Why hiring young talent creates opportunities for innovation

You could say that, from a professional standpoint, young people have been amongst the hardest hit by the economic effects of the pandemic. Organisations facing financial issues and seeking to preserve their assets were forced to stop hiring new talent, delay the start of grad schemes and put apprenticeship programmes on hold. Understandably, many industries made the difficult decision to protect what they already had.

However, recruitment is now restarting: UK hiring recently hit its fastest rate in 23 years. Opening the door to new talent and ideas is vital for post-pandemic growth in this burgeoning market; without it, companies will fall behind, as their competition bounces back.

Thankfully, governments across the world are announcing incentives for businesses to welcome more young people to their teams, such as a £1000 cash boost for UK businesses hiring new trainees and incentives for encouraging apprenticeships. Organisations should seize these opportunities, both for the benefit of the individual employee and the business.

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Tech-savvy talent sparks further innovation

Beyond temporary financial incentives, there are many reasons why businesses should be seeking out young talent. Employees entering the workforce for the first-time bring enthusiasm and fresh energy to a business, while freeing up vital capacity for more experienced staff. But most importantly, they bring novel ideas and new technological capabilities.

Generally, younger people are well skilled in terms of modern technology usage and are well-placed to champion emerging technologies in an organisation. This is especially true of artificial intelligence (AI): 40% of Gen Z use AI in their working lives compared to only 28% of Baby Boomers. Tools like AI, augmented reality, robotics and the Internet of Things, are key in the shift towards digitisation, critical in our post-pandemic world.

Furthermore, the introduction of new blood has a cyclical effect on innovation. New talent enables the use of new technologies, establishing an environment that is beneficial and attractive to young employees. A tech-enabled enterprise attracts even more young talent into the fold, starting the process all over again. In this way, a virtuous circle of innovation is established, constantly generating new ideas, perspectives and capabilities.

Organisations must give young talent opportunities to flourish

While the job market remains challenging, attracting the best young talent still won’t be easy. In the accountancy industry, for instance, 84% of professionals believe young people have progressive expectations, attitudes and talents that will need to be reflected in the company to attract them.

This starts from day one: according to a Yello recruiting study, 54% of Gen-Z surveyed won’t even complete an application if recruiting methods are outdated. To be competitive, people departments need to consider what matters most to the newest generation entering the workforce. Only then will they be able to capture their interest.

The most successful, forward-thinking firms recognise that factors other than pay are big drivers for young people. A fun and collaborative working environment, days off for charity work - such ‘intrinsic motivators’ are key to maintaining morale and productivity. However, intrinsic motivators are different for everyone. Set career paths or benefits packages, no matter how unique they are in the marketplace, won’t tick all the boxes for every young employee.

It’s necessary then for HR teams to take an individualised approach to employees, curating a tailored career plan with incentives and conditions that encourage them to work at their very best. This level of understanding, however, requires HR to have a joined-up approach to employee data.

Through the Cloud, relevant facts and figures about the precious talent a company possesses become plentiful and easily accessible, anywhere and at any time. HR teams with the ability to analyse and translate this data into actionable and meaningful output will be a hugely valuable asset to the company, as employee wellbeing and happiness increases.

Young people can stabilise disruption

We’re not out of the woods yet. The international business landscape continues to change and so do customer needs. The necessary organisational flexibility will come from having teams that are malleable, attentive and able to use tech to adapt and change constantly. Young people fit this mould well; invest in them and reap the rewards in future stability, motivation and innovation.


Hannah Wright is director at Sage People