Mentoring and managers’ support key to retaining fresh graduates

A solid onboarding process could help reduce the number of newcomers quitting within the first year, experts suggest

Questions have been raised over whether HR professionals are doing enough to retain young talent and help them to grow in their roles, after a recent study found that 30 per cent of Singapore’s new graduates quit their first job within a year.

The study, conducted by online recruitment company in August 2017, polled 500 fresh graduates and employers in Singapore. The reasons for quitting varied – 67 cited a lack of professional development while 42 per cent said it was a desire to earn more money.

This eagerness to quit is despite 47 per cent of those polled admitting that it took up to three months to get hired in the first place.

The results are a wake-up call for the HR sector. What’s lacking is the “right mentorship” and that’s where the HR sector needs to step in, said Sanjay Modi, managing director of – Asia and Pacific (APAC) and Middle East.

One thing that was clear from the survey was that young local talent expected to move quickly in their first jobs. And that comes with expectations of earning more money within the first 12 months, despite constantly feeling challenged and pushed by their managers.

“They expect the necessary mentorship and support to get there, which is something HR teams and managers must take note of,” said Modi, echoing graduates who said that some of the biggest challenges in their first jobs were around a lack of leadership and support transitioning into working life.

The majority said their biggest challenge was a lack of industry knowledge (61 per cent), but for many a lack of mentorship (34 per cent) also played a big role in their decision to leave. Nearly a third (27 per cent) said they didn’t think they were “fully prepared for work life”, while 25 per cent struggled with long work hours, and 23 per cent said they lacked enough feedback and support from direct managers to succeed.

However, employers quizzed for the survey felt young local employees had “unrealistic expectations when it comes to salaries”. Modi urged organisations to address this by putting in place a “solid onboarding process to manage employee expectations, and ensure that young talent feel they are being invested in”.

But Vincent Romano, managing director at HR recruitment firm Elliott Scott, said that while the survey data was “certainly interesting”, he could not categorically say that HR needed to do anything differently where graduates are concerned.

The same survey showed that Singapore’s labour turnover rate for new graduates was lower than that of Malaysia (36 per cent), and the Philippines (47 per cent), noted Romano, adding that Singapore seemed to be “ahead of the curve, compared to its neighbours”.

Modi said the survey brought a key message for graduates too – that they needed to “give themselves the time to grow into a role and figure out where their strengths and passions lie”.


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