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Empowering young people in the workplace
It goes without saying: today’s junior employees are the future leaders and decision-makers of our organisations. However, because of their different needs and expectations, the next generation of employees often seems like an enigma for hiring managers and senior executives.
Understanding young people in your company and equipping them with the skills and support they need is key to enable them to grow and succeed. This year, for Wear it Purple Day, we’ve rounded up some of our top tips on how you can celebrate diversity in the workplace in Australia by empowering young people from all walks of life to thrive in your company.
What are young people looking for from employers?
Young people already make up a significant part of Australia’s workforce to date, and their influence will only grow in the future.
By 2025, millennials will form 75% of employees worldwide, and generation Z – those born between 1997 and the early 2000s – will be well into their careers in their chosen fields. As these generations have grown up in a different world context, their career goals differ from Baby Boomers and generation X. Within your organisation, you need to understand their key motivators when it comes to career and life, in order to give them the best environment to achieve their best.
Rather than seeking stability and remuneration, young employees are looking for opportunity and job satisfaction. They want to understand the bigger impact of their contribution, and feel connected to their employer’s vision and mission. Career development and benefits are important, as are flexible working conditions, and diverse and inclusive work environments. For young employees, their definition of diversity in the workplace goes beyond gender: millennials and gen Z believe in inclusion for everyone, from LGBTQIA+ employees to those from different cultural backgrounds.
As a key example, more Australian businesses are getting behind Wear it Purple Day – an annual awareness day around the support and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ youth, aged 16 to 24, with an emphasis on mental health and providing them with safe spaces and environments.
“We, at Pride in Diversity, encourage employers to commemorate such days as it sends a message to the employee community that their organisation is empathetic to their LGBTQIA+ community,” Mark Latchford, Associate Director at Pride in Diversity said.
“We have found Wear it Purple Day in Australia is commemorated extensively because the focus on mental health and youth resonates with the wider community, in the workplace and beyond.”
Hayden Offord, Consultant at Michael Page underscored the power of wearing purple on Friday 30 August as a visual representation of support.
“Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+, are an ally or role model, getting involved in Wear it Purple Day helps youth within the community see that they are accepted and do not have to walk this journey alone,” Offord shared.
“Michael Page’s participation in this event is especially important as LGBTQIA+ youth are one of the most at-risk age groups to experience anxiety, depression and self-harm, and as a result, experience fear and uncertainty about who they are and what that means for their future.
“During such a developmental stage of our lives, we are still formulating our sense of self and place in the world. As a global organisation with a large outreach, we stand behind this initiative because our purpose is to create opportunities and change lives for our candidates and clients – and, by extension, their family and friends.”
Here are our key tips to empower young people in your organisation.
Celebrate diversity and inclusion in the workplace
According to Deloitte, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are considered some of the most important factors for young people in Australia’s workforce. Despite this, they often feel like there’s a disconnect between their expectations and priorities, and those of their employers.
Building strong anti-discrimination policies that celebrate young people, regardless of background, gender or sexuality, goes a long way in establishing an atmosphere of diversity in the workplace. Examples of this include hiring managers who are trained on equal employment opportunity principles, and recruit from a range of sources, including LGBT organisations or through Job Access which focuses on providing opportunities for workers with disability.
Your organisation can also support young people by building clear career pathways that encourage junior employees from all walks of life to imagine the possibilities of their future with the company. Managers and HR should work hand-in-hand on career progression and planning that celebrates diversity in the workplace, meaning they encourage all young employees to create and follow a strong development plan. Finally, inclusion should come from the top: a diverse leadership committee sends a powerful message to young employees.
Encourage mentoring for young people
Mentoring is one of the best ways to empower young people and set them up with the right resources and support network to develop both professionally and personally. Mentoring programs encourage knowledge transfers between generations, provide opportunities to share new ideas and perspectives, and nurture the pipeline of future leaders within your company.
Whether it’s an informal or formal mentoring program, give young employees the opportunity to be matched with a seasoned team member or executive that can help them grow and develop their skills. Reverse mentoring programs also offers young people the opportunity to give back to senior staff, by opening them up to new technologies and fresh approaches.
Invest in their growth and development
Only 40% of millennials and one third of all gen Z employees believe they have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workplace. Contrary to popular belief, young people are loyal to employers – but only if they believe the company is investing in their future. By presenting the right opportunities and support to help them grow, they’ll be a valuable asset in the future of your company.
Growth and development programs can come to life in a number of ways, including:
- inviting millennials and gen Z employees to attend industry conferences or seminars
- supporting them with dedicated training programs, or funding courses to help them upskill
- investing in continuous learning through online learning courses, or funding continued education
- including young people as representatives in company committees to champion various ideas
- providing young employees with the opportunity to take on an additional project or responsibility
Ultimately, by creating a supportive environment for young people in your workplace your organisation will reap the benefits of a dynamic and energetic team, which will innovate and lead your company well into the future.