7 Ways to Respond When an Employee Quits

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Employers often must deal with turnover and resignations of their best people. When an employee quits, there are many right and wrong ways to respond. Here are 7 critical questions to ask to guide your responses and actions when an employee says “I quit.”

1. Do you value the employee?

When an employee approaches you about their transition, how you respond to the employee depends on how much you value them. If you value the employee, you have two options: do everything you can to keep them at your organization or accept the resignation and show gratitude for their contributions. The option you choose will likely depend on the reason for the resignation and your relationship with the employee.

As an employer, you have an obligation to help address any issue that is preventing you from retaining a top performer. Sometimes these issues are personal and beyond your ability to impact, but many other times there will be something you can adjust in the workplace. This, however, should ideally be done before the employee approaches you with their resignation, because by that time they have likely already made a firm decision.

If you don’t value the employee, accept the resignation without negative commentary, request it in writing, and quickly coordinate logistics for their transition (final paycheck, etc.). Keep your dialogue with the employee limited, professional, and operational in nature.

2. Do you want their feedback?

While most employers conduct exit interviews or surveys to gather feedback from exiting employees, not all organizations consider whether they actually want the feedback of these employees. In fact, it’s not uncommon for employers to mandate exit interviews. Let’s face it though, not all employees’ opinions should be counted equally, especially if they are poor performers. You could find yourself implementing changes to feedback that are simply unproductive complaints.

Be sure that the employees’ opinions and suggestions are worthwhile before you spend time and resources on gathering their feedback in the first place. Top performers, new-hires, and highly tenured employees are all those whom you will likely want to solicit feedback. Their ideas and opinions are often helpful in making changes to workplace and on-boarding programs.

3. Do you have a replacement?

Do you have a replacement who is currently employed at the organization? An employee can quit, leave, or get “hit by a truck” at any time. Knowing this, good managers always make sure that they have a replacement for themselves and for the members of their team, in the event of an emergency. They ensure that someone is cross-trained in the role and can step to the plate if needed. As employers and managers, you should always be asking yourselves: “What if xxxx leaves?” to better your business and minimize risk. Otherwise, you’ll be scrambling to figure out how to fill your or their shoes, and this lack of planning can potentially disrupt your business.

4. How will you retain their knowledge?

Many employees carry a great deal of knowledge, talent, and expertise that is sometimes difficult to train or hire, especially those with significant tenures or unique skills. Increasingly, organizations are focusing on knowledge-sharing practices to cope with this issue before they encounter significant talent losses. The bad news is that it might be too late to retain the knowledge of your key employee if you haven’t already implemented knowledge-sharing practices. These practices could include succession planning, mentoring, knowledge management systems, and procedural/workflow documents which capture their knowledge before it’s lost.

5. How will you notify others?

A best practice when notifying others about a resignation is to start the communication process intimately, with the employee’s managers/supervisors, then with the employee’s team or department, and finally the entire organization. Alert staff of the transition, the timeline until his/her departure, and plan for replacing the employee.

If you want the employee to leave immediately or don’t trust them to work productively until their last day, it’s best to send an immediate written notification to your employees and not use this tiered communication approach. Keep the communication general and let employees know that their coworker has moved on to other career opportunities.

6. How will you respond in their remaining days?

If the employee is going to continue to work through their last day, your organization will need to decide how to deal with their existing assignments and project load, and transition their customer relationships. You’ll need to determine which projects the employee will finish, and which ones will be directed to other employees or put on hold.

In addition to responding to work issues, you’ll also need to determine how you will respond to the departure. It’s best to remain positive about the employee’s new opportunity and wish them success, even though you may be upset with the decision.  Also, decide if or how your organization will wish the employee good luck in their new endeavors, perhaps through a social gathering. Oftentimes, coworkers appreciate a formal opportunity to “send off” the former employee. This, however, isn’t always appropriate.

