Employers and others who work to support youth to thrive in the workforce, benefit from more effective offerings that better target young people and become more equitable and inclusive along the way.
Youth are experts on themselves. They know better than anyone what will resonate with them and what will likely fall flat. So, their participation in the design and co-creation of programs, policies and workplace practices is vital and invaluable to ensure they have the desired impact.
Before diving into the immense and unmatched value youth bring in this space, it’s important to note youth engagement needs to be authentic and meaningful to be truly impactful. Youth participation that lacks substance, is disingenuous or comes across as unwanted will lead to youth providing the responses they think their audience wants to hear – at best. At worst, it leads to complete disconnection.
You see, co-creation goes beyond youth consultation; It shares decision-making power with youth – acknowledging their ideas, skills and perspective as respected, appreciated and highly regarded in problem-solving and solution-finding.
Its imperative interaction engages youth as collaborators with an equal voice on decisions that affect them.
Now, back to the value youth bring. The list and benefits are plentiful and include:
Programs, policies and workplace practices meet the needs of youth. What is created reflects what youth value at work, better supporting recruitment and retention strategies. In today’s highly competitive market for a talented workforce, this alone is enough of a reason to dive into co-creation.
Loyalty, engagement and performance are increased. Again, it’s hard enough to find and keep talented folks with unemployment at near-record lows. Keeping those already within the ranks content is a big win.
New ideas and perspectives enrich the workplace. Diversity of thought cannot be underrated. Youth think differently. They bring new ideas, new perspectives and new ways of doing things – often more effectively and more efficiently. Giving them a seat at the proverbial table opens the door for shared brilliance.
Implementation is supported. Because youth are involved in design and creation, they’ll feel more ownership and become advocates for the desired outcomes.
The list goes on.
Employers and others who work to support youth to thrive in the workforce, benefit from more effective offerings that better target young people and become more equitable and inclusive along the way. Those involved in the process with youth are likely to experience a broadened perspective and greater understanding of what different generations value at work.
Youth benefit too. They gain new skills, increase knowledge, make new connections and are boosted by empowerment and esteem building.
There are many studies that tout the benefits of co-creation. Many note the need to bring in youth early and ensure a common understanding of goals. Doing so results in better, more relevant design. As well, it saves time, effort and money avoiding adaptation later to fix what isn’t working.
Young people want to be involved and often willingly and openly share their experiences and expertise with enthusiasm. As they should. After all, no one knows youth better than youth. Their unique perspective cannot be guessed or assumed. It can, however, be requested and welcomed to support innovative workplace solutions that flow naturally.