When it Comes to Talent, Hasbro Doesn’t Play Around

Throughout my career at Hasbro, I have focused on attracting, growing, and retaining top talent. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in nearly 20 years at the company is that sometimes the best candidate for the job is not the typical candidate.

While many companies look for talent at top universities, I have found that some of our most motivated, determined employees did not come through the traditional route. They may not have the typical profile, but they possess some of the most valuable traits for success: resilience, gratitude, and a strong work ethic.

It is for this reason that I encourage all employers to explore this largely untapped source of talent known as ‘Opportunity Youth’. Opportunity Youth are young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor employed in the labor market. Approximately 6.7 million people, or one out of six Americans in this age bracket, fit into this category. This group of young people is often overlooked by hiring managers for entry-level jobs because of their atypical resumes. They often lack access to the resources to pursue higher education and find themselves working multiple minimum wage jobs. Opportunity Youth may not have followed the standard educational trajectory, but their life experiences have shaped them to be motivated, loyal and hard-working.

At Hasbro, we’ve witnessed the value of these young adults first-hand. That’s why we decided to develop our own custom training program, Transforming Talent, to generate a pipeline of hungry, determined young adults that would add substantial value to our company. In partnership with Year Up, a national nonprofit organization that prepares young adults for success in the workplace, we launched the program in September 2014. Year Up helped us source bright, diverse candidates and create a year-long training model that met our business needs in sales and marketing.

We co-designed a training curriculum, taught by a combination of Year Up staff and Hasbro employees, which made it possible for us to tailor instruction to our unique culture and the specific roles that we aimed to fill. It also gave our employees the opportunity to lend their expertise to shape the next generation of talent – a deeply rewarding experience to all who were involved.

After intensive classroom training, our trainees began internships in Hasbro’s North American Sales and Marketing Division. This on-the-job experience allowed them to put their newly acquired skills to work, and allowed us to gather information over an extended period of time to see how they performed at our company.

Our close partnership with Year Up was essential to the success of our cohort. Throughout the course of the internship stage, Year Up staff provided valuable feedback and coaching to interns to help them grow from their experiences and hone their professional skills. As a result, an impressive 80 percent graduated from the program, exceeding Year Up’s organization-wide target graduation rate of 75 percent.

Today, 75 percent of our Transforming Talent graduates have been hired as permanent employees. Early outcomes indicate that the program has been an investment in our company that continues to pay dividends. Two graduates have already been recognized with Hasbro’s “Way to Go” award and “Rock Star Parking” for going above and beyond the call of duty in their first six months.  Moreover, the young people that came to us through the program are ambitious and motivated to develop their skills so that they can perform more effectively and grow in their careers at Hasbro. 77% of them are working towards bachelor’s degrees at Johnson & Wales University and are leveraging Hasbro’s generous tuition reimbursement program.

If these benefits weren’t enough, we saw significant employee engagement in the program across the company, with over 100 Hasbro employees participating as instructors, mentors, and volunteers. I myself have served as a mentor to several Year Up students, and many of my colleagues on our senior leadership team have done the same. The tangible and intangible benefits we’ve seen so far have proven just how much these young adults have to offer.

The success we experienced does not have to be unique to Hasbro. All across the country, more and more employers are beginning to realize the potential of Opportunity Youth and are investing in programs that allow them to access this largely untapped source of talent. With the proper on-ramps, these young people can be the solution for talent needs in a variety of industries.

I strongly believe that American companies have a lot to gain from this talented and driven group of individuals, and encourage business leaders to learn more about how to engage with them. I am convinced that these young people will help our businesses stay competitive in the changing 21st century economy.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.

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