7. Do you want to keep the door open for a future relationship?

When an employee leaves, you can choose to close the door on the relationship or maintain it. Increasingly, employers are keeping the door open and maintaining relationships with employees who have left their organizations. Social networking tools, in particular, provide an opportunity for them to do this easily. This helps organizations continue a positive relationship with their previous employees which can benefit their recruitment efforts. For example, previous employees can serve as excellent referral sources, and some employers use their “alumni” as a network to attract applicants. These organizations recognize that former employees will be asked about their past employment, potentially by their job candidates, and their honest responses can help (or hurt) their organization’s hiring efforts and reputation.

Another way that organizations keep the door open is by having re-hire policies, which allow the former employee to be considered for employment opportunities in the future. Oftentimes, the employee may end up being even more valuable once they have developed more industry experience and skills, which can benefit your organization.

Inevitably, a talented employee will choose to leave your organization at one time or another, and how you prepare for this departure ahead of time and respond as an employer and manager can make a difference during their transition. Streamlining your exit strategies, creating a good exit interview, developing standard communication practices, implementing knowledge sharing, preparing possible replacements, and maintaining positive relationships with your “alumni” are all ways that you can effectively respond to unavoidable resignations.

Additional Resources

Supervisory SeriesIn the series, participants will gain an understanding of their role as a supervisor as well as employment law as it relates to common supervisory issues. They will also learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance, and coaching.

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5 Common Types of New Leaders

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5 Common Types of New Leaders

Some employees aspiring to be managers or leaders struggle at first when they take on these new roles. Here are 5 common types of employees that grapple with management and leadership responsibilities, and suggestions for how to help them in their roles.

1. The high-achiever

Characteristics:

This is a leader who excelled at their previous roles, but is fearful of taking on more responsibility outside of their comfort zone. Their anxiety about performance tends to get in the way of their effectiveness, especially in leadership roles.

They can tend to get too caught up in tasks, believe that nobody can do the job as well as them, fail to distinguish between urgent and less important priorities, obsess about how they compare to others, take few risks, and starve themselves of personal growth into new areas because of their fears of failing.

While their style may have been effective in previous roles, when they move into management or leadership roles, they find themselves frustrated, unable to produce, and under-confident in their new jobs.

How to develop:

Unfortunately, this individual will need to experience failure and adversity to grow, even though it may be a difficult experience for them. That’s part of being a leader.

They should be challenged to grow personally, even if just incrementally over time. Expose this employee to new things gradually—not all at once.

Help them develop strategies to attain high performance in their new role because achievement is important to these employees. Praise them as they grow in their new role and have small successes. This will help develop confidence that they can perform well as a leader.

2. The technical expert

Characteristics:

This individual has solid technical strengths for which they were promoted into a management leadership role, perhaps in mathematics, IT, or engineering.

The technical expert, however, over-relies on their technical skills (often because they enjoy using these skills) which are less important in their new role.

Their technical strengths are so strong, that they may lack soft-skills or view them as less important to leading others than technical competencies. They tend to struggle with communicating, developing and training employees, and delivering results through others. While they are well-respected for their technical competence and are a rich resource of knowledge, they tend to struggle with imparting this knowledge on others that they manage or lead. They also may have trouble building a team and achieving the same results through others.

How to develop:

This individual may need to weaned off their technical tasks gradually. Having them let go of all of their technical responsibilities too quickly may lead to disengagement in their new role.

Help them share technical knowledge with their staff, through knowledge sharing tools, processes, and interactions (such as mentoring, training, etc.).

Knowledge and expertise may be so engrained in these employees that you will have to explore tasks thoroughly. Lastly, spend more time training them on soft skills, especially communication, team-building, and engaging others.

3. The overconfident manager

Characteristics:

These employees may be less receptive to learning how to lead, thinking that they know “all there is to know” about leadership. They may have even already had some management or leadership experience, and are usually charismatic, out-going, and dominant, but their confidence tends to get in the way of their success.

Frequently, over-confidence may lead these types of employees to exert too much command and control, be too bossy, and focus less on participation and collaboration with their teams.

