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High Potential – failing or succeeding?

Traineeships have become very popular over the years. Both for ambitious organizations as well as for young professionals.


Organizations often see it as the perfect way to recruit new talent and prepare them for the top. Consequentially, a lot of time, money and energy is put into it. Among millennials traineeships are also getting a lot of attention. It’s often seen as THE way to kickstart your career.


And not without reason, because often this is exactly what a traineeship leads to. It leads to personal growth and offers chances for trainees to make career within no time. But, if we’re honest: too often a traineeship results in the opposite. The young professional leaves the organization earlier than desired. Sometimes resulting in feeling overworked or even ending up in a burn-out. In this blog I want to tell you a bit more about this flip side.


In the first place, traineeships often can’t live up to the high expectations. The lavish presentation at the front and sky-high selection criteria at the door, create expectations that are not in line with the harsh reality. After they’ve been sourced on their first project, the warm bath turns into an unwanted cold shower within no time.


Secondly, a traineeship does not only do wonders for your personal growth, but also for your stress levels. Which in turn could lead to a burnout. A traineeship means going all-in from the start. Private life is pushed aside, and you focus fully on performing at your best professionally. And let’s not forget about the daunting question that’s looming above your head: what do I want after this?


Is the answer to all of this to get rid of traineeships completely? I don’t think so. By getting rid of traineeships, we’d be getting rid of something that can also be so beautiful and give young professionals amazing opportunities. Personally, I see it as a necessity and a chance to make sure that mental well-being becomes an integral part of the traineeship.


A recent study from Satistics Netherlands (CBS) shows just how necessary it is to pay attention to well-being.[1] It concluded that 25% of all young adults (18-25 years) feel mentally unhealthy. Worldwide research from Deloitte shows that more than 41% of millennials and Gen Z’s always feel stressed. And 40% thinks their employer doesn’t give the proper guidance when it comes to mental well-being. [2]


But not just from a prevention point of view, also from the point of amplification. [3] We know that satisfaction and involvement increase among employees after implementing a well-being program. Which will decrease the chance of them leaving the company. Besides, research shows that organizations with a high employee well-being average deliver higher stock returns. [4]


So the answer to the question ‘high potential: failing or succeeding?’ has, in my eyes, everything to do with the amount of attention there is for mental well-being as an integral part of a traineeship.

[1] CBS (3 sept 2020). Mentale gezondheid in eerste helft 2021 op dieptepunt.

[2] The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey

[3] While prevention focuses on preventing illness and complaints, amplification focuses on strengthening and improving the mental well-being of employees, in order to promote work engagement, happiness and productivity.

[4] Prof. Alex Edmans (2020). Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around the World

About the author

Rob van Drunen

Besides being the spiritual father of i45, Rob is also the co-founder of Mannenkracht, author, speaker and coach. In a past (pre burnout) life, Rob was a change consultant. Now, Rob is known to be an expert, both in knowledge and experience, in the field of personal growth. He likes to experiment with high performance habits and is above all the happy father of a son and daughter.

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