5 Tips to Motivate and Retain Entry-Level Employees

How does an effective leader motivate and retain her graduate or entry-level employees? We take you through five proven methods to do just that.

There are many great reasons to hire recent graduates and other entry-level staff. That they often work for less money is only one of these. Entry-level employees can be trained to do things just as you prefer. They also tend to ask lots of questions.

This can force you to reconsider policies that may only exist because ‘that’s how we’ve always done things.’ Finally, you’ll find that many entry-level staffers are tech savvy, something that can benefit nearly every organisation.

The challenge is in providing proper employee motivation and on-boarding. This will help ensure that you retain more of the talent that you hire. Below are five tips for doing just that.

Take the time to learn their strengths

Entry-level employees may not yet know how their careers are going to unfold over the next few years. They may be undecided on their five and ten-year plans. Still, most know the sort of work they enjoy doing, and where their talents lie. As their new employer, you should take the time to learn these strengths as well.

For example, an entry-level employee may not know whether or not they want to pursue a career in sales or management. What they likely do know is whether they enjoy and are good at:

  • Keeping paperwork and other items organised.
  • Planning events.
  • Helping frustrated customers find the answers they need.
  • Working with data.
  • Working with people.

Obviously, nobody is going to be able to spend their days only doing tasks they enjoy, or that allows them to use their best talents. Still, organisations and their workers do best when people use their talents, and enjoy their work. Whenever possible, make the effort to assign tasks according to interests and abilities. You’ll get better work, and have motivated employees.

Many companies give new employees a skills assessment. If you do that’s great. Consider expanding this to include questions that measure interests, and soft skills as well.

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Give them goals they can reach in the short and long term

While entry-level employees can come from any generation, most will be Millennials or members of Gen-Z. As a group, these workers tend to value clear feedback. They also value a sense of real accomplishment. If the only path to moving forward in the organisation seems to be a year or more away, it can be difficult for them to stay motivated.

One solution to this is to set short term goals and benchmarks for them to work towards. This can help stave off any feeling as if they are going to be stuck on the bottom rung for the long term. Consider creating a timeline with clear milestones. You might even include some meaningful if small, promotions or title changes along the way.

Not only does this help improve motivation, but it also gives employees a clear picture of their progress. If they’re meeting the goals on or ahead of schedule, then they can feel confident that any evaluations they receive down the road will be positive.

Even if your company has a relatively flat structure that doesn’t support a lot of job title adjustments, you can still set meaningful benchmarks. Some examples are:

  • Closing a sale without the assistance of a supervisor.
  • Opening or closing the store by themselves.
  • Mastering all aspects of your CRM system.
  • Managing a small project.
  • Writing documentation for a software upgrade.
  • Running a small training class.

The milestones you set should be customised to the needs of your company, but also according to each individual employee. Their milestones should reflect their goals and talents.

Finally, most entry-level employees are going to recognise meaningless promotions and milestones. They won’t be motivated by these in the least. You’re better off acknowledging accomplishments with a sincere show of appreciation, and a tangible reward (e.g.: a day off work or tickets to the theatre).

Let entry-level employees know how they are valuable to the team

Ethan Dunwill is a writer who is often tasked with evaluating and on-boarding new hires at Hot Essay Service. He says, “There’s nothing more demoralising for an entry-level worker than a lack of motivating work that is valued by your team.

Yes, entry-level workers shouldn’t expect to make management-level decisions or to be the go-to team members on intense projects. That doesn’t mean they should be relegated to pushing papers or doing grunt work.”

You hire people for a reason. You believe they have talents that can contribute to your company. Give them work that shows them they are valuable to your team. Help them get up to speed so that they are productive, and adding value.

This is something that needs to be embraced by team members as well as managers. Look out for tendencies among more experienced workers to engage in ‘hazing the new guy’ behavior, or to behave patronisingly towards them. Keep in mind that entry level employees who don’t feel valued may take the training you provide to them, and move to a company where they are.

entry level employees

Image: Unsplash

Show you prioritise their professional development

Once you’ve found someone with talents worth developing, don’t stop at offering them a job. Nurture their talents and foster their sense of loyalty by supporting their ongoing, professional development. This can help you to stand out from other employers that often over promise and under deliver in these areas.

Learn what it takes for each new hire to develop within their careers, meet their professional goals, and advance with your company. Then work with them to curate a plan that works for them. Offer a wide selection of educational offerings and personal education time to pursue them. These might include:

  • Attending webinars.
  • Going to conferences.
  • Self-paced, online learning.
  • Lunch and learn sessions.
  • Access to a company library.
  • Tuition reimbursement at local colleges.

The commitment you to entry-level employees’ development can help you attract and retain the best talent.

Keep an open mind and avoid generational stereotypes

Don’t any internalised suppositions you may have about certain generations impact the way you engage with entry-level workers. Nothing kills employee motivation quite like generational stereotypes. While this often applies to millennials and members of Gen Z, it also applies to any other generation.

Avoid thinking of generations en masse, when conceiving ways to keep your entry-level employees motivated. Encourage the rest of your staff to do the same.

In Summary

You will spend less time and money holding onto new hires than you will be recruiting and training their replacements. Create an on-boarding process that helps them to achieve their goals, and helps them to become productive team members quickly.

Show them you support their career goals in real ways, and seek ways to give them work that motivates them. Give them concrete goals, and reward them when they reach them. Finally, treat entry-level employees like individuals, rather than members of any particular generation.


About the Author

Bridgette Hernandez recently graduated with a degree in Anthropology. She studied modern cultures and is currently working on a book that is influenced by her studies and experience in digital marketing.

Bridgette is also a contributing writer and editor at Study clerkSupreme Dissertations and Grab my Essay. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the movies, reading science fiction novels, and sculpting.

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