According to Gallup, an American research-based, global performance-management consulting company, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. In Gallup’s 2016 research across 230 organisations in 49 industries and 73 countries, it found clear and well-established connections between employee engagement and customer ratings, profitability, and productivity. Engaged employees are more likely to stay which helps a company keep its recruiting costs down and its productivity up. Retaining talent gives a company a more tenured workforce from which to promote and a better reputation in the market as an employer of choice. This gives a company a tremendous advantage in attracting more great employees and waging a successful campaign in the ongoing war on talent in South Africa.
Now this begs the question: what can a company do to increase its employees’ engagement? Gallup has identified 12 factors that feed into employee engagement: clear job expectations, necessary resources to do a job well, the ability to operate from strengths, recognition for a job well done, concern about the whole person, encouragement regarding employee’s development, recognition of employee’s input, job importance, committed colleagues, a friend at work, conversations about progress, opportunities to learn and grow.
A third of these engagement factors is related to development and growth. Employees want to know that companies are willing to put their money where their mouths are and develop them so that they can become better, add more value and ultimately receive and reap the rewards of new opportunities in the organization.
As an organization or HR professional, you may be wondering what types of developmental opportunities will best serve your graduate hires. As a former Professional Development Manager at McKinsey & Company, I saw that many graduates and early career professionals, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have not had sufficient exposure to the corporate world and they are operating off the “work long and hard and get knighted as the chosen one” mentality like I was when I started my career. Many graduates approach their professional careers with the same strategy that they employed in school. The playing field is more leveled in a university setting and there is no quota for the number of A’s that can be given. Everyone can be a winner in school; however, that is not the case in a corporate space. There are usually a limited number of opportunities so each person must find a way to stand out and get those opportunities. In addition, the definition of success is not as clear cut as it was in university since success can differ by company, department, and role. It can also be a tremendous adjustment for graduates to operate in corporate spaces that are culturally and socially very different from how they grew up. Graduates don’t understand that many of the rules in a corporate space are unwritten. One must find mentors and sponsors to help them know and understand those rules and to help create opportunities for graduates that they could not create for themselves. Finding mentors and sponsors requires one to network and build relationships with people who may not look like them and whom they may feel they have little in common with. I believe that many, if not all, of these skills can be learned if young people have the proper training and guidance. Unfortunately, many young, talented South Africans step off the corporate track because they have not had this training and they’re unable to successfully navigate these rather tricky environments.
Personal Branding for Graduates can help them understand the organizational culture, uncover their strengths and stand out on purpose in an authentic, successful, relevant way. As a young person starting my career, I had no idea what my strengths were or what unique contribution I could make. Personal Branding can help answer these questions for young graduates. I’ve addressed how graduates are helped but the organisations can also be strengthened through these courses. An organization will have a group of graduates who integrate seamlessly into the culture, bring their fully empowered selves and strengths to work, and contribute wholly to addressing the organisation’s challenges and opportunities. And what organisation doesn’t want that? At the age of 35, a Personal Branding course helped me uncover my authentic power and my life’s purpose which is empowering others to be their best selves. I can only imagine where my career would be had I had this training when I started working. The feedback from Personal Branding also helps an organization understand from a high level what strengths their employees possess and what development gaps the organization needs to help fill. Remember that every employee is an ambassador of your company’s brand wherever he or she goes so helping a graduate build his or her brand will only help your company’s brand. Your company has invested so many resources to get that talented person into a seat at your organization so take that investment one step further. Make sure your employees know their strengths, bring their full selves to work and add value to help take your organization to the next level. Your company’s brand and their brands will thank you for it.