Work-life balance rank with salary for graduate job seekers

12 February 2019
Work-life balance involving flexible work arrangements is nearly as important as salary for young graduates seeking professional positions, according to a global survey conducted by CEMS Global Alliance of Business Schools.

An international survey of more than 750 recent graduates in nearly 60 countries has found the promise of a good work-life balance, rapid career progress and an opportunity to make an early impact are now significant factors when it comes to choosing a career path.

Three quarters of respondents to the CEMS survey, the majority in their early twenties, also expected to have an executive level role within ten years or less, while 25 percent expected to achieve this level within five years.

The Chair of CEMS and Dean of the University of Sydney Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell, welcomed the survey results describing them as an “indication of the positive values held by today’s graduates”.

[CEMS graduates] crave quick career progression and the chance to make a genuine impact at an early stage
Roland Siegers, CEMS Executive Director

“While being highly motivated and ambitious, these young people also want to lead balanced, well-rounded lives and, importantly, they want to make a positive impact on the lives of others,” Professor Whitwell said.

Founded more than 30 years ago as a pan-European organisation, CEMS now has members schools in South Korea, Canada, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Chile, Japan, Brazil, Egypt, Australia and the United States.

Accredited member schools collaborate on the delivery of a ‘globally integrated’ Master of International Management (MiM) program to around 1,200 students from about 60 different countries annually.

Most graduates follow an international path to success. 

  • Nearly 100 percent of CEMS alumni are employed or are continuing their studies;
  • Almost 50 percent are living outside of their homeland and
  • 75 percent are working for multinational companies.

Commenting on the survey results, CEMS Executive Director, Roland Siegers, said that “CEMS graduates are creative, optimistic and always see an opportunity in change.

“They crave quick career progression and the chance to make a genuine impact at an early stage. Importantly, our research adds weight to the idea that for this generation, work is not all about money. A good work-life balance is more important than ever,” Mr Siegers said.

471 CEMS graduates surveyed included salary in their top three criteria when looking for a new role. This was followed closely by:

  • Work-life balance (405), 
  • Opportunities for quick career progression (390) 
  • Impact at an early stage (291) 
  • Opportunities for global travel was ranked fifth and 
  • Inspirational leadership sixth.

When asked about the skills they felt would be necessary as technology developed in the workplace, the graduates ranked social skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and empathy as most important followed by people management skills including team leadership and motivation.

These were ranked above hard skills including formal qualifications, data analysis and cognitive abilities such as creativity and mathematical reasoning.

“It is important that organisations take note of these insights if they are to benefit from the ambition of our graduates and gain competitive advantage in an uncertain age,” Mr Siegers said.

“This means giving young people an opportunity to tackle projects that deliver real global impact as early as possible while recognising their need for a life outside of work.”

“We already see this in action through our forward-thinking CEMS corporate partners, who recognise the benefit of working with young people on real-life, global business projects even before they reach the workplace,” he said.

The Paris-based CEMS Global Alliance partners with more than seventy social and corporate collaborators including Care International, Maersk, ABB, AstraZeneca, Google, Helti and Deloitte. 

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