On September 18, 2023, the NEXTNiagara Council and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce hosted Engage 2023. The goal of the event was to come up with ideas on how to support employers’ hiring needs and make meaningful employment for young professionals in Niagara. While finding decent and meaningful work is a concern for young professionals, attracting & retaining qualified workers has also become a challenge for employers.
Discussion topics included
- challenges related to the hiring and retention of workers
- reasons that deter young professionals from applying to jobs
- what makes people leave jobs?
- what do young professionals in Niagara want?
- what must happen to address the challenges?
- what resources are needed to address the challenges?
Challenges faced by young professionals and employers alike emerged. Some of these included
- individuals coming unprepared to interviews or not showing up at all
- possible hires not possessing the level of skill employers require like digital/interpersonal skills
- family care/responsibilities
- difficulties transitioning to digital or remote onboarding
- lack of clarity in job postings leaves unexpectedly high employer expectations
- young professionals may be uncertain of where to find relevant jobs
- challenges with transportation to work or other career-related opportunities
- unfair compensation and limited growth opportunities
- lack of flexibility in areas that foster a good work-life balance like sick days and flex hours
- negative work culture such as limited support for employee wellbeing, lack of recognition, and poor communication
Young professionals expressed their need for transparency, aligned values, and mental health and wellbeing support. They want meaningful work where they make an impact. Solutions that emerged for attracting and retaining young professionals include
- transparency and clarity in the recruitment process including disclosure of expectations, pay scale and total compensation packages, flex work options, and type of work (e.g., remote, hybrid, in person)
- fair compensation which may include living wage, health benefits, vacation time, flexibility and/or other options that may supplement offers with lower wages
- opportunities for growth in order to build trust and retain talent
- career development opportunities like training, education, and mentorship,
- opportunities for growth, and reimbursed courses or certifications
- improved workplace culture including encouraged voices, employee autonomy, and valuing feedback as well as fostering mental health though empathy, trust, and open communication
- transportation help like carpool programs and group transportation with other local businesses)
To learn more about the challenges employers and young professionals are facing and how it’s being addressed, read the full report here.