1 March 2016

How can your organisation adapt to working with graduates?

What can be done to fix the lack of workplace skills among our graduates and how can we help them integrate seamlessly into our organisations?

Each year, 76.6%* of new graduates enter the workforce for the first time. However, research suggests that many of them lack the necessary skills required to work effectively in their new roles.

In a survey of employers who were directly responsible for graduates, it was found that just 1 in 5 of those they worked with were ‘work ready’, with the others lacking basic attributes such as punctuality, team work or the ability to cope well under pressure.

But what can be done to fix this severe lack of workplace skills among our graduates and how can we help them integrate seamlessly into our organisations?

The transition from student life to the working world can be a big challenge. Employers should help to make this as smooth as possible for their graduate employees. This means helping them to understand what is expected of them from the start. An effective on boarding process is a great way to do this. This way your new recruits will get to know the values and objectives of the company and quickly get to up to speed with the role they are needed and expected to play within the organisation. Remember to formalise this process so it’s scalable and easily repeatable.

Alongside this is an overview of the day to day responsibilities as well as the longer term goals for your new graduates as they grow within the company. Ensure your employees know that education doesn’t end after graduation. Many universities don’t prepare their students for the fact that their education isn’t ending, it’s actually just starting. Through the many years of schooling, students are inclined to believe that that’s the last learning they’ll do. What they don’t realise is that there’s a whole new world of learning out there called ‘professional development’, equipping people with the skills they need to be successful in their specific job.       

Help your graduates understand the need for continuous development by explaining from day one the importance of webinars, training courses, workshops and conferences. People that become experts are the ones that get ahead, so assist your employees in becoming exactly that. Formalised and in-formalised training can also help to bridge the yawning gap in skillsets between graduates when it comes to working under pressure, presenting and even influencing others.

Once they understand the importance of professional development, one way your team can adapt to working with graduates is raising the important issue of time management quickly. Eager to impress and get involved, these new starters may feel obliged to say yes to everything, which can make it more difficult for them to manage their time. Work with them to set their priorities and advise them on operational goals. They must be intentional about what they commit to, asking themselves if this commitment fits into their overall strategy, whether that be to meet objectives, get promoted or advance specific skills.

The reality of working in a team, where a whole load of colleagues often have a variety of different ideas and thoughts that must be acknowledged and respected can often be a quite a new concept for some graduates. Choose some of the best team players in your existing workforce and ask your new recruits to make them their role models.

Finally, the most important to thing to remember when adapting to working with graduates in your organisation is that time is a crucial factor. Could it just be a case that some employers are expecting too much of the new recruits too soon? Maybe employers simply need to be more patient and accommodating to those joining their team fresh out of university.  Give your recruits time to settle in and adapt to their new environment and you’ll start to benefit from the huge potential that fresh faced graduates can bring to your organisation.


Sign up to our blog updates