Graduates have new expectations of a modern workforce

8 July 2024
A new report reveals graduate workers value flexibility, and are prepared to commit long-term to an employer who meets their needs.
Associate Professor Dan Caprar

Associate Professor Dan Caprar

Graduates are drawn to companies that value community, still crave office life and a sense of belonging, and will consider long-term commitment to one company according to a new global report from the Global Alliance in Management Education. 

The Future-Forward Workforce report features insights from 200 recent management graduates, 70 corporate partners and 33 business schools around the world, revealing what young professionals want from the new world of work – and what leading employers are doing in response. 

It reveals this generation is shunning the 9-5 in favour of more fluid schedules dictated by demand rather than tradition. They are happy to work outside of ‘office hours’ if their employer is flexible in return. 

Contrary to popular opinion, the office isn't obsolete; it's a cornerstone of community building and professional growth.  

They are also open to long-term commitment to a single company, provided the right conditions are met, such as challenging roles, growth opportunities, and a responsive company culture. 

For these graduates, careers are a series of stepping-stones, not a predetermined path. Long-term plans are replaced by a focus on the next decade. 

Adaptability reigns supreme

The report was produced by CEMS, a global alliance of leading business schools, multinational companies and NGOs that together offer the CEMS Master in International Management. The University of Sydney Business School is the only member university in Australia.

Associate Professor Dan Caprar, CEMS Master of Management program director at the University of Sydney Business School, said: “The report, and our direct classroom experience with CEMS students, indicate that our graduates are set to transform the workplace by integrating seemingly contrasting perspectives on work: they embrace the idea of pursuing traditional careers while also wanting to do work that is meaningful and personally enriching. 

“They take a holistic view of the role of business, are comfortable with uncertainty, and understand the importance of inclusive approaches to work – all essential capabilities for successfully addressing the complex challenges of the modern world.”

Nicole de Fontaines, Executive Director of CEMS, commented: “These insights from our CEMS graduates reveal a workforce ready to embrace change, driven by purpose, and eager to balance work with personal growth. While of course we cannot speak for every graduate, these perspectives can offer valuable guidance for companies aiming to recruit and retain top young talent.

“At a time where adaptability reigns supreme, the exchange of insights and experiences becomes more invaluable than ever.

For students, early exposure to the expectations and demands of the corporate world is essential. Equally vital is the readiness of businesses to embrace the fresh perspectives and dynamic energy of these young individuals, who are navigating a reality that is markedly different from their predecessors.
Nicole de Fontaines, Executive Director of CEMS

Francesca Morichini, Chief HR Officer at Amplifon, was one of the corporate partners who contributed to the report. She said: “Young people are clear they want to find purpose at work and enjoy it. Having an impact on their community is very welcome and helps us know what we need to do to engage with them. However, it is important to balance needs and wants with an understanding of the requirements of the business. There are some actions, contents, or ways of working that are required to make the business work and perform. 

“The desire to be valued and heard is something we perceive very strongly in our young people and it’s critical for us to build this into our culture. We value young people who want to share, speak up and have an opinion independently of their seniority. Having a bold and empowered workforce can only help the organization.” 

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