They tend to like to receive credit for their team’s accomplishments, but may push blame for failures on others. They may try to gain influence by using their title or status, and not by engaging others. They like holding power and authority, sometimes to a fault, which can lead to micromanagement.

How to develop:

This individual benefits from successful role models who display appropriate leadership behaviors, such as senior leaders. Usually their approach to leadership stems from how they’ve been managed in the past or inaccurate perceptions of how leaders should act, so showing them other ways of leading can be helpful—especially if it’s a prominent person in the organization whom they respect.

Experiential learning and training is also crucial for these employees, who often need to see the negative results of their actions and behaviors. Employee feedback (such as an employee survey or 360) may also help the leader understand how their actions affect the engagement and perceptions of their staff.

4. The friend

Characteristics:

This is a leader that is congenial, well-liked, and has above average soft-skills. They are extremely supportive of their employees and approach management interactions more like coworker relationships. This individual refrains from having tough or crucial conversations with their employees and fails to acknowledge or manage conflict, frequently avoiding it altogether.

They often don’t manage performance well, and put up with poor results to maintain a positive relationship. In essence, they focus on being their employees’ friend, rather than their manager or leader. 

In fact, some of these leaders may be managing previous coworkers or friends of theirs. They may even engage in behaviors that are considered unprofessional for a leader, such as participating in informal social activities, becoming Facebook friends with their subordinates, or gossiping about other employees.

How to develop:

This individual doesn’t necessarily need training in soft skills, but does need training on core management principles, such as performance management, feedback, and conflict management.

These will be uncomfortable topics for this individual that you may need to address multiple times.

They may also need to be coached on how to balance creating supportive relationships and interactions with their employees with results and getting the job done.  Some will also need to better understand the role of the leader and how to act professionally with their employees.

5. The inexperienced

Characteristics:

Perhaps this is a young employee, a “high potential,” or an individual with no experience supervising or managing others. It’s not that this employee is a bad leader per say, they just don’t have the knowledge, skill, or experience yet to lead. Usually these types of leaders are promoted into leadership roles by necessity or because they have exceptional talents and potential that the organization finds valuable. If promoted before well-groomed, expect these employees to make mistakes—and lots of them.

How to develop:

This individual should usually be developed into a leadership role over time, rather than promoted and then trained. They may benefit from not only management and leadership development programs and curriculum, but also mentorship.

Through mentoring relationships with other leaders and managers, these individuals will learn from those that have plenty of experience managing and leading others, which can balance out their experience gaps.

These individuals will need on-going development as they grow into leaders—not just an initial training program.

Whether your current or aspiring leader is a high-achiever, technical expert, overconfident manager, friend, inexperienced, or a combination of any of these, learn to recognize the challenges your employees face in new management and leadership roles and provide them support to not only help them be more successful, but also enjoy their new roles.

Leadership Development Training Programs

Leadership Development Training

ERC offers a variety of leadership development training programs at all levels of the organization, from senior leadership teams to mid-level managers to first time managers and supervisors.

Train Your Employees

Most Maintenance Jobs See Pay Increases

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According to the 2011 ERC Wage Survey and the 2011 ERC Salary Survey, the majority of maintenance jobs surveyed have experienced pay increases since 2009. Both hourly and salaried maintenance jobs showed consistent rises in pay from 2009.

Maintenance Jobs with Hourly Rate or Salary Increases from 2009
Hourly Jobs

 

2009

2010

2011

Janitor/Custodian

$11.76

$11.85

$12.68

Machine Maintenance Mechanic - Senior

$20.02

$19.53

$21.00

Machine Maintenance Mechanic - Junior

$17.50

$18.21

$20.40

Maintenance Electrician - Senior

$21.64

$22.30

$22.77

Maintenance Electrician - Junior

$18.40

$18.66

$25.68

Maintenance Worker - General

$16.49

$17.90

$18.59

Source: 2011 ERC Wage Survey

Salaried Jobs

 

