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young and diverse - the new workforce with Tamara Balan and Bareera Sial

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Tell us a little bit about what the HireNext program is.

HireNext is a tool that we've designed to help employers get to the best young talent Canada has to offer. As many as 30% of employers struggle to fill their entry-level roles. And if they're not struggling to fill them, then they're working hard to keep great talent in the organization.

Who are we talking about? And what do some of those challenges look like on a day to day basis?

What we are talking about is people that are at the beginning of their career, so would be somebody that has just finished up high school or has one to two years of experience and is really looking to break into the labor market. What we found is that often there are miscommunications in terms of challenges not having the experience of being in the workplace or there's a gap between what employers are looking for and what young people expect the workplace to look like. So what we're really doing is bridging that gap, closing the opportunity gap that exists between employers and young people, and making sure that we educate both sides on what can be done better to make sure that young people are able to enter the labor market. And not only that but have access to experiences that will continue to keep and get them ahead of the curve and stay contributing members of the workforce.

How do we set this generation up for success in the workplace? What are some things that we can make available to them to help set and manage their expectations? Give them the tools to be successful on the job?

At Civic Action, we're actually working on a project called Youth Connect where we offer free LinkedIn learning licenses to users that are between the ages of 18 to 29. So it is being offered to young people that are a bit further away from the labor market that could be racialized youth or immigrant youth. And what we do is give them access to some courses on foundational skills and basic expectations of the workplace as well. So what are the things that you need to know to be able to better communicate with your coworkers or to communicate with your bosses? What are the expectations of the first day on the job? What can we offer so that you are more prepared for that? And then vice versa.

We have resources available for employers as well as what can you do to make sure that young people are onboarded before their first day. How can you let them know about the workplace culture so that they come in more prepared and more understanding of what the first day on the job would look like?

Let's talk a little bit about that onboarding process. What can it look like to better set us up for a positive experience for both the employee and the employer?

I think as Bareera mentioned, it starts before that first day, right? One person that hasn't worked in the specific organization or frankly, any organization similar to the one that they're about to start in, they're going to have a lot of questions about the culture, the expectations, the norms, the schedule, the flexibility. So if that information can be provided in advance as a bit of an introduction. I think the format is where we can get really creative, it can certainly be in a manual, but increasingly, there are lots of easy, quick ways to describe what can be expected on that first day so that someone preparing for it can feel really excited and confident about that before they even arrive. Then on the first day, there are such great little ways to welcome a new team member. Things like assigning an on-boarding body, to help them meet everyone in their workplace, to give them a tour of the space and to be a person that they can ask the kinds of questions they might not want to ask their manager has worked really well for us.

Does that cover the onboarding process? How long does it take for them to really get settled? And then what kind of ongoing support do we want to be providing?

Ideally, it does extend beyond the first couple of weeks and frankly, best practice would be to continue that through the first three months, as a period in which the new employee or colleague will be working to learn about the organization and their role and responsibilities and will need that time to really understand what they can bring to the table and continue to do well.

In terms of this generation or younger people, how can we meet not just their expectations, but their growth and development aspirations and really make sure we retain them? How are we going to keep them engaged in the job at these entry levels?

So I'll speak from the perspective of a young person. I think when you're starting out, you're very eager. You want to know what are the opportunities to advance in the workplace. How do you map out your career? How do you think about five years from now or 10 years from now, what can you be doing? And what really makes a difference is having someone that champions you at your workplace like somebody that can kind of mentor you. Even if it's a coffee every now and then to talk through what you're interested in doing in the workplace, how they can support you, how they can make you feel like a member of the team, I think that really makes a difference.

Are there any other tools that employees and employers should be accessing to help them attract, retain, and support this young generation?

We've developed a tool that is across the spectrum called HireNext. It's available for free to employers at In as little as 10 minutes employers can take a self-assessment and receive three tailored recommendations for their organization. The three recommendations come with tools, resources, templates, worksheets, videos, case studies, so it's really intended to provide guidelines and templates that can make it more easy to implement into the organization.

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Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Civic Action

HireNext program self-assessment


You may find it helpful to review our episode with Maria Rotundo on How to Hire Right the First Time

The Small Nonprofit is produced by Eloisa Jane Mariano