Managing Your Hybrid Graduate Talent Pool

4 Minutes

One of the new normalities of post-lockdown, post-pandemic life is the shift towards hybrid or remote models of work across many industries. As a result, recent university students are joining a graduate talent pool which is increasingly likely to be entering the workforce, onboarding and training from their homes. 

With 75% of Gen Zs and 76% of Millennials noting that they prefer to work for an employer that offers a flexible working model, it’s important to understand how to manage graduates who are adjusting to a world of work that is changing to accommodate new ways of delivering products and services. 

Almost half of each demographic—49% of Gen Zs and 45% of Millennials—currently work remotely, so by offering flexibility to your graduate employees, you can craft an impactful EVP and incorporate the productivity benefits that can be found by helping employees balance their professional and private lives. 

This article explores the importance of offering hybrid work for new hires from the graduate talent pool. We’ll also discuss technologies and tips for managing a remote team, helping you to facilitate career success for your graduate employees.

If you’re interested in learning more about employee retention, see our guide on How to Retain Employees in a Challenging Market after you’ve finished reading this piece.

How to Facilitate Remote Team Building

There are several ways for organisations to ensure that they can carry out vital remote team-building and management activities. From the tech we’ll look at closely in the next section to straightforward tips for managing a remote team that will be discussed in this section, managers have a lot of tools at their disposal to ensure that new graduate hires can get on board and up-to-speed quickly. 

Friendly Meetings

When working from home, long commutes into the office are exchanged with long hours staring at computer screens. The lack of physical interaction can certainly be discouraging for those transitioning from student life to the professional environment. 

Friendly virtual meetings are a great way to ease recent graduates into remote or hybrid positions. These can occur once or twice a week, and can be backed up with in-office events that boost morale, such as quarterly round-ups where each team can present their successes over the last three months. 

Focusing on building a supportive, communicative and friendly culture creates opportunities for your workforce to socialise, get to know colleagues, and facilitates inter-departmental collaboration. This is an excellent way for candidates from the graduate talent pool to get to know the established team and their senior colleagues without the pressures of a professional meeting on a specific topic, helping to produce a welcoming environment despite geographical distance.

Personal Buddies or Mentors

Imposter syndrome is not uncommon amongst candidates from the graduate talent pool. Whilst most professionals experience this to one degree or another when entering a new position, graduate talent can be particularly susceptible, particularly given that they’re moving from the academic environment—where each piece of work receives detailed feedback and recommendations for improvement—to the workplace, where feedback can be often be limited to weekly or fortnightly 1-2-1s. 

This emotion of feeling underqualified, not good enough to carry out the core responsibilities of the role, and struggling to understand what everyone else is doing can truly harm graduates’ confidence in these crucial early stages of their careers. 

However, ensuring that the graduate has a mentor or buddy to assist them with professional and personal support can be beneficial to combat this imposter syndrome. 

Such support can take a number of forms: 

  • Discussing the best dress code for virtual and in-person client meetings

  • Learning best practice email communication skills with clients 

  • Feedback—whether constructive or positive—on completed work

  • Exploring issues with work, professional relationships or training, and creating a plan to address these problems

This buddy, partnering or mentorship method can be implemented for fully-remote, hybrid or in-office settings, and can foster inter-departmental relationships and innovation by selecting mentors that work within a different business function to the graduate talent. Ultimately, it can help to ensure that graduates have a safe, casual, and open space to discuss matters relating to their professional development.

Establish Clear Goals

Establishing clear goals and checking in regularly with your graduate candidates can go a long way to succeeding in your remote team-building efforts. In addition, well-signposted deadlines and detailed briefs provide direction for new recruits—helping to ensure that all team members are working together, avoiding confusion and inefficiency.

When remote employees clearly understand how their work contributes to the wider organisational vision, they are generally more motivated and engaged—particularly important when working alone. 

At the same time, establishing clear goals helps new candidates from the graduate talent pool to accept accountability and ownership of their work, which is crucial if they’re looking to progress in their careers. Employees with clear goals can measure their progress, celebrate their wins, and identify areas for improvement that can be further explored in meetings with their mentors. Consider offering a teamleader apprenticeship which can enhance their skills and help you to build a pipeline of leadership talent.

Balance Personal and Professional Life

Remote work can seem like the most comfortable option until the line between personal and professional life becomes blurred. 

This can quickly lead to burnout, particularly for early-career employees. New recruits are often focused on training for core responsibilities and processes, meetings with internal and external stakeholders, deadlines, and embracing workplace cultures—in short, they’re spinning several plates, and if one drops, it can cause delays and productivity losses in other areas.

According to research by Pareto, 58% of people have reported regularly working over their contracted hours at home. We must prevent graduates from falling into this trap by clearly setting out daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly plans, and helping them to discover ways to maximise their efficiencies and stick to a schedule. 