2009

2010

2011

Facility Maintenance Manager

$62,980

$65,046

$70,835

General Supervisor – Maintenance/Trades Function

$48,969

$63,247

$66,897

Supervisor – Custodial Services

$33,262

$33,434

$45,464

Supervisor – General Maintenance

$54,216

$55,828

$59,030

Source: 2011 ERC Salary Survey

For more information about our ERC Wage Surveys, please click here, or for more information about ERC Salary Surveys, please click here

Win Trust & Influence: 6 Tips for Improving Employee Relations

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In HR, how you approach everyday employee relations can make a difference in whether or not your employees and managers view you as a trusted advisor. Here are ways that you can improve your relationships with managers and employees at your organization to win their trust, respect, and confidence.

Interact and communicate with employees on a daily basis

Make regular interaction a priority and it will help you do your job better. Walk the plant floor or the office. You’ll get to know employees personally, understand their concerns, and better identify work problems that you can fix. Meet with employees regularly, either one-on-one or in small groups. The best HR professionals have won the respect and trust of their employees by taking an interest in their day-to-day lives and creating an open dialogue.

Maintain their trust and confidentiality

Be a trusted resource that employees can turn to discuss problems, conflicts, or other issues. Handle employees’ concerns with integrity and professionalism. Refrain from discussing confidential issues with other members of your team or outside your department, or gossiping about employee matters. If you gather employees’ feedback on any topic, always protect their confidentiality and anonymity. Don’t try to pinpoint who said what.

Advocate for your employees

Know what drives retention and engagement for your employees. Advocate for and champion programs that enhance employees’ work experience and those that are important to your workforce.  Over time, these improvements will be noticed by your employees and they will value your contributions. We have seen many HR professionals gain the respect of the employees’ and leadership teams by creating great places to work.

Gain the respect of your managers

Develop strong relationships with your supervisors and managers. Learn about them and their departments and ask them how you can be of better assistance to their needs. Understand their demands and make their jobs easier, not harder. Create tools and systems and offer training to help them do their jobs better and more efficiently.  In doing so, you will have more luck collaborating with them to manage employees.

Make an impression from the start

Use on-boarding as a way to build your reputation with employees as a trusted advisor. Build a positive rapport prior to them coming on-board by staying in contact, being responsive and accessible, and providing them with all of the information they need for their first day. In addition to facilitating orientation, describe your role to employees in ways that you want to be perceived. Reach out to new-hires multiple times within the first 6 months to gather feedback, provide support, and solidify a positive relationship.

Be objective and balance interests

Execute and enforce policies and procedures consistently and fairly, with no exceptions. Additionally, balance serving all of your internal customers – leaders, managers, and employees. Learn to look at issues objectively from all sides of your business and balance these three interests. Be collaborative in developing and implementing policies. Don’t develop policies without considering their perspectives. 

 If you want to broaden your influence, achieve better results, and improve relationships with your internal customers, consider using these approaches. We have witnessed many HR professionals win the trust and confidence of their managers and employees by adopting these positive employee relations practices.

FMLA Best Practices

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Not surprisingly, employee medical leave requests can spike in the summertime. If your organization is challenged with managing medical leave in the workplace, here are several best practices for administering the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

1.    Update and communicate your policy. Make sure your organization has an updated policy and communicates this policy to employees and supervisors. Your policy should be detailed and conform to the latest Department of Labor (DOL) regulations.

2.    Request advanced notice. The simplest way to limit FMLA’s impact on your business is to request notice of leave at least 30 days in advance, which will allow you to make other staffing arrangements and coordinate the proper paperwork. 

3.    Use medical certification and recertification forms filled out by an employee’s doctor instead of doctor’s notes. If there is incomplete or insufficient information on the form, follow-up with the employee and request additional information by a certain time, or directly contact his/her doctor (with the employee’s permission). Frequency and duration are typically areas where you may need to ask for additional clarification.

4.    Don’t be afraid to ask for more information or a second or third medical opinion if you aren’t able to determine whether the health condition or situation qualifies. Also, don’t be afraid to deny an employee’s request if it doesn’t meet the standards of a serious health condition or if he or she doesn’t comply with your policy.

