How to Hire and Retain Entry-Level Employees

Employee turnover in industries with high numbers of entry-level employees—such as retail, food service and health care—has always been high. But thanks to the state of the current labor market, employers attempting to hire and retain entry-level employees face a particularly daunting challenge.

Entry-level employees want many of the same things in a job as other employees. Often, though, their needs are different. They may work multiple jobs and have housing, transportation, scheduling and child care concerns that other employees don’t.

In 2017, the Rockefeller Foundation conducted a comprehensive study of a group the researchers identified as Opportunity Youth—people age 18-24 who were entering the workforce without a four-year college degree. Participants identified the following top five items when asked what they wanted most from a job:

1)  A livable wage

2)  A fair, respectful manager

3)  Work/life balance

4)  Job-specific skills training

5)  A consistent schedule

In the current job market, the high number of open positions combined with a pool of candidates that isn’t increasing in size means a lot of companies are competing for the same workers. Successful recruitment and retention often require out-of-the-box thinking.

Consider a hospital and skilled nursing facility situated next door to each other in a small city, which adjusted their shifts to align, then persuaded the local bus company to send buses at the end of shifts to pick up workers and drive them to the central transportation hub—not only reducing outdoor wait time in a cold-weather climate, but also increasing family time and lowering child care costs.

Or consider a pizza franchise owner in a small but fast-growing Western city, which gives all employees paid holidays and a week of paid vacation after one year of service. On holidays, the owners and their family staff the stores.

Bottom line: Be aware of the unique needs and wants of your entry-level employees. Doing all that you can to cater to them will lead to more successful recruitment and retention.

Susan Palé is a contributor for Affinity HR Group, Inc., a Big “I” Hires-affiliated human resources partner.