While the pandemic brought about drastic changes in our working lives, there is one change that many have welcomed. In a recent Gallup poll, the vast majority of employees in the U.S. (91%) want to continue working remotely at least some of the time.
More than half (54%) would prefer a hybrid arrangement, splitting their time between working at home and in the office while 37% wish to work from home exclusively.
Employers risk losing talent if they don’t allow some form of remote working, with 3 in 10 workers saying they are very likely to look for another job if that’s the case.
While this puts the onus on employers to set up flexible working arrangements that best suit their businesses and employees, they also have to consider one group of workers whose careers may be negatively affected by remote work— the young or junior employees.
Why are junior employees concerned about remote working?
The worries younger employees have about remote working are highlighted by a Generation Lab poll, where a significant 40% of college students and recent graduates say they prefer fully in-person work.
Among the things that young people say they’ll miss in remote working are:
- Office community (74%)
- In-person feedback (66%)
- Mentoring (41%)
- Access to distraction-free workplaces (45%) as younger workers are more likely to live in close quarters with roommates or family
How to help young workers develop professionally in a hybrid/ remote working environment?
In order to find out what actions employers are taking to mitigate the negative impact of remote working on junior employees’ career development, we spoke to managers and business leaders from across different industries. Below are their 5 best tips.
1. Establish clear expectations
While setting clear expectations is what good managers should do, it is especially important when managing junior workers remotely.
We got some insights into how to convey expectations to younger workers from Jacqueline Cripps, a business consultant and ‘millennial translator’ at Jacqueline Cripps Limited. “Being clear on expectations is a must,” Cripps says. “For younger generations, don’t always assume that what you say is understood. Having them relay back to you what you’ve asked, including when tasks are due, can mitigate delays, or tasks not being completed correctly or at all.”
2. Set up a mentorship program
Many business leaders we spoke to recommend assigning mentors to younger employees by pairing them with more senior members of the company.
Lester Mclaughlin, VP of Operations at Blue National HVAC, tells us why developing a mentorship program is important to your junior workers. “Mentorship remains an invaluable way to get ahead in your career, so one of the best ways to kickstart the careers of your younger employees is to match them with an experienced member of your workforce,” Mclaughlin explains. “Even though they’re working remotely, they can still have quarterly calls with their mentor to discuss their career.”
3. Develop comprehensive online training materials
When the pandemic struck and people went into lockdown around the world, many companies found it essential to create online training materials for their employees. This included both onboarding training materials for new hires as well as materials for ongoing skills development training.
As the person responsible for the hiring, onboarding, and orientation for all new employees in addition to supervising and training her own employees, Sara Bandurian, the Operations Coordinator for Online Optimism, shares her experience of training employees for her hybrid workplace.
“Develop guides before the new employee starts,” Bandurian advises employers. “First, the guide can review company policies, procedures, and culture. Be as detailed as possible and try to think of everything a new employee might need to know from requesting leave to Slack etiquette. Then, explain the role and responsibilities in detail. For any standard and recurring duties, include instructions for completing those tasks. This will be easy to refer to and help the new employee get acclimated quickly.”
On the nuts and bolts of creating the training materials, Lynton Howes, Managing Director at Simplify LMS, has some timely advice. Howes suggests, “Ensure that the company's internal training materials are easily accessed online, including from mobile devices, and are engaging and bite-sized, with a focus on video content and live conferencing sessions, which has the greatest appeal for young staff (i.e. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok are the media they gravitate towards). This can be achieved by having education sessions via videoconference or recorded info sessions from business leaders.”
4. Get younger team members to share their knowledge
One piece of advice that will immediately benefit both your junior employees and your company comes from Maya Rotenberg, VP of Marketing at Stoke Talent. Rotenberg says, “As soon as young staff have mastered something new, get them to make a training video for the incoming group. Create employee-made corrective resources for difficult tasks and when things get challenging.”
In addition to helping your younger workers gain recognition and exposure across the organization, this tip would also produce useful training materials for your team members.
5. Encourage network development through small group discussions and projects
Gill Brabner, Director at Resound Training & Development Ltd, makes a practical recommendation on helping your young or newer employees develop their networks in the company. “Invite your remote workers to participate in discussion groups,” Brabner says. “These need to be small groups of 6 to 10 people where everyone can participate and be heard. Invite a good mix of participants from across the organization as this helps networking, relationship building and problem solving.”
In a similar vein, Rotenberg suggests “creating small semi-formal work crews. Young and new employees have fewer established relationships in the workplace and often no network. Identify pairs or groups of no more than three or four people who can form a small work crew. Create challenges for them to complete together. Mix different ages together if possible.”
While the offer of flexible remote/hybrid working is attractive to many employees, employers should also ensure that those who are likely to be negatively impacted by remote working— that is, younger workers— have the resources and tools they need to progress in their careers.
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