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Early Careers – Back to the Office?

Early Careers – Back to the Office?

Posted: 8th October 2020

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
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      Following on from an earlier thread raised in the chatroom about supporting early careers remotely, I’m wondering what different organisations are doing to look after your early careers populations now that the rules are more opaque.
      Work from home if you can, but go into the office if you can’t, or need to, or…
      I was a home worker who travelled to offices only for large meetings even before lockdown and I’m an advocate for flexible working, so I’m not rushing to get anyone back. However, there are a number of benefits to being in the office too, and I would suggest that’s particularly for early careers and new starters e.g. social interaction, informal learning, sense of belonging etc.
      Are you supporting early careers to come back into offices on a full-time or part-time basis, or encouraging them to continue working from home where possible? What systems are you putting in place to support line managers to change how they support early careers staff?
      Thanks, Jennifer


        As we’re starting to see more and more local lockdowns, this post is already feeling a bit out of date and I see that we’ll be needing to support our early careers new starters more remotely than we’d hoped to.  Still interested in any hints and tips others have around supporting this population in particular.


          Hi Jennifer,

          When we went into lockdown, this was something that we were quite conscious of especially because our industry has been hit so hard by the virus. Our approach was to consider what HR could do and what the line managers could / should do. Here are some of the ideas that we linked to our ‘out of sight, but you are in mind ‘ theme.

          • We created a company newsletter ‘The MC Times’, and we asked people from across the business to submit content. This might be personal information and activities, volunteering, pictures of creative workspaces, good news stories, just for fun section (brain. teasers or dingbats) there was also a more serious bit where we gave key business messages on how the trade was performing, and messaging about staying safe with families etc. We also included a special feature from an exec member and their background;  a different one each month.  It took a little while to get off the ground (getting regular content), but it works well now.
          • We created several engagement infographics and guides for managers and colleagues.  e.g. Hints and Tips – how to work from home, how to stay connected to the business and each other, how to manage customers in the virtual world etc.
          • We created a One-Stop-Shop which is basically a central hub for all resources and to drive up participation to the resources I got our marketing team to create an email footer that the full HR team and line managers use.
          • We focussed on the importance of quality conversations, and we provided some examples of questions manager could ask. Focusing on the individual, not tasks.  This we felt was important as some of our early careers live in small bedsits or with parents, so we wanted to check-in on wellbeing.
          • Some of the early careers took up apprenticeship qualifications. This went down really well as our younger colleagues are keen to learn and grow. They also love the student discount element.
          • We sent out ongoing links to free learning materials regularly; they would then often share what they had learnt or had found interesting.
          • My colleague and I wrote our first blog ‘practice what we preach’. Basically, we spoke about our experiences during this time, hopes and fears and a little bit about our career paths. We invited others to do the same.
          • Virtual pub quizzes on some Fridays set by a different colleague each time. Also, some of our suppliers arranged virtual taste and learn sessions.
          • Alternated colleagues to chair team meetings or if that was a step too far gave them slots on the agenda.
          • Regular catch-ups to ask then if we (the business) was doing enough and if not what more could we do.
          • We also asked our managers how they would like to be remembered by their teams for the role they played during this time. Thinking they’d support what they helped create.

            Thanks for the reply, Louise.
            I am perhaps over-thinking this as we do a lot of this already and maybe what we need is similar to the newsletter that you’ve mentioned but specifically for our early careers or new joiners.  We’ve got loads of resources and have created a “Working from Home” hub, which may be similar to the “one-stop-shop” you’ve mentioned, where we’ve got lots of info about DSE, wellbeing, communicating and staying connected, family friendly info and resources, learning tools, financial wellbeing. Perhaps what we need to do is to curate this for our early careers and new joiners to target them on things they might find useful at this stage.  We’ve got so many resources and communication that some of the feedback we get is that it’s over-whelming and people don’t know what to focus on/what’s relevant for them.

            Similar to you, we’ve also provided guidance for managers around not simply focusing on the work, but taking care of wellbeing.  Inevitably some of our managers are better than others at this and some had thought about trying to replicate the “social glue” e.g. virtual quizzes, Friday pizza lunch etc.

            On a positive note, since the original post, we’ve done some listening groups with our early careers staff and they’re all really happy and enjoying themselves.  We were a bit surprised as this is a cohort we were particularly worried about and thought we should be doing more to support.  But, we’re maybe over-thinking and perhaps we’re doing enough.

            I like the blog idea.  We’ve done similar with our working parents network but not published a blog.  With our working parents network we ran “Whose in my boat?” sessions.  Recognising we’re all in the same storm but in quite different boats. People told us what kind of experience they were having e.g. small children, not yet at school, can’t be left unsupervised; juggling home-schooling and working life; older children affected by GCSE and A level difficulties; single parents etc. and introduced them to each other so they could talk with someone who had experience of what they were facing to support each other, commiserate with each other, share hints and tips etc.

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