The Entrepreneur Speaks: Tej Kohli

Tej Kohli advises on attracting, nurturing and retaining young talent.

Tej Kohli, Indian billionaire and philanthropist, serial fintech entrepreneur and Chairman of London-based global venture capital firm, Kohli Ventures, global investor in innovative ideas, disruptive technology and dynamic businesses, advises on attracting, nurturing and retaining young talent.

Nurturing young talent

Developing the talents of young people is essential for business success and lays the foundation for a prosperous future. You only have to look at the amazing stories of the star tech companies and their founders to see the contribution to society the young and talented have made. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg founded respectively today’s global revenue generating giants of Apple, Microsoft and Facebook when they were in their twenties. But how do businesses provide an environment to attract, nurture and retain young talent?

A good point to start is to examine what we mean by the term ‘young’; what aspirations they have and what inspires them. Now entering the workplace is what is termed as the millennium generation, who are defined as those born from 1980 to 1995. They are already emerging as leaders in technology as well as in other industries and will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

Although it is not advisable to over generalise, there are various studies that show what millennials feel is important in a working environment. And, of course, some of these conditions, such as being appreciated, are common to all employees and managers in a business, no matter what their generation. One particular global study of millennials conducted by professional services provider Deloitte in 2014, showed that millennials wanted a working environment offering support, appreciation for their efforts and collaborative and supportive networks.

More than previous generations, the millennial generation want to work together as a part of a team. They understand that more value is created by working together to solve a problem than individually. Consequentially, this has meant the demise of old hierarchical management structures and the growth of lateral management models where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute, epitomised by California’s tech industry. This approach has spread to Europe – such as London’s tech scene – as well as Asia, and has helped drive innovation.

Being innovative is attractive to millennials with 78 per cent saying that how innovative a firm is will influence their selection of employer. Of course, it’s important to get this message across to potential employees and social media and the web are the best route rather than conventional channels.

With such a tech savvy generation it comes as no surprise to learn they prefer firms that offer the best and latest in technology. Obviously, when it comes to recruitment it makes sense to use social media platforms or relevant industry forums or websites. Offering graduates and postgraduate placements is another productive way to encourage highly qualified young people to apply for roles. It is also a good idea to tap into your existing staff’s contacts as they may well know other aspiring talented young people who may be able to contribute to the company. In a nutshell, businesses must work harder to make it easier for young people to join their ranks, whether supporting educational initiatives, offering training courses or mentoring schemes.

Providing investment in the form of training is an essential part of the package of attracting and retaining talent. The same can be said for older employees who appreciate the investment made in them through training, helping to motivate and increase their commitment and loyalty to the business. Apprenticeships are very effective for providing young employees with the necessary skills and experience to progress in their careers. Furthermore, many governments provide incentives for businesses to take on apprentices.

Another way of attracting new talent and aiding employee retention is by providing a mentoring scheme. Having an experienced senior manager or director, who is neutral and not a part of the mentee’s/protégé’s team, can provide invaluable support to a young person embarking on their career. Mentors can not only impart their wisdom, they can help feedback to the company on the effectiveness of the training programme and whether the mentee is happy within their team, enabling management to take action to reduce the risk of them leaving.

Investing significant amounts of time, money and energy in training and retaining young employees reap benefits many times the cost. Furthermore, for most businesses, putting nurturing young people at the heart of your organisation is even more important as it helps give a better understanding of the millennial demographic, which are becoming increasingly important as global consumers.

5 June 2015