My younger staff are not snowflakes, and with a little guidance their futures are bright, says Colin Burns, branch manager of Hays Travel.

“Elli, what time are you at training tomorrow?”

“In the morning, Col.”

“Yeah, but what time?”

“Well…before lunch.”

“Yeah but what time, Elli?”

“10.30.” At last the real answer!

One of the traits of some young people is that they don’t answer the question the first time they’re asked, and the above conversation is one example. You might also notice that, when you ask to speak to them, they automatically assume they are in some kind of trouble. And, of course, there is another party trick, where they claim to not know you have tried to ring them – even though their mobile phone has been surgically attached to their hand.

Undeserved reputation

Young people today – often referred to as snowflakes – have a reputation for being oversensitive and too easily offended, and to think the whole world revolves around them. But I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who thinks this reputation is undeserved.

They are living in a world totally different to the one that I, and dare I say, many of you, grew up in. I mean, not only do they have their own problems to deal with but, thanks to social media, everyone else’s problems too. We’ve all heard it: “My friend’s relative died last night (cue tears), I must dash to see her and make sure she’s OK.” It turns out said “friend” is someone they met on holiday 15 years ago and haven’t seen since but are ‘friends’ with on social media. Still, they feel an obligation to take this person’s problems onto their shoulders, along with everything else going on in the world.

Guiding hand

So, this is where we, the experienced ones, come in. The sooner we can accept that this is how some young ones are and we adapt the way we treat them (gone are the days of tea maker and brochure stamper), the better. Listen to them, guide them, value them and the skills they bring to your business (Elli, Talia and Leah’s tech knowledge is invaluable) and nurture this to make sure they become the best they can be.

And they show professionalism beyond their years at the right times. Recently, following the sad news about Thomas Cook, we have had tears, rants and confusion from our affected customers. Talia, Elli and Leah have dealt with all these emotions, stayed calm and never lost focus, making sure our customers received the best service and the best possible outcome.

Hays Travel has a very successful apprenticeship programme that is open to all ages and it is from here that many branch managers and senior managers [43%] have progressed. Only by changing attitudes and adapting training programmes to suit this raft of agents, young and not so young, can we ensure this success continues.

So although the future lies in the hands of the young ones, what they do with this future depends on how we, as managers, trainers, coaches and employers, guide them during these vital years of their career.


Hays’ faith in the high street should be no surprise

Well, we didn’t see that coming! But you know what, Hays Travel’s purchase of the Thomas Cook shop leases shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise to anyone who knows John.

His faith in the high street has been obvious through past acquisitions and organic growth of the business. His genuine care for the people who work for him, the passion around staff development and training to make sure we can all be our best, I’m sure, will be a great platform for both the current Hays Travel ‘family’ and those who will now be given the opportunity to join us both in shops and head office.

I, for one, feel a great sense of excitement and optimism for the future.