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Hiring New Grads in an Era of Change

The Class of 2023 is officially headed into the workforce! As with every year’s graduating class, the entry of a fresh new bunch of young professionals means a new evaluation of what these workers are looking for. How can your franchise team best appeal to—and leverage the skills of this bright new class of graduates?


Balance Boundaries and Responsibility

It seems like just yesterday, we were talking constantly about “quiet quitting.” A phenomenon driven largely (though not exclusively by any means) by younger workers. Quiet quitting denotes an approach to work that’s focused on doing precisely what one was hired to do – no more and no less. Driven by the pandemic-era reshuffling of people’s priorities and a desire to avoid burnout, quiet quitting is an understandable response to the stresses of this point in time, but it’s also not the only way to handle things. For franchises, this also requires considering the different “levels” or “types” of jobs; the front-line workers in your locations every day naturally will have different role requirements and expectations than the employees operating out of offices or in more strategic roles.


Franchised businesses looking to attract new grads in 2023 should be emphasizing ways in which their companies value work-life balance while also creating meaning and purpose in the work load itself. Today’s graduates have spent most of their college careers under the shadow of the uncertainty of the past few years, and that has shaped their views on work. They’re more likely than previous generations to ask for what they want and to set clear boundaries on what they will and won’t do. Some graduates may even already have some experience with franchises in entry-level roles at restaurants or other public-facing businesses.


It’s important to have clarity in your workplace culture about expectations. In the franchise world, that means balancing the unique needs of individual locations with a strong, shared culture across the entire organization. You’re much more likely to build a loyal, dedicated workforce when you have a culture that helps them pursue their interests and develop their careers.


Building a Pipeline for Tomorrow

In 2021, a LinkedIn study found that job transitions among Gen Z were up 80% year-over-year. The younger generation of workers are more willing to be up-front about what they want in a job, and they’re more willing to look for a new role if their current position or company isn’t aligned with their goals and values (including DEI concerns). However, they’re also interested in stability: the Wall Street Journal cites a recent survey that found 84% of graduating seniors said job stability would make them more likely to apply for a job, up from 73% the previous year.


Because of this, it’s important to consider retention efforts as well as front-line recruiting. Franchising may wind up being a particularly popular niche for stability-seeking graduates to consider, since it has a “built-in” feature that could lead to more leadership and ownership under the broader business’s umbrella. In the franchise space, your recruiting team should be able to answer questions such as:


  • What do career paths look like at this company?
  • What opportunities for career development or mentorship are offered?
  • How does the company support ongoing education and upskilling?
  • How do you handle employee appreciation and recognition?
  • What does the path to owning a franchise location look like?

These retention efforts aren’t just helpful when it comes to new grads – they can have a big impact on your team across the board.


Navigating Uncertainty in the Workforce

 Many new grads are facing something of a conundrum, as some sectors are cooling rapidly while others continue to grow. “Front line” sectors like tourism, education, and government continue to grow, while “knowledge worker” fields such as software, financial services, and biotech are seeing declines in job openings. This tracks with the general trends of today’s workforce, where many service-oriented and public-facing fields are still struggling to fill jobs, while higher-paying, fast-growing fields are trimming budgets in face of a potential recession (and to course-correct after a couple of years of rapid, even explosive growth). Franchises are more likely to be part of the “front line” category, meaning there is still growth to come and job openings to be filled.


As a result of these shifts, new grads are looking for jobs that they believe can help them weather a period of economic uncertainty. Consider the following stats on Class of 2023 sentiments, as reported by the Wall Street Journal:

  • 76% believe they can find a well-paying job.
  • 40% are open to industries or roles they had previously not considered.
  • 84% say that “stability” is a factor that will make them more likely to accept a job, followed by salary (82%) and benefits (81%).[3]


Ultimately, franchises looking to hire from the Class of 2023 should understand that the latest crop of grads are looking for a sense of balance and stability. They’re interested in jobs that make them feel a sense of purpose and that align with their values, but they’re also practical and in search of stable footing as the world grows more uncertain. They can be a powerful and lasting force for bringing your company into the future, and their potential, in the right context, can be limitless.


About the Author

Nancy Estep-Critchett is a founding Partner of Blue Rock Search, with oversight of the Franchise Practice. She has 30 years of successful working experience as a business advisor and executive recruiter in the franchising space. Nancy has built solid relationships which have spanned decades with industry professionals and internationally recognized brands.


Blue Rock Search is an MBE Certified, minority-owned executive search firm, an SRA Network member, a Hunt Scanlon Top 10 global recruiting firm, and a member of the Hunt Scanlon HR/Diversity Recruiting Power 65.  We specialize in the targeted identification, assessment, and placement of executives across four distinct practice areas: Human ResourcesFranchiseHigher Education, and Customer Experience.

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