School is ending for the class of 2018, and employers across the nation are getting ready to welcome them into the workforce. For some of these new grads, this is when their parents take a first step back and let them stand on their own two feet.
As these new grads’ employer, not only are you responsible for helping them start successful careers; you’re oftentimes helping them start their independent lives. This is a huge privilege and responsibility! To help smooth the transition for these new professionals, consider these six things:
Student Loan Debt
Class of 2017 graduates have an average of $39,400 of student loan debt, which is up six percent from 2016. One can only assume the class 2018 has more. (Student Loan Hero) This debt can be crippling for new grads on entry-level salaries. Additionally, this is their first time managing that debt, as well as rent, cell phone bills and car payments; it can be overwhelming, to say the least! As an employer, there are things you can do to help. You can offer lock arms with financial advisors or your in-house accounting team to host budgeting lunch and learns. Better yet, you can partner with an organization like Peanut Butter to contribute to your teammates’ loan payments! In early 2017, Medix started working with Peanut Butter, and since then, we’ve helped three Medix teammates completely pay off their student debt, with about 30 percent of our team in the program. Any little bit of support you can offer these new grads with their debt will go a long way.
Understanding Health Benefits
As new grads sign up for health benefits by themselves for the first time in their life, they have a learning curve ahead of them. Even us seasoned folks don’t entirely understand the ins and outs of our insurance! Imagine how intimidating it is for someone who has never dealt with it before (it shouldn’t be too hard, because we’ve all been there at one time). “Which doctor do I see?” “Am I covered?” “Wait, there’s that cost difference between the ER and immediate care?” Employers should treat health benefits more than something they legally just need to provide; instead, think of it as your contribution to their wellbeing. Make sure you have resources available to them to help them not just choose the right plan, but how to make the most of it without making costly missteps.
Millennials want purpose; they want to be involved within their communities and work for a company that believes in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). If your company focuses on philanthropy, engage your workforce beyond writing checks. Consider implementing volunteer time off (VTO), and encourage your team to get creative with donating time and resources. New grads will love these opportunities and may even want to start leading them! I can’t think of a better way for young professionals to develop and sharpen leadership skills.
A Place to Be Heard
Younger generations also want their voices heard. They have ideas and suggestions that should not be ignored just because they’re sometimes “lower on the corporate ladder.” Managers, hear them out; keep the channels of communication open on your team. Also, consider surveying for ideas and suggestions they might be nervous delivering face-to-face. Trust me, internal surveying will shine light into blind spots and inspire creativity among your team to make your office an even better place to work! Medix’s internal survey, TinyPULSE, inspired us to loosen dress codes, change compensation structure, implement new benefits and redesign workspaces with standing desks. New grads bring a fresh perspective, and we would be remiss to write them off as “young and inexperienced.”
A Proper Welcome
You might think the hard work is over after recruiting, interviewing and hiring new grads. Sorry, it is not. It’s only the beginning. Onboarding young professionals is just as important as recruiting them! This is the time when you either engage them with your team, culture and values, or you lose them completely. No, I’m not talking about endless orientation seminars; I’m referring to the whole package, literally! A care package with company swag and welcome letters is a great first impression. It shows your new employees that you’re excited to welcome them and proud to call them your teammates. Next, proper training for new employees is essential. How can they be expected to be engaged high-performers if they never learn how to properly do their work? Beyond the ins and outs of their jobs, make sure you’re teaching them about your values, mission and/or purpose. Give them the big picture on why they are here and how they can make an impact.
Safety and Security
My philosophy is that home should be the safest place where you can be your most vulnerable, and work should be the second safest place. Is your office a safe and accepting environment for everyone? Take a step back and a hard look at this. Every teammate, regardless of who they are and where they come from, should feel like they have every chance to prosper. I think about this every day. I am excited to continue locking arms and building Medix’s initiatives here.
Congrats for taking on the responsibility, knowingly and unknowingly, to coach, mentor and inspire the next generation of leaders. You have an amazing opportunity to make a real impact. Bring your full self to this task, because there is opportunity for new grads to impact you in return. All employees need coaching, mentoring and inspiring. In new grads lies new answers, ideas and perspectives, and I can’t wait to learn from the Class of 2018.