5.    Assess if ADA applies. If you determine that an employee does not qualify for FMLA for their health or medical condition, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) may still apply, in which you will need to accommodate. ADA may apply for approved FMLA as well.

6.    Meet one-on-one with employees. Meet with employees one-on-one to review the FMLA process. Create a checklist or process outline for them that details which forms they need to submit, by what deadlines, how payroll/benefit deductions will be dealt with during their leave, points of contact for changes in their leave, and other important information.

7.    Treat all FMLA-related occurrences equally and be consistent with your requirements. For instance, if you request a return to work form from one employee, make sure all employees fill out this form as well. If you require one employee to use PTO concurrently, make sure all employees are required to do the same.

8.    Train and update supervisors. Ensure that supervisors are well-trained on their role in the FMLA process and when they need to direct their employees to HR. You should also communicate to supervisors details about the employee’s leave, specifically schedule changes.

9.    Limit disruptions to your operations. Intermittent leave can often be more disruptive to a business’s operations, depending on an employee’s role. Request that employees schedule their treatment or appointments in ways that are least disruptive, or consider transferring the employee to a different job (although be aware that there are certain legal guidelines for transfers when FMLA applies).

10.  Use rolling 12 month periods instead of a calendar year, fixed 12-month leave year (such as by an employee’s employment anniversary), or 12 month period based on the date that an employee’s FMLA leave begins. Using rolling periods helps prevent stacking of leave and is favored over other methods.

11.  Require concurrent use of other paid time. Many employers require employees to use paid leave concurrently, such as PTO. This can help reduce abuse of FMLA. But also be aware, that some progressive employers do not require this, and even offer other additional paid leaves to supplement FMLA and support their employees.

12.  Offer flexible schedules. A variety of flexible schedules (compressed work weeks, part-time options, flexible start and end times, allowing employees to make up time, etc.) can help limit use of intermittent FMLA, by providing an employee with the flexibility to manage their schedule versus requesting leave for intermittent situations. 

13.  Research suspicious behavior or patterns. If you have honest suspicions or reasons to believe that an employee is improperly using FMLA, you are entitled to research these situations or patterns of behavior. For example, if you suspect that an employee is abusing FMLA (such as infamously taking off on Mondays and/or Fridays), research the issue or ask the employee’s health care provider if the patterns of time off are consistent with the employee’s condition or course of treatment.

14.  Reduce manual tracking and administration. Manual methods (i.e. spreadsheets) are prone to error especially when tracking intermittent leave and other leave concurrently with FMLA. Frequently, employers may miscalculate hours which costs their organization time and money. Using a system specifically designed for FMLA tracking or an HRIS can be beneficial in reducing error and yield excellent ROI.  

15.  Conduct due-diligence when applying discipline and terminating an employee on FMLA or for excessive absence. Review employees’ absences to make sure that they were not FMLA-qualifying. In addition, make sure that you are able to prove that you would have laid off or fired the employee regardless of them being on FMLA leave.

As a final thought, the best advice we can offer relative to administering FMLA is to talk with employees. Make sure they understand the process, and openly discuss any questions you have with them about their leave and the certification process. Also, when in doubt, we always recommend that employers consult the DOL regulations pertaining to FMLA. These regulations provide a great deal of information about how to execute and administer leave.

Please note that by providing you with research information that may be contained in this article, ERC is not providing a qualified legal opinion. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application. 

 

 Additional Resources

HR Essentials
This course gives a broad overview of the human resource function, and is designed for anyone involved with human resources. It gives attendees the skills necessary to face difficult HR situations and compliance issues, and is appropriate for HR Specialists, Administrative Assistances, Controllers, Office Managers, Recruiters, HR Generalists and Executive Assistants. Topics to be covered in the session include FMLA and other labor laws/employee relations issues.

