On 12 May 2022, Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa (CEO of Career Ready) spoke to Victoria Ayodeji (Career Ready Youth Advisory Board Chair), Daniel Snell (Co-founder of Arrival Education) and Roisin Moss (Early Career D&I Talent Acquisition Partner, Citi Group) about the importance of building a youth positive workplace culture. Here’s what they had to say:
What is youth positive culture and why is it important?
A youth positive culture goes beyond the generic image of free breakfasts and pool tables. It’s a culture which supports young talent allowing them to be seen, heard and valued. Young talent are the future workforce so ensuring that your organisation can foster a culture to support them is invaluable.
“When it comes to youth positive culture, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and the key word is culture. It’s about understanding what your organisation stands for, what the perception is externally and what words do colleagues use to describe your organisation.”
Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, CEO of Career Ready
It’s important to understand that the values and ideals of Generation Z are different to previous generations. Research shows that Gen Z are one of the most socially conscious generations of recent times valuing people and the planet. As well as this, the idea of a ‘job for life’ has changed with the new generation as the average job retention is just 2.8 years. Also, young talent are not one-dimensional professionals, as it’s now a norm to have multiple side projects tapping into skillsets outside of their day job. And whilst being digitally native, it’s also the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet.
These are just some of the examples of differences between Gen Z and previous generations. However, it is important to understand these to ensure your culture can attract, support and retain talent.
Story telling is so important because people fundamentally connect with other people. If I’m reading a story on Instagram about a senior leader who took time off for maternity leave and how the company was receptive, it makes me think that in 10-15 years time if I’m in that position, I will also feel welcomed and included in that culture.
Victoria Ayodeji, Career Ready Youth Advisory Board Chair
Key steps to building a youth-positive culture
Building a youth-positive culture starts with having the courage to reflect on an organisation’s current culture. This can help to change things which may not be conducive to attracting or retaining new talent. This can be a difficult task as critically evaluating an organisation’s status quo is always challenging. Some key question to ask could be:
- What does my organisation stand for?
- How do other people perceive my organisation?
- How do people talk about my organisation?
- Does my organisation support diverse talent and empower difference?
What practical steps can be taken:
- Are we utilising platforms to connect and communicate with young talent?
- Do we have talent programmes which reach out to young people?
- How are we connecting to young people before they make a decision about their career?
- Do we listen to our entry level talent and provide a safe space to gain valuable insight?
It’s important to remember that the source of creating a youth positive culture is young people. Therefore making young people apart of the conversation is vital which is the difference between youth engagement (making young people apart of the conversation) and youth leadership (responsibility on that community for a solution).