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How can employers support young people new to the workplace?

Acas has released new guidance for employers on how to get the best out of their youngest employees, particularly when it's their first taste of working life.

Many younger workers arrive fresh from education with little or no work experience. After many years following school timetables and the instructions of teachers, trainers or lecturers, it can be quite a change to come into the working environment.

Until they get used to the workplace, younger workers may initially need extra support and a more flexible management approach, the guide Employing younger workers said.

With the right support, younger workers can become skilled and valued members of the team more quickly and easily, it said.

The role of managers

Line managers have a crucial role in providing support, the guide said. Not only do they need to lead by example, showcasing accepted and expected behaviours, but they should also be open and communicative, encouraging younger workers to come to them for help if there are problems.

Managers should be quick to check that younger workers understand their role and responsibilities, and if they can't meet any of them, they should give constructive feedback and identify needs for further training and support.

Similarly, good work should be recognised, helping to boost confidence about performance and abilities, and ensure positive behaviours are reinforced.

Arranging frequent catch-up times gives younger workers an informal space to air their concerns and resolve any issues that have come up.

More formal mid-year and end-of-year reviews are useful to discuss progress and highlight any training and development needs, it said.

When a young worker's conduct, behaviour or performance hasn't been satisfactory, managers should get to grips with it early by explaining what the problem is and how to improve. This stops bad habits becoming ingrained, the guide said.

Mentors and buddies

Mentors can act as role models and serve as a more regular and approachable point of contact for problems or work-related issues. They tend to be well-established and more senior members of the workforce.

Buddies, on the other hand, tend to be of a similar age as the newcomer and work closely with them. They're the ones who younger workers can talk to about anything, even matters that appear obvious or silly, the guide said.

Mentors and buddies work best when they are used in conjunction, it added.

Trade union support

Trade union representatives are often experienced and trained in skills that make them particularly valuable as mentors. They tend to have effective communication skills and a wide awareness of an organisation's strengths and weaknesses.

Trade union representatives can also offer an alternative and confidential source of support and advice for a younger worker when problems or concerns arise in the workplace.

The guide also has detailed advice on recruitment, induction, employment rights, and retaining younger workers.

Acas publications and services

pdf icon Employing younger workers [378kb] is available for free download from the Acas website. Acas has also published pdf icon Managing Future Talent - A guide for employers [1Mb], which aims to share good practice about how to create a workplace in which young employees can thrive.

Settling in a new employee: A step-by-step guide is one of a suite of step-by-step guides to help you get it right in key areas of employment relations. The guide shows you how to bring your new recruits up to speed quickly, so that they're effective and engaged members of the team from day one.

pdf icon Starting staff: induction guide [356kb] looks at the various stages of the process in greater detail, including special considerations about certain groups who need extra attention, and an word icon Outline of a job induction checklist [75kb] is also available for free download.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you review your recruitment and induction procedures. See Recruitment and Retention: how Acas can help for further details.

Practical Acas training is also available on the related areas of Recruitment and induction, Staff retention, Skills for supervisors, Contracts and terms and conditions, and Employing People - A Practical Introduction for newer employers.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

Acas conference - Young Workers, Supporting and managing the workforce of tomorrow, 23 November 2017, Colmore Gate, Birmingham

This unique Acas conference will tackle the issues of engaging and retaining young workers faced by employers. We will also cover subjects such as:

  • the apprenticeship levy
  • attracting and retaining young workers
  • the skills shorting....and more!

For further information and booking details visit the event page or call Acas Customer Services on 0300 123 1150.


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