Investing in youth key to success

Here at GDM we place huge importance on investing in young people. We believe that our youth are the future of our business, as they are the ones who can drive improvement across the board.

The recent influx of younger employees at GDM is the result
of a gap left by several staff reaching retirement age in recent years. Michael
and Sandra Eden invested in and upskilled young people in order to future proof
the business. Five years ago there were two staff members under 25, while today
there are 15 staff under 20, which is around 30% of all employees.

“We knew we had to adapt,” says Sandra,

“We had to become a more attractive employer to young people, and to establish programmes which would retain them for as long as possible.”

“Our young staff have different aspirations for their careers and different expectations from their place of work, we feel we are working with them collaboratively to meet those expectations”

GDM are immersed in community programmes such as 100% SWEET, supporting young people as they transition from school to work. 100% SWEET is an initiative set up by the Whanganui District Employment Training Trust. Via 100% SWEET, students are interviewed for roles at GDM and appointed on merit. They then become fully immersed in the business as part of GDM’s cadet programme, giving them the ability to learn a breadth of roles and ultimately decide on where their interests lie.

GDM’s cadet programme is not just for school leavers. We are open to employing those in tertiary study, or individuals who have the motivation and enthusiasm to take on all the business has to offer. After completing the cadet programme, young staff can decide to commence apprenticeships, or apply to be supported by GDM for tertiary study while they work.

GDM have also been identified as a Youth Friendly Employer as part of Youth Employment Success, offering employment and training programmes for young workers and students. This is important recognition as it shows that what Michael and Sandra are doing to support young people in their workplace, is working.

With an influx of young staff over a relatively short period of time, there will always be challenges. Most young people come into the organisation knowing nothing about the work involved, let alone basic work routines and life skills. GDM supports them so they can learn on the job, with regular feedback and upskilling.

“Sometimes I feel like camp mum,” Sandra jokes.

“Although in reality I am far from that. Along with senior staff, we are here to guide and support, to ensure we are all heading in the same direction.”

“If these young people are engaged and supported they work hard, get involved with all aspects of the business and they stick around.”

“Retention so far has been good, if young people are given a path and ensured variety, they want to stay, thus offsetting the instability caused by retirements.”

Young employees are technologically intuitive and inquisitive, and constantly pushing the boundaries (in a good way). They come up with fresh ideas and they bring a different perspective to the way GDM works, leading to continuously improving products and services.

Ultimately, employing young people at GDM leads to benefits for our customers. By incorporating their enthusiasm and ideas we continually deliver value, ensure exceptional customer service and provide innovative solutions to our valued clients.

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