Why Hire Young Workers

As the competition for workforce talent heats up across the United States and worldwide, employers increasingly are coming to realize that youth and young adult workers offer a unique value proposition. The motivations for hiring young workers are almost as varied as the firms that bring them onboard. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, employers that hire young workers cite four primary reasons for doing so:

  1. Create a robust pipeline of their company’s next generation of talent
  2. Fill critical skills gaps
  3. Increase workforce diversity that enables greater customer connection
  4. Spur innovation

The sections below offer more detail on the specific strengths young workers offer to employers, as well as how they can help address business concerns regarding high costs of worker turnover and recruitment, and ensuring a robustly diverse cross section of talent.

Strengths of Young Workers

Young people bring many benefits and strengths to the workplace, including enthusiasm, stamina, a high degree of self-confidence, creativity, ability to learn quickly (particularly with regard to computers and technology), lower labor costs, and more flexible schedules. [7]

Businesses already engaged in youth talent development work report seeing a range of positive outcomes, including increases in employee engagement, customer loyalty, and employee retention. [2]

Turnover and Recruitment

The cost of replacing a worker even in high-turnover, low-wage jobs is estimated at 16 percent of that worker’s annual salary. For slightly higher paying jobs the estimate is 20 percent. For example, replacing a $10/hour retail worker would cost $3,328; a salaried $40,000 worker would cost an average of $8,000 to replace. [4]

Well-supported young adult workers can sharply reduce companies’ turnover and improve performance. As one example, Johns Hopkins Hospital launched a training program for young adults to fill non-medical positions, which substantially reduced employee turnover and hiring costs. The hospital estimated a one-year return of their investment of 74 percent. [8]

Youth employment or related experiences such as intern­ships, co-ops, and apprenticeships can ease the transition to full-time work as an adult and meet the developmental needs of young people by providing responsibilities and challenges in a structured and supportive environment. [5]


A recent report on diversity inclusion found that although a majority of organizations (71 percent) aspire, within three years, to have an “inclusive” culture, only 11 percent report that they currently have one, and that diversity and inclusion initiatives often struggle at companies that do not have well designed recruiting processes that attract diverse employees. Over two-thirds of respondents (70 percent) reported their organization promotes itself as being diverse and inclusive, but only 10 percent “strongly agree” that the recruitment process is designed to attract diverse employees. [3]

Of ten leading technology companies that reported diversity statistics, on average about 70 percent of employees were male, and over 60 percent were white with a much higher share in pure tech jobs. [1]

Research shows that by recruiting and hiring employees who represent a wider range of backgrounds and perspectives, companies can create more effective marketing strategies that better speak to the needs of customers and thus broaden their markets. “Because we focus on having our employee base mirror our customer base, there is a direct tie to sales.” Gerry Pierce, Wegmans grocery chain senior vice president of human resources [6]


[1] Conner, F. 2014. Diversity Stats: 10 Tech Companies That Have Come Clean. TechRepublic. 

[2] Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Study. 2011. Deloitte. 

[3] Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarking Report: An Analysis of the Current Landscape.
2014. Deloitte.

[4] Boushey, H., & Glynn. S. 2012. There Are Significant Business Costs to Replacing Employees. Center for American Progress. 

[5] Khatiwada, I., McHugh, W., Palma, S., Ross, M., Sum, A., and Trubskyy, M. 2014. The Plummeting Labor Market Fortunes of Teens and Young Adults. The Brookings Institute. 

[6] Making Youth Employment Work: Essential Elements for a Successful Strategy. 2015. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 

[7] Foggin, M., Fyre, C., Lee, M. and Zucker, S. 2012. Going Beyond the Bottom Line: Employer Perspectives on the Young Adult Workforce Development System in New York City. JobsFirstNYC. 

[8] ROI and Cost Benefit Analysis. 2014. Grads of Life.