CareWorks USA
Our new preferred partner CareWorks USA provides a variety of FMLA administrative services including leave tracking, reporting, communication with employees, compliance, and much more. ERC Members receive a 5% discount off per employee per month fee or a $500 discount off Initial Set-up Fee.

 

ERC Health Renews Record 95% of Pool

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2011 represented ERC Health’s middle market program’s largest renewal ever, with 95% of the groups eligible for renewal staying with ERC Health. One of the most compelling reasons groups found to remain in the pool was the ability for the pool to have created such a rate differential with the market. 

The ERC Health program over the years has released well below market trend pricing year after year allowing for a significant difference versus higher new business rates from competitors.  In fact, 2011 was the eleventh consecutive year that ERC Health rates have beaten the market averages. The experience of the July 1 renewal is a testament to the program’s structure and to the groups statewide that leverage ERC Health for long term cost savings and better health.  

The ERC Health middle market program is designed for companies with more than 50 benefit eligible employees and is underwritten by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Some of the benefits include free fitness club memberships for employees, on-site wellness coaches and access to all major hospital systems!

“We are thrilled to share this news with our ERC Health organizations,” comments Pat Perry, President of ERC. “The program is continuing to grow and be a model of how to proactively manage your health insurance costs. It allows organizations to control costs both short and long term while providing new and innovative ways to keep employees happy and healthy. The focus has been on reducing claims through health education, risk reduction, wellness and proper plan designs.  We’re delighted with these results, but are already looking forward to more enhancements to the ERC Health program later this year that will make it even more exciting for participants.”

ERC is one of Ohio's leading organizations dedicated to HR, workplace programs and practices, training, health insurance and consulting. ERC membership provides employers access to HR information, expertise and cost savings that supports the attraction, retention, and development of great employees. We also host the nationally recognized NorthCoast 99 program and sponsor the ERC Health insurance program.

Mixed Salary Trends for Engineers

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According to the 2011 ERC Salary Survey, engineering jobs have shown mixed salary trends from 2008. Many engineering jobs showed modest or no increases, while others, particularly high-level engineering jobs, showed higher increases from 2008.

 

Engineering Jobs with the Highest Salary Increases from 2008

 

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

% Increase from ’08

Engineering Cost Estimator

$49,504

$56,360

$56,055

$59,600

20.4%

Engineering Project Manager

$75,712

$81,441

$84,169

$89,685

18.5%

Engineer III

$65,300

$71,520

$71,208

$77,027

18.0%

Engineer IV

$77,295

$82,000

$81,400

$87,476

13.2%

Manufacturing Engineer Manager

$84,678

$83,991

$83,991

$92,500

9.2%

 

Among the jobs that showed more modest increases from 2008, and only slight increases or no increases from 2010, were Application Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Industrial Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Plant Engineers, Process Engineers, Quality Engineers, and lower level Engineers (Engineer I and Engineer II). Salaries reported for engineering technician jobs followed a similar trend.

For more information about the ERC Salary Survey, please click here

ERC partners with Aztek to provide members web marketing solutions

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NORTHEAST OHIO – ERC has partnered with Aztek (www.aztekweb.com), one of Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most prominent web services firms, to offer its members discounted pricing on Aztek’s web services. ERC members will receive a preferred rate on the following services:

  • Website design and development
  • Web application design and development
  • Mobile application design and development
  • Web Marketing (Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media)
  • Hosting

Aztek’s time-tested methodology (Aztek’s Process) for developing sophisticated business solutions is a guarantee to fit your business model. From manufacturing to nonprofit, from extreme sports to conservative law firms, Aztek has worked with over 550 clients, hosts several thousand websites and has the flexibility, as well as the experience, to customize a solution to fit your business needs. 

“We’re very excited to partner with Aztek and offer this savings to our membership,” said Pat Perry, President of ERC. “Their experience and array of web services make for a great fit with our organization.” 

“We are very pleased to become a new Preferred Partner with ERC. It will be a true compliment to the other Preferred Partner opportunities available to ERC members,” said Kevin Latchford, Aztek’s COO.

