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Training and Managing Recent Graduates: Strategies for Maximizing Class of 2023’s Success in the Workforce

This summer, millions of college graduates will enter the workforce. Like every class, the Class of 2023 will bring unique skills and face unique challenges in their early careers. To maximize the benefit of new grads to business and support their career development, employers should implement the best practices for training and managing recent graduates for their success.

While there is no one way to help new graduates succeed, the best approaches to training include performance management, rotational programs and social and emotional learning.

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Performance management

Every employee benefits from performance management. New grads especially benefit from ongoing conversations around their performance and benchmarks to measure progress, which can refine their existing skills and grow their capabilities. To support new grads, organizations should create a performance management strategy to maximize these benefits for both new grads and their teams.

Through performance management, employees enter into an ongoing conversation with their managers about their performance. This process allows managers to continuously coach their employees, enhancing their performance and developing their skills. While a strong performance management system may also include biannual or annual reviews, the review should be only one of many touchpoints when new grads receive feedback on their performance.

For new hires, it is critical for managers to set clear expectations during their first conversations since many new grads lack experience with a full-time role. As new hires take on greater responsibilities, they should collaborate with managers to identify realistic, timely goals and a way to measure them over time. This approach will set up new hires to continually grow and support their teams.

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Rotational programs

Robust rotational programs are an efficient way to expose new grads to a variety of aspects of the business. In traditional rotational programs, new hires move from one entry-level role to another within their organization for a preset length of time. This allows new grads to gain knowledge and skills through exposure to multiple areas of business.

The benefits are clear in data from National Associate of Colleges and Employers, which found 43.8% of employers with rotational programs saw higher retention of first-year employees by almost 20%. By asking new graduates to start over with a new team, organizations reinforce relationship-building skills, resilience and adaptability. Rotational programs can also improve engagement by varying job duties over time and develop self-confidence for new graduates who succeed in different environments.

Perhaps most importantly, rotational programs allow new graduates to find their best fit. Many graduates enter the workplace seemingly certain of their career interests, but quickly find their first job is not what they envisioned. Through a rotational program, new graduates have permission to explore and pursue the role that excited them most at the end of the program.

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Social and emotional learning

Graduates may have earned their degrees, but may not have the coping skills to thrive in the workplace without additional support. The class of 2023 attended college during the coronavirus pandemic, preventing many from gaining valuable in-person experience through internships. A study from the Mary Christie Institute this March surveyed young adults with at least a bachelor’s degree, finding a majority were not emotionally equipped to navigate their workplace. Over one in three of those surveyed said their college programs did not teach them workplace skills or emotional and behavioral expectations.

These statistics reflect the importance of setting expectations around behavior for new hires fresh out of college through social and emotional learning (SEL). SEL refers to the process of developing essential skills for success in work and life, such as understanding and managing emotions, goal setting, demonstrating empathy for coworkers and forming positive relationships in the workplace. Organizations can incorporate a social-emotional learning element to their new hire training program, which can close emotional skills gaps, build culture and help new hires succeed. 

Social and emotional skills not only increase the likelihood of success in the workplace, but they also assist new hires in advancing their careers. Without the soft skills to build relationships, network, receive constructive criticism and respond to challenges with resilience, new grads may falter in their early careers. Organizations that train new grads across the board will strengthen their own culture, while providing a foundation for their newest employees to advance in the ranks.


Niki JorgensenNiki Jorgensen is a Director of Service Operations with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources offering the most comprehensive suite of scalable HR solutions available in the marketplace. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit