In the Know: Developing young talent

March 5, 2020 By    

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on recruiting, motivating and retaining a younger workforce, addressed by supply expert Tony Botts.

Q: What is your advice for developing young talent?

A: It’s 2020, and by now, you’ve probably already read more articles about millennials, Gen Z and boomers than you ever thought you would.

Generally, the most talked-about topics are “how tos:” How do you recruit a younger workforce? How do you motivate a younger workforce? How do you retain a younger workforce?

The answers aren’t complicated, but they require effort and conviction. The common denominator between older and younger generations is this: They’re all human.

Humans have basic needs, and today’s younger workforce is adept at choosing employers that offer the best options to provide those basic needs for themselves or their families.

In no particular order, here are some items to consider if you want to either grow or retain a younger workforce:

Encourage growth. Most people, at least the ones you hopefully intend to hire, enjoy growing. Growth comes in many different forms, though. It can mean earning more responsibility or moving up the decision-making ladder, or simply constant skill and knowledge growth. Take advantage of the local or regional conventions that offer educational seminars, including the Southeastern Convention & International Propane Expo.

As the old management story goes: “What if we spend all this time and money training our employees, and they leave?”

Response: “What if we don’t, and they stay?”

Employees who figure out their employer has little expectation or desire to help their employees grow generally have little reason to help their employer’s company grow.

Offer meaningful benefits. The standard benefits seem to check off most boxes across multiple generations: health care, dental, vision, 401(k)/retirement, etc. All are good things, but benefits don’t stop there.

You likely have employees across multiple generations who desire or might require different perks or benefits. You’re running a business, and costs or expenses always have to be considered. However, maternity and paternity leave is a very attractive benefit today. Flex scheduling or the ability to work remotely is a major perk, too, and usually appeals to employees of all generations.

Take a close look at what you consider as “benefits,” and determine if they actually line up with what your employees desire. Employees have flexibility and are capable of weighing benefits that matter against other determining factors like location, total compensation, travel, etc.

Be realistic. So, you have a vacant role you need to fill. You have the job description ready to go, a “competitive compensation plan based on prior experience” and a list of preferable qualifications, which include education, field experience, licenses or certifications. Do all three actually line up and make sense?

You can post the perfect job description with the perfect position title, but if the compensation and qualifications stick out like sore thumbs, applicants will reject your job opening before you even get the chance to review them. It’s a competitive job market out there, especially with so many options to discover new employment or new talent opportunities using LinkedIn, Indeed, headhunters and other sources. The competitive market works two ways: You evaluate candidates, and candidates evaluate you.

Again, none of these are earth-shattering solutions. But they matter. More and more, we’re seeing upcoming generations begin to put their fingerprints on the propane industry and move the industry forward.

Take a look at some of the things younger generations desire, and you’ll see that many apply to all workforce generations.

Tony Botts is a supply expert at Propane Resources. He can be reached at 913-262-8345.

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