8 Questions You Should Be Asking the Youngest Person at Your Company

8 Questions You Should Be Asking the Youngest Person at Your CompanyAs a relatively new hire and the youngest person at Camoin Associates, I find I have an unending list of life- and work-related questions for my coworkers who have significantly more experience than me. Examples include questions from “Which folder do those files live in?” and “How do I set up my 401(k)?” to “How do I network at my first conference?” and “What is the most impactful way to utilize AI in our work?”

At the same time, I have noticed that senior-level employees rarely ask me questions that could benefit them. There appear to be a lot of missed opportunities at companies across all fields for established employees to learn from new hires.

I am not suggesting that young people know better, but I am suggesting that young people know different information, and these insights could strengthen future economies, helping with workforce attraction, retention, and expansion.

The future workforce is currently in college and high school and as economic developers, we work hard to understand their employment aspirations, attitudes, and expectations. While we try to survey, focus group, and interview this information out of young people, they are already speaking — and speaking much more freely — about these topics with their peers. Even comments as basic as “We’re never gonna get to retire” or “I don’t know how I could have a kid and work; daycare is stupid expensive” demonstrate that young people are giving significant thought to their future careers and are concerned about benefits and work-life balance. (Note: These are two real conversations I had with my friends in grad school, just a year ago.)

We fail to consider that new hires were just in the shoes of those we are trying to reach and are still in conversation with the future workforce, either directly or online. That said, here are some questions to ask the young people at your company to get a better sense of what the next generation of workers is thinking, hoping, and concerned about:

  1. How many people in your graduate school cohort got jobs in our field? What other fields did they opt for and why?
  2. What platforms are young people using to learn about jobs?
  3. What stereotypes do young people have about our field and the work we do?
  4. Are there any online accounts, groups, or social circles that make you feel supported in your career (even if they only provide humorous content)?
  5. What workplace trends are you hearing about, both positive and negative?
  6. What do other young people in this field dislike about their jobs? What do they love?
  7. How can we make conferences more appealing to young people?
  8. Do young people in our field feel they can be themselves at work?

These questions help to open the conversation about attracting, hiring, and retaining young people and can mean more than a survey given to high schoolers with the promise of extra credit. You may even walk away with thoughts for a new marketing campaign, an idea for team building, or an aspect of the company you did not realize was worth highlighting.

Even if you do not gain what you may consider to be “valuable insights,” showing that you care about the experience of the next wave of workers is meaningful, and you have no idea how fast word spreads these days when the clock no longer moves at the pace of tick-tock, but of TikTok.

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