ERC is one of Ohio's leading organizations dedicated to HR, workplace programs and practices, training, health insurance and consulting. ERC membership provides employers access to HR information, expertise and cost savings that supports the attraction, retention, and development of great employees. We also host the nationally recognized NorthCoast 99 program and sponsor the ERC Health insurance program.

20 Tips for Managing Young Employees

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We hire them for their fresh knowledge, strong technical skills, and growth potential, but managing young people effectively requires a different strategy than some of your other employees, given their lack of business and work experience. Here are 20 tips for managing young workers.

   1.  Help them transition from college to work. Transitioning from student to employee can be a time of confusion, anxiety, exploration, and excitement. Recognize that each employee handles this transition differently and requires a different level of support from your organization. Think of ways that you can support your new employee in this time of change, whether that’s help with relocation or financial support for continuing education.

2.    Assign them to the right manager.  A young employee needs the right type of manager – one that enjoys teaching, mentoring, developing, and spending time interacting with their employees, since this is the focus of their interests. They also need a manager who is a strong communicator, isn’t afraid to provide frequent feedback, and values employee ideas and suggestions. Your traditional or untrained managers may not be the right fit for a young employee.

3.    Create a good on-boarding program. While it may be tempting to drop your young employee into an assignment right away with limited training, young employees usually need a more detailed and lengthy on-boarding experience to get started on the right foot. Spend the time up-front to make sure they are well-trained to carry out their job responsibilities, understand the business and its products/services, and are comfortable with your operating procedures.

4.    Fill the experience gap by providing just that: experiences. Job experiences should be many and varied and the employee needs to be involved in actually doing the work. Some managers are resistant to putting a younger employee on a more challenging project because of their lack of experience; however, recognize that the employee will only be as valuable to your organization as you let them be. With the right amount of task structure and supervision, potential risks can be minimized.

5.    Invest in them early. Make sacrifices in productivity early on to develop skill gaps in your young employees. Top organizations invest in young employees early in their career – and oftentimes right from the day one. They assess skill gaps right away, lay out structured development plans, and focus heavily on training and development in their first few years – sometimes even in lieu of a full workload. Once the right foundation has been laid, these organizations find that young workers are better equipped to contribute at a higher level later in their careers.  

6.    Give them attention. Young workers know that they have a lot to learn from others and expect more attention from their boss as a result. They don’t necessarily want autonomy, especially if they aren’t skilled yet at their job tasks. Once they become skilled, autonomy may become more valuable to them. They do expect to be heard and want their employers to listen to and value their input.

7.    Provide constant feedback. An annual performance review is not enough performance feedback for your young employees. They like and will need constant feedback as they navigate their tasks and responsibilities. They will also need affirmation as they progress. Managers should meet with young employees often for these purposes.

8.    Re-think how work is done. Younger employees don’t always approach work and life separately and may see these as blended and integrated. This may result in use of work time for personal affairs and use of personal time for work. As a result, they may be more productive working at home or using a flexible schedule.

9.    Provide variety. Young workers typically have a short attention span. They thrive on variety and change and may be your strongest change-agents.  They are usually most productive when working on short-term projects and quick tasks, or longer projects that are broken down into smaller tasks or phases.

10.  Use them for their strengths. They may not be your most perfect assets from the start. They’ll make mistakes and you’ll see the effects of their inexperience over time, but their energy, fresh knowledge, willingness to learn, growth potential, and creativity are all valuable to your organization and likely reasons for which you hired them. Use them with these strengths in mind, and over time with good direction and development, the rest with usually come.

11.  Offer “intrapraneurship” opportunities. Growing research shows that many young people want to be entrepreneurs. To keep their fresh, new, and great ideas inside your organization, allow or offer “intrapraneurship” opportunities – projects or opportunities that allow them to create or be involved in the creation of a new product, service, or start-up scenarios. Use their entrepreneurial spirit for your benefit.

