Staffing Management

Dear Workforce How Do We Launch an Internship Program to Help Curb Turnover?

By Staff Report

May. 4, 2011

Dear Inquisitive:

Internship programs have traditionally been a great way to wade into the talent pool without making hasty commitments. Today, internships are less a test of potential talent and more a mutual “test-drive” for both the prospective employee and the employer. Smart companies realize that, as demographic and perceptual shifts toward work occur, internship programs also need to evolve. The best internship programs provide real work experience and an exposure to corporate culture, and they provide the company with a petri dish of prospective employees.

Internship programs are more important than ever before. The costs to a company of losing talent are significant, including undermining company culture, loss in productivity and an inability to execute strategy. The total cost of turnover ranges from 30 percent of a person’s yearly salary for hourly employees, according to Cornell University, to 150 percent for salaried employees (Saratoga Institute, Hewitt Associates). The right internship program can prepare new employees in advance and substantially reduce costs associated with new-employee turnover.

As worker demographics continue to shift over the next decade, companies need to ensure that their internship programs are effective. Online tools are increasingly being used by companies to manage this vital process. The effective internship program must include the following:

Create structure. Effective internship programs are structured, have clear objectives, and map the processes that turn interns into employees.

Provide value. Make sure that the work or projects provide an opportunity to learn, expand upon education or areas of interest, and expose the intern to real work. Have interns identify what they want to gain from the experience.

Explicitly define success. Remove all ambiguity regarding roles, responsibilities and expected results.

Interpret the culture. Help interns understand and navigate their new environment by explaining explicit and implicit elements of your company culture. This will help interns get up to speed faster and, if they decide to join the company, there will be no question of what to expect.

Coach to opportunities. Provide timely and constructive feedback to address opportunities for development or avoid behaviors that may undermine your intern’s success. A huge part of the internship experience is learning how to succeed within the workplace. Ensuring their success requires active coaching.

Broaden the horizon. Getting good talent in the door is half the challenge. Make sure your internship program explores a range of potential career opportunities. Although an internship may focus on one project within one department, ensure that the broader company, its departments and career paths are defined.

SOURCE: Dr. Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell, San Francisco

LEARN MORE: Please read what should be considered before launching your college recruiting initiative.

Workforce Management Online, May 2011Register Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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