a voice. Diversity sparks innovation and contributes to a culture that is respectful and fun.

Once you have attracted candidates, turn your attention to benefits and salary as tools to secure the hire. Be creative about the ways you think about benefits. Helping pay down student loan debt may be far more appealing to these recent graduates than a 401k. Likewise, tuition assistance for an advanced degree may help attract and retain strong candidates, a clear indication that you care about their growth and advancement. Dedicated time off for volunteer work could be the tie-breaker in attracting purpose driven colleagues.

And of course, there is salary. I am going to be discussing this in more depth in an upcoming column, but there is one important point to mention: It is not about the salary, until it is! As part of (or all of!) the HR team at your organization, it is your job to be grounded in the compensation numbers. What is the going rate in your industry for entry level positions with similar responsibilities? Do you have reliable industry sources that can provide relevant and current data?

There is no doubt that HR managers are facing challenging times in building their teams. So much has changed in the workplace, but one thing remains the same: Job number one is to build a strong, passionate team to move your business forward. Soon there will be two million bright, eager graduates looking for their first door to open. Be ready to welcome them in.

Julie Tuggle-Nguyen is EVP of Human Resources, Midwest BankCentre.

Submitted 44 days ago
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