That million-dollar question

FIDI 39 Club President Jackie Stouffer on the career opportunities for young people in moving and the rewards to companies who really invest in the next generation

I remember when I was interviewed for my first job in this industry. I was 22, about to graduate from college, and over the course of the interview Phil Wells asked me no fewer than three times ‘are you sure you want this job?’ I suppose I should have taken one look at the semi-incredulous look on his face and heard the somewhat disbelieving tone of his voice and realised that I was signing up for more than met the eye on the job application.

That was more than 11 years ago. If Phil said to me back then ‘Jackie, if you stick with this gig you can be running the whole show in 10 years’, I would have laughed it off. Right? Flash forward and that entry job as a coordinator has turned into a full-on career. I have grown up in this business and gained more experience than I could have ever initially imagined.

But it took years to learn the ropes; to develop the skills needed to continue to progress and take on more responsibility. Above all else, it took a company that was willing to invest in me and put in the work to retain and develop me, not only for my benefit but also for theirs.

The million-dollar question of attracting and retaining talent continues to become more relevant in an increasingly competitive market. Make no mistake, ‘million dollar’ is no exaggeration – the cost and resources needed to continually train new talent in a company with a poor retention rate is quantifiable, and expensive.

We live in a world that becomes more digitalised every day, allowing both employers and employees to cast a wider net in the job search to find the right fit. If a company does not take the required steps towards retention, talent will find a more attractive offer without a second thought – it’s easier than ever thanks to virtual capabilities and the growing trend of digital nomads (see the FIDI 39 Club article on page 56 for more).

So, how do you keep your young movers and develop them into long-term talent? What are they looking for, and how can you make sure that your company can deliver?

I’m now 33 years old, which makes me a millennial. Speaking to my fellow FIDI 39 Club members, a common theme that we millennials and Gen-Z’ers feel very strongly about is work-life balance. Lifestyle and overall quality of life are huge considerations in the workplace for us, and, speaking as a manager, it’s a huge consideration for my own team’s welfare, too. A company that makes clear commitments towards the social and mental wellbeing of their staff will create a stable workforce, avoiding the all-too-common peak-season burnouts many companies have faced at one point or another.

However, providing employees with a good work-life balance is not enough. Companies need to do their part to paint a picture for incoming talent: showing they have a path for continued learning and experience within the company, and true career potential if they stay the course. Having regular check-ins with your staff, seeing where their heads are at, and where their interests lie, is a great first step.

Work with your staff on a growth plan, setting milestones for development and goals. The FIDI 39 Club’s Mentorship Programme is an excellent option to demonstrate to young movers what a career in this industry can look like and how to get there. The FIDI Academy also offers numerous learning opportunities both online and in-person, and these are fantastic resources for those willing to invest in their people.

Above all, companies need to demonstrate some degree of flexibility. Remote-hybrid work schedules are attractive, and so is letting employees take those longer vacations – or visit family abroad, working part of that time remotely from another country. This is the beautiful thing about getting serious with digitalisation: the work can truly get done from anywhere, if you allow it.

The FIDI 39 Club continues to offer increasing opportunities for the industry’s young movers, but we need individual companies to get on board as well. Set the next generation up for success by giving them the environment, tools, and opportunities to grow.

After all, we are the future of FIDI.

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