In a remote setting, burnout can be prevented by using the aforementioned buddies or mentors—they can check in with new hybrid or remote recruits, ensuring that daily responsibilities are met. Whilst the need to work overtime in the professional environment is sometimes necessary, it’s important that graduates—whether in-office or working from home—are encouraged to take their lunch breaks, follow their schedule and log out after work hours. 

Tech Helping to Streamline the Process of Managing Remote Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the widespread adoption of technologies and tools to help colleagues continue collaborating, and managers conduct remote workforce management, often despite increased geographical distance. In the post-pandemic world, these technologies are still a vital part of the workplace, particularly as more organisations embrace remote or hybrid models. 

Video Conferencing Software

It’s likely that candidates from the graduate talent pool will be familiar with the most popular video conferencing solutions in the professional environment. From lectures and seminars to pub quizzes, COVID-19 saw huge numbers of people take up these technologies. 

There are several options for virtually connecting your workforce, enabling you to facilitate collaboration and remote team building: 

  • Zoom

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Cisco Webex

There are free and paid options for organisations to utilise, with their suitability often dictated by business size and how clients communicate with staff. For example, smaller organisations might opt for a platform such as Zoom, which is popular among consumers, whilst larger organisations might look to Webex as they’re already utilising Cisco’s other networking tools.

Cloud Storage Services

Cloud storage has been crucial for businesses in the shift towards hybrid working. Many offer additional functionality, linking their cloud storage service to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) text editors and spreadsheet software, which offer version control—critical when new recruits independently collaborate on work from their homes.

Whilst there are hundreds of cloud storage providers, popular choices amongst the businesses we work with include: 

  • Google Drive

  • Dropbox

  • Microsoft OneDrive

Again, business needs will often dictate choosing a cloud storage provider. For instance, is your organisation just looking for a secure backup for the on-site storage of business-critical information? In that case, it might be worth utilising a storage-focused service like Dropbox. On the other hand, if multiple departments are already using Google Editors such as Docs, Sheets or Slides, then the Google Drive service will make the most sense.

Online Training Platforms

With the global e-learning market poised to reach $325bn by 2025, it’s no surprise that organisations of all sizes are turning to various online training platforms to ensure that continuous professional development continues during this shift to hybrid and full-remote models of work. 

Again, there are many options for organisations to consider, such as: 

  • Udemy

  • Coursera

  • LinkedIn Learning

These platforms are incredibly valuable for new recruits from the graduate talent pool. Often, these candidates will be selected based on their core competencies, and getting up to speed with the concepts or technologies they will use to complete their day-to-day tasks is essential. 

Alongside this, bespoke training is increasingly being offered online by major providers—including Pareto—to ensure that workforces are able to address skills gaps and enhance their career mobility and understand the qualities of a team leader, no matter where they’re working from. 

Employee Engagement Tools

Managers can find it challenging to measure and improve employee engagement, particularly when it comes to remote or hybrid recruits that they may rarely see in person. Enter employee engagement tools and software: these technologies help to provide managers, HR professionals, and team leaders with vital data on engagement, as well as enable employees to easily be surveyed to gather information and feedback. 

Many platforms exist to streamline the tracking of employee engagement data and the offering of perks and rewards, including: 

  • Bonusly

  • WorkTango

  • 15Five

It’s important to consider the performance, engagement and OKRs (objectives and key results) metrics that are vital for your organisation to track before making a decision on which employee engagement tool your business should use. 

The Importance of Hybrid Work for Your Graduate Talent Pool

University and professional environments might not be as different as they seem. 

When looking at pre-pandemic student life, most graduates had a clear schedule: lectures to attend, assignments that needed to be completed for a specific deadline, workspaces with equipment, meetings with academic advisors, coffee breaks and social events with course peers. This schedule provided clarity and the ability to plan that day, week and month. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns which national governments imposed across the world, of course, changed much, but the successful candidates that are entering the graduate talent pool in 2023 have been able to weather these storms. With help from their tutors, they shifted to a remote setup where the ability to meticulously plan was arguably more important than in pre-pandemic academic life. 

With 65% of Gen Zs—who will make up 30% of the total workforce by 2030—claiming that a mix of in-office and remote work will significantly impact their acceptance or rejection of a job offer, organisations that are looking to attract innovative candidates from the graduate talent pool must transform to cater for different attitudes towards where work is conducted. 

This cultural shift within the workplace doesn’t just benefit your graduate talent acquisition efforts. According to research conducted by global financial planning leader and Fortune 500 employer Prudential, 87% of all employees surveyed want to be able to work remotely at least once a week. 

As graduates enter the workplace—whether remotely or in person—it is helpful to recreate the settings they are used to ease them into the often fast-paced nature of the professional world.

Expert Remote Workforce Management Training For Your Leaders

At Pareto, we’ve been focused on helping business leaders and emerging talent to realise their potential through our assessment, training and placement services for 25 years. We offer a suite of bespoke leadership and management training solutions that can be tailored to your specific business needs, whether that’s helping to get graduate hires on board or facilitating business change. Contact our expert consultants today to discuss your requirements. 

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