Kite L&D app supports a new generation of talent soaring into the tech sector

  • Mairead Moore and Natalie Duncan, adaptors of the Kite L&D app, explain why we need to focus on enhancing interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence  to support  young people’s professional development in the new era of working

    The Kite Program was founded in New Zealand by mental health advocate and HR professional Hannah Hardy-Jones in late 2018. Hannah wanted to use her own experience of serious mental illness for good by creating a resource that could be accessible and applicable to as many people as possible. 

    The app began as a resource for mothers but has since been readapted to tailor to other groups such as people who suffer from eating disorders and university students.

    Mairead Moore, co-founder of Whytematter, and Natalie Duncan, an HR professional, are taking this app into a new market within the UK and Ireland tech sector to support businesses and universities engaging their people with the aspect of professional development while keeping their well-being the forefront of the learning journey.

    As more young people enter employment, with that comes their new perspectives and fresh ideas which can alter what is expected from employers. This new generation of talent prioritises differently, as they are more tuned in to their mental health and more aware of ethical practices within businesses.

    Regarding the Kite L&D app’s application to this, Mairead said: “We want this app to be a support tool for young people within the tech sectors or in the education sectors to help them develop in areas they maybe have missed out on because of COVID.”

    “Our app will allow the support of those young people with areas that they need support on. It can be anything from their well-being to the functionality of their actual day-to-day job that they may not be comfortable asking questions about. I think as an employer there is a responsibility to be able to support these young people because the biggest issue is staff retention.”

    She continued: “The young people that are coming out of education have worked mainly in isolation and they're not as familiar with the status quo of what would be expected in an office. There's a responsibility for employers to support those people but also in supporting their business. Many of our clients have reported a massive decrease in productivity and sales due to issues like team culture and staff retention following COVID, but we are offering tools to combat those issues and also bring these people up to speed.  Our app will allow that with all its different modules.”

    Kite L&D offers a learning experience in bite-sized activities to influence behaviours in a non-invasive and fun way.

    Although generational differences can cause communication breakdowns, it is important to also be aware of not ‘pigeonholing’ people by their age group but instead understand that every individual has different needs. The app functions in a way that allows each user to choose what modules or “kites” to focus on, through a quiz that can help them to decide or manually select themselves. This includes topics such as imposter syndrome, how to network, how to be innovative or how to stand out.

    Speaking about generational differences, Natalie said it is something that should be embraced. She said: “One of the modules on Kite is called “Get unstuck”. It goes in-depth into how people who have maybe been in their role for a long time can take inspiration from fresh talent who come in with a new perspective. I think that's really important.”

    “From the other perspective, the app can also be used for functional support. For example, quick access to the company's core values. From a professional point of view, there are things an 18-year-old entering a company for the first time might not be aware of. The app can provide bite-sized learning about security and safety and how you can be a better representation of that organisation.”

    In the past, the general thought of work would be, “you’re lucky to have a job”. However, the job market has now evolved as people are changing and companies need to work harder to retain their staff. Due to this, companies need to offer more than just pay and fulfil more of the expectations of the staff.

    Mairead explained: “Things like this are no longer a "nice to have", it's an essential that you are there to look after your people because it's your biggest overhead. In a lot of organisations, they're constantly being headhunted on a daily basis from other recruitment companies being offered something else.”

    “Nearly all the tech roles can be remote, which means we're now up against roles based in London and Dublin that offer higher wages.  So there has to be a responsibility there on the employers to provide support.”

    The economy has been affected enormously over the last few years by Brexit, COVID, the Financial Crisis and the war in Ukraine. This puts pressure on staff which will cause them to look to their employer for help as work is where they spend the majority of their time.

    Natalie expanded on this and said: “Focusing on the financial crisis itself, no business can compete with the rate of inflation. The very first thing that motivates people is that their financial needs are being met. After that, you're talking about the psychological needs, which are your mental health and your well-being.”

    “I think that it is so important, now more than ever, that businesses are focusing on that area when they can't meet the financial needs of their employees. Silent quitting, it's a huge threat, where someone isn't actually quitting a job but they're so demotivated that they're not going to put 100% effort in anymore. So you're losing a lot of productivity through that problem.”

    Looking to the future, Mairead and Natalie explained that tailored support tools like KITE L&D are something that all businesses will have to supply to their staff as we live in an increasingly ethically aware world.

    Mairead said: “Technology has grown so rapidly so fast and everything changes in a very short period. That is when we have to adapt and understand our young people because they're our future. For example, it's like second nature for young people to access everything on their phones now. They won't take the initiative to ask for things because they are so used to just lifting their phone and looking it up online.”

    “With the Kite L&D  app, it's extremely beneficial to have that help in the palm of your hand, that you can access support and help for things you might not want to ask for. You can do it in a confidential and discreet way without being judged.”

    The app has seen success at Victoria University in New Zealand, Auckland. It was for students staying in halls of residence who have moved away from home for the first time, struggling to make friends but it also dealt with supporting them in tasks such as managing their finances. Mairead and Natalie hope to continue this success with the possibility of extending it into the education sector here.

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