Generation Z employees are one of the least satisfied groups in today’s workforce. MetLife 2022 Employment Benefit Trends Survey (EBTS) found that job satisfaction and loyalty among Generation Z are disproportionately low compared to other generations, but focused work is a major contributor to overall employee health and well-being. This gives organizations a chance to help the younger generation feel a stronger sense of ownership early on by incorporating effective performance into internship programs.
As a member of the National Board of Directors of INROADS Inc., a national non-profit organization dedicated to developing and employing underprivileged youth in business and preparing them for leadership, I have learned first hand how focused work can lead to higher satisfaction among interns, resulting in more satisfied future employees. MetLife and INROADS have a longstanding partnership and together have created paths for nearly 900 students. This summer, MetLife accepted 12 INROADS interns, most of whom were full-time hires. We aim to triple the number of interns this year due to the program’s outstanding success.
Based on my own experience, I would like to share tips for changing the experience of interns:
Real Experience: Instilling responsibility and accountability in trainees at all stages can help create a sense of belonging and purpose. At MetLife, our interns have important responsibilities, are supported by our team, and always have a seat at the table helping solve real business problems.
For example, our recent summer interns have worked in various departments, met with senior executives, including our CEO Michel Khalaf, attended lunches, trained and participated in key business projects. One intern created an entire microsite for our organization from scratch, another created a set of design tools and assets for internal campaigns, and a third created and implemented a tool that records and tracks customer health.
Mentoring: Mentors and partner networks are another important element of successful internship programs. Providing interns with professional and social networking opportunities to deepen their network, broaden their skill set, and build a valuable network of peers and mentors is integral to a successful program.
In the summer of 2022, INROADS interns at MetLife had the opportunity to speak to the organization’s senior leadership, strengthening their connections and building their trust.
Feedback loops: It is important to create communication channels where interns feel comfortable providing honest feedback about their experiences and how organizers can improve their programs. Human Resources leaders should work in tandem with Intern Coordinators to ensure Interns feel heard, valued, and supported throughout their experience. Equally important is providing ongoing feedback to trainees to help them grow and develop in the ways that matter most to them. For example, establishing a consistent frequency of reviews with managers and/or program leaders to review strengths and areas of growth can help maximize the importance of feedback.
Investing in your people is a key factor in developing the modern workforce, and this can start by creating a lasting and effective experience for interns. Companies that are committed to making a positive impact on their employees early in their careers will be most successful in creating diverse talent channels with high job satisfaction and loyalty. As someone passionate about supporting future generations of talent, I am proud to be part of MetLife and INROADS, two great organizations that invest in future generations and shape the leaders of tomorrow.