Do you want to keep your Graduates? Provide Challenge, Communication and Craic!


At this time of year, many employers will be welcoming a set of box-fresh graduates who they have spent much time and money attracting into their organisation. The hunt for top talent starts much earlier in the year  – usually on the college ‘milk round’ with employer representatives taking to the road with a selection of bright shiny freebies and a bright shiny salaries so that their offer might stand out more than that of a competitor. The graduates are delighted to have secured a job and looking forward to earning some real money – but money is not the whole story. We deliver an 8-day graduate development programme to provide them with an understanding of key principles required to succeed at work and so we have first-hand knowledge of what graduates are looking for from their work. Having asked a selection of graduates them what makes them stick around once the initial gloss is gone, we have summarised their responses into three Cs – Challenge, Communication and Craic.

  1. Challenge: Graduates are just out of college and eager to apply their knowledge. They want to be given a sense of responsibility, a sense of belonging from day one. They don’t want to be known as the “Graduate “ but an “Employee”. Throw them into the deep end – if they are set tasks that they need to solve for themselves they are more likely going to perform better, stay longer  and be more loyal to the company than if they are given little or nothing of importance to do and develop bad habits such as browsing the internet and constantly on their phones. Give them the opportunity to impress you!! This means you have to be prepared – what work have you got ready for your new hires? Are you just hoping that the managers will provide wprk for them? Make sure your managers are willing and able to take a graduate under their wing  – provide meaningful work for them to do, set clear expectations in terms of the standard of work and have the appropriate support structure in place for tjem if and when they get stuck.
  1. Communicate: Communication is key – Like everyone graduates thrive on feedback! It is more than likely going to be the graduates first time working in a professional environment and they are still learning. Give them feedback on their progress – Yes, they will make mistakes but help them to come up with a plan to prevent these mistakes happening again. One to ones are so important. They need that secure environment where they can talk to their manager in confidence. One graduate makes the point: “Make sure to act on these actions discussed – there is nothing worse than feeling you are not being listened to it shows no one cares!! If you don’t act on the actions form the One to Ones you won’t have the graduates for very long.” So make sure as a line manager, you leave at least 15 minutes per day or one hour per week for private one to one time with graduates who report to you and ask them some helpful questions such as:
    1. What are you working on today/this week?
    2. What are you enjoying most about your work?
    3. What do you like least about your work?
    4. Do you need any help?
    5. What have you tried already?
    6. What do you think we should do about X?
    7. What have you learned since last week?
    8. Is there anything I can do to help you?
    9. Is there anything you would like to help me/us with?
    10. Are you having fun?

3. Craic: Have a bit of fun! This is critical for new hires – graduates are usually people in their 20’s fresh out of college who would be used to socialising a lot through different clubs, societies and nights out. Don’t make them feel they are working in an institution.  Help them create a  work-life balance. Help them to get to know each other by organising team building sessions, off sites, team nights out etc. One graduate says: “If there is a sense of happiness and if the team are able to have the craic with each other the more likely they are going to trust each other . If you work with your friends the more than likely you will stay!!”

If you or your managers could use some further help, we have a 1-hour webinar available on the topic of ‘Engaging your Graduates so that they stick around”. Call us on 058 75000 to book a place.


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