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These are the things you should do for your young employees if you haven’t started

Rwanda’s youth of Rwanda ignite the nation’s socioeconomic sphere but some still feel dissatisfied with their working conditions and employer’s attitude.

In Rwanda, young people constitute a significant percentage of the labor force, according to the 2022 Labour Force Survey Trends done by the National Institute Of Statistics Of Rwanda (NISR), in February 2022, the labor force participation rate among youth aged 16 to 30 years was 49.5%.

Even though they make up a large percentage of the working population, their voices are often muffled by the noise of labor laws and economic policies. Understanding their concerns, aspirations, and views about what their employers can do to retain them should be more than an exercise of obligatory diligence; it should be a passionate pursuit for inclusive growth.

Recent studies conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) show that Rwanda’s youthful population has a strong inclination towards workplaces that provide not just monetary compensation, but holistic development opportunities.

They have expressed the need for continuous skills development, respect for their ideas and innovation, equitable opportunities, and conducive work environments.

The current labor laws in Rwanda, specifically Labor Law No. 66/2018 of 30/08/2018, have robust provisions on contractual terms, working hours, leaves, occupational safety, and health. However, the young voices yearn for more.

They call for reformations that emphasize fair remuneration, skill enhancement, transparency, work-life balance, and most importantly, a sense of purpose.

“Young people don’t want to be just another cog in the wheel. We want to see the value of our work and understand its impact. We crave workplaces that treat us as equals, respect our fresh ideas, and support our professional growth,” says Jean-Pierre, a recent graduate in Kigali.

His sentiment echoes the growing discontentment of the youth, who feel their potential remains untapped due to bureaucracy and lack of innovative engagement by employers.

Albert Mugisha, 24, Software Developer says, “Employers need to invest in continuous learning and professional development opportunities. We crave opportunities to upskill and stay relevant in a rapidly changing job market. When employers offer training programs and support us in acquiring new skills, it shows that they value our growth and are committed to our long-term success.”

The need for meaningful work also transcends into the realm of flexible work schedules. In the digital age, where technology dismantles traditional work boundaries, young Rwandans advocate for flexi-hours and remote work policies.

Jean-Paul Nzeyimana, 23, Entrepreneur says, “Flexible work arrangements are key to attracting and retaining young professionals. Many of us have entrepreneurial aspirations or personal commitments that demand a certain level of flexibility. Employers who embrace flexible working hours or remote work options demonstrate that they trust and value our ability to deliver results, regardless of where we are.”

They argue that such measures can increase productivity, nurture creativity, and importantly, promote a healthier work-life balance.

Young Rwandans are passionate about social security and protection. They stress the need for employers to uphold the laws on social security, which includes provisions for maternity benefits, health insurance, and pensions. There is a pressing call for employers to fulfill their legal obligations without fail.

One crucial insight from these youthful voices is their hunger for fair, transparent communication from employers. The trust between an employer and an employee strengthens when information about business goals, challenges, and successes is shared openly.

Grace Uwase, 27 a Marketing Executive says, “A positive work culture is crucial for retaining young talent. We want to be part of organizations that foster a sense of belonging, collaboration, and respect. When employers create an inclusive environment that values diversity and encourages open communication, it not only boosts morale but also enhances productivity and innovation.”

We often hear claims that the youth workforce is unpredictable, undisciplined, unethical, incompetent, and distracted, leading to the notion that employers only need to pay their employees at the month’s end.

But isn’t it the employers’ responsibility to provide guidance, respect, and dignity, especially to young people, who also require management, inclusion, and training?

Some might say that giving this to employees is expensive, but a happy employee is a productive employee and all that. It is the employer’s responsibility to put in place measures to ensure their employees remain productive, even though the employees too are better served when they do their best to guarantee their productivity.

The young workforce of Rwanda refuses to be viewed merely as economic commodities; they are individuals with dreams, aspirations, and a fierce will to contribute to their nation’s progress. Their labor is not a mere transaction, but a commitment that should be acknowledged, appreciated, and rewarded with dignity.

Alice Mukamugema, 26, an aspiring HR Specialist says, “Recognition and rewards play a significant role in keeping young talent motivated and engaged. Employers should go beyond monetary compensation and acknowledge our achievements and contributions. Regular feedback, performance-based bonuses, and opportunities for growth within the organization are vital to ensuring our loyalty and commitment.”

The labor laws of Rwanda provide a foundation, but it is the employers who can build the structure that retains the young workforce. The future of Rwanda depends on how well we guide and treat these voices today.

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