Leadership

Attracting and retaining young professionals by tapping into what really drives them

I have recently been involved in a development path for young graduates (ages 23-26) helping them to identify what drives them in terms of their motivation and how they can use this awareness to communicate their personal brand in job interviews.

The work started with the first lockdown in 2020 and it is still ongoing using the diagnostic questionnaire Motivational Maps as a practical way of understanding their motivational drivers. 

Aggregating the results for the 50 young graduates that have gone through the process so far, what emerges is that:

  1. Their motivation comes from achieving their full potential – seeing the steps they’re making to achieve what they aspire to become 
  2. Out of 9 motivational factors, their top 3 drivers are 1) purpose, 2) learning orientation and 3) creativity
  3. Their overall change index score – ie the extent to which they are receptive to change -is 65 out of 100, meaning that they show a higher than average positive attitude to change and are quite risk-friendly

Looking at these aggregate results, we can make some connections with what organisations may need to bear in mind to attract and, later, retain such talents in the unpredictable times ahead. When I refer to organisations I will use an inclusive ‘we’ as I am in the same situation of understanding how to adapt past approaches to better attract and retain talent that will enable our own company to grow.

Motivational driver 1: purpose

Being driven by purpose means doing things that are valuable for their own sake. A task, an activity or a choice to be made needs to have an intrinsic value and be significant in its own right. This can result in a constant search for ‘something better’, such as a cause, that does not exist now.

Implications for organisations: if the quest for meaning creates an insatiable curiosity, a real need to see the bigger picture… 

Why don’t we make a conscious effort to explain the ‘why’ of projects, tasks, activities that we assign rather than just the ‘what’ or the ‘how’? 

Why don’t we make a greater effort to provide regular feedback – especially positive appreciation to show the real impact they are having on those around them?

Why don’t we ensure we allocate some customer-facing roles as that feeds the desire to make the difference?

Motivational driver 2: learning orientation

Being driven by learning, on the other hand, means owning and showing mastery of a subject. Having the opportunity to specialize in a field and teaching it to others is highly rewarding. 

Implications for organisations: if the quest for expertise creates a real search for mastery… 

Why don’t we make sure we have an excellent induction program in place?

Why don’t we enable these young professionals to be in positions in which they can share their learning experiences and cascade them or pass on their social media skills to the older generation?

Why don’t we select high-quality online packages around technical, interpersonal and managerial skills to enable them to keep on learning?

Motivational driver 3: creativity

Being driven by creativity means looking for innovation, cutting-edge solutions and being able to perform at one’s best by having new problems to solve and challenges to overcome. Bringing into existence what wasn’t there before is the essence of this motivational driver. 

Implications for organisations: if the quest for creativity creates a real search for newness…

Why don’t we assign to these young professionals business areas in which a fresh perspective is needed?

Why don’t we offer truly innovative development opportunities?

Why don’t we create working spaces with colour, rhythm, nature, light to create a stimulating environment?

There are thousands of ways of attracting and retaining young professionals in our organisations. The great opportunity now as we get ready to transition to a blend of f2f and remote working is to do this by first understanding what they find truly energizing rather than assuming that they need what we believe they are looking for.

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Marianna Amy Crestani

Marianna Amy Crestani is Head of the Coaching Practice at TCO International – Accelerating Global Agility. With over 25 years’ experience, we have supported more than 60,000 people in over 100 organisations across 140 countries. We provide customised solutions and open workshops for individuals, teams and entire organisations in the area of global agility. For more information or questions contact m.crestani@tco-international.com