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Hiring young people

When employing people of different generations, consideration should be given to the different life experiences they have had, and how these influence their approach to work. Young people today have had a different childhood to older generations and this influences what they are looking for in a job.

Keeping locals local

Local people employed locally are more connected to the community. They spend their wages locally, they do their weekly shop locally, support local activities, volunteer on local committees. In fact, the value to the local community goes well beyond the dollar value of the wages earnt. They also contribute less greenhouse gases for traveling long distances to work, and spend less time commuting – therefore having more time for family and friends – a better quality of life. They live closer to work and so are less likely to be ‘stuck in traffic’, can juggle school pickups, or have time after work to catch up with mates. It makes good sense to employ locals.

The 2021 Census shows that, compared to the Victorian average, many people move away from the Mornington Peninsula after leaving school and don’t return until they are in their mid-forties. This means there is a lower number of working aged people in the area. Ongoing issues with housing affordability means that it is harder to buy or rent on the peninsula until you are older and more established. This has an impact on younger staff – and therefore on local business. It’s a complex problem.

If young people could be encouraged to stay and work in the region, this would be of great benefit to local businesses and local communities.

Generational differences

Researcher, demographer and social analyst, Mark McCrindle offers some insights into what different generations are looking for. Different slang terms, iconic toys, cars and music devices all play a part in forming how each generation interacts with the world. These sorts of insights can help us understand other generations, and our current and potential employees.

Each generation thinks differently and is looking for different things in their leadership style, their ideal leader, their preferred learning style, who they are influenced by, where they get their advice and the marketing they respond to.


What are younger generations looking for?

Just like we have changed how we do advertising now, the research shows that we have to think differently about the jobs we offer. Living through a pandemic has taught us to value things in a different way, and that we make choices based on our values. The jobs we offered five years ago may not be as appealing now, so it’s important to think about why would a young person choose your business?

The digital age is well and truly here. An impressive 42% Gen Z and 41% Gen Y use YouTube for self learning daily. They know how to text faster then they can talk. In fact they may be more comfortable doing this, than in talking face to face. COVID-19 has been hard for many young people and they may need additional training in social skills and customer service. Try using social media for rosters or team communications. Tap into YouTube or Tiktok for staff self-learning

McCrindle reports that more than half of Gen Z (54%) and 45% of Gen Y seek praise for their contributions at least a couple of times a week (compared to 28% of Gen X and 17% of Baby Boomers). This inclination towards recognition highlights the importance of creating a work environment that resonates with the aspirations of these generations.

 Top tip: Communicate clearly and often. Offer digital information wherever possible. Take the time to get to know your staff and what they need.

How do your onboarding processes make new employees feel cared about and connected. Do you talk about work culture in your adverts, assign a buddy to help them, do regular check ins? Do you know what motivates them? Do you get them involved in making changes or ask them to help you improve the business?

Our young employees care about the planet and people. They want to do something worthwhile and meaningful so the culture and values of the business they work for is important to them. Make a space on your website or social media to talk about how you give back to your local sporting clubs or raise funds for charity, how you support other local suppliers and service businesses, and how you approach sustainability.

Top tip: Make it easy for a prospective employee find out what you stand for. Its important that your digital platforms communicate your business values, explain your culture and provide evidence of your connection to community.

The research shows that people entering the workforce now will have multiple careers in their lifetime. The last of the Gen Z are entering now and are expected to have around 18 jobs across six different industries in their lifetime. Think about how to make your job role appealing to younger people, people who don’t really know what career they are looking to take on next.

Younger people also aspire to have a side hustle. In fact, 37% of Gen Z want to become an entrepreneur and to follow their dreams. To do this they will need transferable skills – so make sure that you include them in your job advertisements, discuss them in the interview and in the performance management process. Encourage your staff to share their experiences on skill development in your team communications.

Top tip: Identify transferable skills in your job advertisements. Offer a program of skills training that adds value to their resume – and to your business.

Not everyone knows what they want to do for a job when they leave school. It is important to give young people a chance to ‘try out’ your business. They may have a limited understanding about what the job roles are for your sector. You know that health care is so much more than they show on the television, and hospitality is more than making coffee, but do they? Include discussion around career pathways in staff handbooks, onboarding processes and performance conversations.

Top tip: Connect with schools to offer work experience programs, give talks at the local secondary colleges, host student industry tours, attend jobs expos and talk about the many different roles (and skills) that your industry offers.

Post-pandemic has emphasized the value of family time and social activity. People now realise that they have choices when juggling multiple jobs, work and study and family. More than ever, flexibility is important. Young people value choices and expect to be included in conversations around flexibility.

Top tip: Consider splitting jobs – a full time role into two part time roles, changing the hours – to fit around further training or family commitments, or rejigging your rosters to enable quality of time off.

It can be hard being an employer when there are so many things on the to-do list. Adapting your approach to generational differences can be challenging, but what are the risks if you don’t?


The information presented in this article was presented on 20 March 2024 at the School to Work Forum, hosted by FMPLLEN and Mornington Peninsula Shire.

A podcast is being created based on the panel discussions held at the event. Subscribe to the newsletter to find out when it is released.

Mark McCrindle was a keynote speaker at the 2023 Mornington Peninsula Small Business Festival. Visit his website.


Content created March 2024

Staff and employment Recruitment

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