By now, we are all aware of the impact a leading-edge development program can have on the attraction, retention and the growth of graduates – but the question that is still most often asked is “what more can be done” and “what are the trends that can help to ensure the best return on investment”?
The impact of a well-structured and designed program is obvious and there is a number of common themes that are starting to appear on the graduate development scene.
1. Online Support and Connectivity
The digital world has continued to advance in recent years and organisations cannot afford to be left behind when it comes to development programs.
A blended-learning approach of online and face-to-face learning is fast becoming the expected approach and acceptable benchmark for in-coming graduates.
Online learning tools (like Graduate Passport), play a major role in both pre- and post-workshop learning and throughout the ‘keep-warm’ period, with a seamless approach to keeping graduates informed and engaged with the organisation. As well as being a be a source of learning and engagement for the graduates prior to day one, it can also provide a social platform for interaction and sharing.
This tool has become the ultimate learning assistance package and provides the individual graduate every opportunity to delve deeper into customised material helping them to better understand various modules, readily access the information and bring the learning to life.
2. Customised Programs
On average, organisations are completing six days of soft skill development each year on top of technical on-the-job training and time spent with buddies and mentors within the organisation. The right combination of these ensures a quality balance that graduates need to thrive.
It’s important to provide soft-skill development early in their journey, beginning at their initial induction and including modules that address and develop their transition into the workplace, their networking skills, business etiquette, their personal brand and the chance to explore a connection with the values and vision of the organisation.
It is vital to remember that many of the graduates that are entering the graduate program are fresh out of university and haven’t had workplace experience – so make the transition as informative, exciting and engaging as possible.
It has become easier in recent years to customise the learnings for graduates and tailor that to the required outcomes. Once used only during the rigorous recruitment process, profiling data is now an extremely powerful tool being used to customise and tailor the development journey for not only an organisations cohort but also as a major identifier in the creation of individual development plans.
The ability to give graduates a clear understanding of their own areas of high and low work-place preferences and teach them key methods to manage, overcome or even leverage these, sets the graduates up for ultimate success in their journey.
3. Graduate Involvement in their Journey
A two-prong attack is needed in this department. Graduates want to be involved and immersed in the development journey that an organisation sets down for them but they also want to have a say in the structure of their program and to make choices that impact their ‘own’ journey.
Involving graduate alumni in the planning of programs means that graduate managers get a clear and transparent understanding of not only the great work already done to deliver a program but also the areas for improvement that will truly ensure it’s hitting the mark for the future graduates and delivering on the recruitment promise.
4. Project based and Community minded
Make development real, it is that simple. Challenge graduates in real-life situations, put the task back on them to solve real life issues in which they will be challenged to learn and develop while on task.
A fantastic concept is the Big Brothers Big Sisters Million $ Challenge, an innovation, entrepreneur and leadership challenge that brings together organisations to create real change in the community while also providing a structured learning and development opportunity for graduates.
5. Retention and Progression
Measuring the success of any program is important and this is usually done through the retention of graduates and the overall perceived return on investment.
The current retention rates of graduates in Australia is still in the 90th percentile well after year one – but the question remains how can you continue to develop your organisations top talent as they progress off the graduate program?
Creating a formal leadership program is an initiative that organisations should be introducing in the 3-to-5 years after the graduate journey is completed. Ensuring that top talent is not lost and continuing to support and develop these future leaders is vital in retaining and progressing them through the organisation. A leadership program like this should be tailored to both the organisation and the individual and be based around the roles and the integral leadership skills required to be successful in the workplace.
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