12.  Be or give them a mentor. An experienced mentor can help young employees learn from experiences that they haven’t had and provide an objective sounding board for career discussions and work problems. They can also suggest or help facilitate developmental activities. A mentor could be another individual in the organization (perhaps a top performer), a leader, or the employee’s supervisor. Typically a mentor is 1-2 levels above the employee.

13.  Show them clear, defined career paths. Young employees are focused on advancement. They want to know their career options and work towards a specific career goal. If your organization doesn’t have clear career paths, discuss alternative career and developmental opportunities in the organization and show examples of how other young people have advanced.

14.  Monitor workload. Young workers don’t know what their limits are yet and are eager to take on new projects and responsibilities. They also don’t feel as safe saying no to additional responsibilities because they lack experience. Similarly, keep in mind that young people are not always skilled at managing their time and prioritizing work.

15.  Emphasize professionalism. Young employees may not be educated on the right ways to conduct themselves in a workplace setting. Expect that they may not know the basics like how to lead a conference call, create a meeting agenda, network, manage a project, general business/email etiquette, or more touchy subjects like handling emotions, hygiene, and dress in the workplace.

16.  Choose and monitor work events carefully especially if there is alcohol involved. After-work outings, happy-hour events, and other social gatherings are a great way to attract and engage young employees, but consider limiting alcohol consumption, choosing locations that minimize risk, setting ground rules, and dealing with inappropriate behavior on-the-spot to avoid liabilities.

17.  Differentiate between friends and coworkers. It’s not that friendships in the workplace are bad (in fact, they can be very positive), but young workers have a tendency to view their coworkers as friends more than other employees. These relationships can get too personal and may be inappropriate (i.e. dating relationships), depending on your policies. Plus, when friends start getting promoted and managing one another, these relationships can pose problems.

18.  Explain key policies. Hone in on certain policies with young people such as dress code, attendance, harassment, substance abuse, and social media/internet usage, and specifically what actions are unacceptable in the workplace and the consequences of those behaviors.  What was acceptable in college isn’t always acceptable in the workplace, and some young employees miss these differences.

19.  Provide benefits education. Young workers usually lack knowledge about their benefits – how health and dental insurance works, how much to contribute to their 401K, if they should use a flexible spending account, what an employee assistance program provides, etc. They may also need some help with financial planning such as paying off student loans, saving for a house, budgeting, to name a few. Spend additional time discussing benefits with your younger employees and provide financial planning resources.

20.  Be an example. Young people will emulate who you are. They will view you as a model for their behavior, copying your actions and words. In their first days and months, they are attuned to the norms of workplace behavior and will take on positive and negative behaviors they observe in their work environment. Recognize their malleable nature and use this time to mold them in positive ways.

Additional Resources

 Training for Your Young Professionals

This can’t-miss, two-part series for your organization’s young professionals, covers communication skills, professional etiquette in and out of the workplace, and the traits of a strong leader.

Mid-Level Manager Training

Employers Develop Younger Workers

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Cleveland– According to the 2011 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Grad Pay Rates & Practices Survey, most Northeast Ohio employers invest resources in training, development, and performance management activities for younger workers, particularly new graduates.

The survey shows that over 70% of employers provide new graduates with an orientation during their first week (72%), conduct performance evaluations (71%), and provide regular feedback and coaching (71%). Additionally, more than half of employers provide formal training (56%) and access to a mentor (52%). Fewer (20%) offer management in training programs for new graduates, however.  All of these developmental activities were more commonly offered by non-manufacturers than manufacturers. Similarly, larger organizations tended to be most likely to provide these, although they were still commonly used by small and mid-sized organizations.

Specific training and development opportunities provided to their new graduates as cited by respondents included: on-the-job training, corporate culture training, product/industry/market training, mentoring, shadowing, and targeted leadership development programs.

The results of the survey show that organizations are making investments in training and development for their younger professionals and emerging leaders. These organizations understand the benefits of on-boarding and developing younger employees early in their careers for their businesses and in developing a pipeline of talent.

View the Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey

This survey reports data from Northeast Ohio employers about their internship and recent graduate employment and pay practices.

View the Results