Maximize your talent pipeline potential by retaining young talent

students talking

The development of a talent pipeline can be outlined in four steps: identify, attract, develop and retain talented people. Incorporating work-integrated learning (WIL), specifically co-op, into your organization’s talent pipeline every four months may seem counter-intuitive. However, research suggests that organizations that participate in WIL programs enhance their talent pipelines by developing long-term relationships and reducing hiring risks. 

Genesys, a global software company with more than 6,000 employees, hires Waterloo co-op students and has achieved a high conversion rate - hiring several students into full-time roles after graduation. Some have been working full-time with Genesys for more than 10 years and are now in senior roles like Director or Senior (Sr.) Director. We spoke with Anthony Lam, Sr. Director in Workforce Engagement Management at Genesys, about how they’ve been successful at converting and retaining co-op students. 

Building lasting relationships

As an employer, building a relationship between you and your employees is important to establish a long-lasting connection. Evidence suggests that bonds between students and an organization can impact a student’s plan to become a permanent member after graduation. 

“Embrace empathy is one of Genesys’ corporate values. We listen to employees during one-on-one conversations to determine what their needs are, and we try to find the right opportunities for them in the team,” says Lam. “It's really a two-way conversation to figure out what's the right career development plan for the employee.”

Keeping this open line of communication with their co-op students has allowed Genesys to develop a training program focused on personal growth. Employees are encouraged to embrace a continuous learning mindset and seek out opportunities that will help them grow professionally. 

Even though students are typically on short work terms, the relationship doesn’t end when they finish their term. 

“We keep in touch with the co-op students,” says Lam. “We reach out to them several months, or even a year before graduation to see whether they are interested in coming back to join us full time. Promoting a learning and growth environment is our key strategy to attract and retain talent.”

Reducing hiring risks

It is challenging for hiring managers to hire the right people the first time. Companies can end up spending a lot of time and money on talent that isn’t the right fit. WIL addresses this challenge by reducing the risk of hiring new employees with shortened work terms plus the lower financial costs of hiring a student.

While it may seem like a daunting task to hire a new student every four months, Genesys has found this encourages more innovation and agility within the organization.

“[This] actually helps us improve our process, to be a lot more agile [and] be able to break work down into smaller pieces. When we need to hire and onboard new members every 4 months, our process naturally needs to be adapted and optimized to minimize the onboarding overhead and to deliver incremental business values in a short duration,” says Lam. “Co-op students bring in diverse perspectives and help us refine our process.”

When organized intentionally and thoughtfully, WIL programs can significantly improve your organization’s talent pipeline by providing access to emerging talent. 

Read more about research on WIL programs and insights from talent managers.