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Report looks at the attitudes and expectations of graduates and their managers
New research from the Institute of Leadership & Management and Ashridge Business School has found that more than half of new graduate recruits (57%) plan to leave their current role within two years. Two-fifths (40%) said they hoped to find a new job within the year and almost one in five (16%) want to move into a new role as soon as possible despite huge competition for graduate jobs.
Over 1,900 graduates and managers were surveyed for the report, Managing New Graduates, which says there is a clear disconnect between the expectations of new graduates and their employers.
The research found that money, status and career advancement are the key career drivers for the current generation of graduates, with their top three priorities identified as challenging/interesting work (33%), a high salary (32%) and advancing their career (24%).
In contrast, the managers do not agree: when asked what they felt was important to graduates, they underestimated value of salary, career advancement and work-life balance, while overestimating the importance of good management and leadership. The survey found that 38% of graduates said they are dissatisfied with career advancement in their current organisation, while a third of managers (31%) say the greatest challenge when working with graduates is managing their expectations.
Commenting on the results of the research, Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said: "With the cost of graduate recruitment reaching anything up to £3bn each year, such high levels of attrition should not simply be accepted by employers. Organisations put a lot of effort and investment into nurturing and developing their graduates in order to establish a pipeline of talent that will drive innovation, organisational effectiveness and competitiveness. However, a widespread desire among graduates to move on within a few years undermines efforts to manage talent effectively and promote the long term success of the organisation."
Kai Peters, chief executive of Ashridge Business School, added: "To succeed in an increasingly challenging economic environment, organisations must harness the best efforts of all their employees - not least their graduate recruits who will become the leaders and managers of the future. By bridging the gap between what graduates expect and what organisations provide, employers can pave the way for both better graduate recruitment and retention, and a more productive working relationship between graduates and their bosses."
The research also found that more than half of graduates (56%) expect to be appointed to a management role within three years of starting work. At least one in ten (13%) believe that they will be promoted to a management position a year into their first job.
Penny de Valk continued: "Recent graduates are hugely ambitious and are looking for rapid career progression and it seems that the majority do not expect to be able to progress within their current organisation. This desire to move on signals a disconnect between the expectations of graduates and that of their employers. Despite a sizeable majority saying that they are happy with their employer, too many are planning to move on within a very short timescale."
Despite high levels of ambition amongst new graduates, the survey suggests that they do not appear to buy into the long working hour's culture of their managers and are much less likely than their boss to take work home with them. The majority of managers (63%) take work home once or twice a week, compared to just over a third of graduates (38%), while 28% of managers find themselves taking work home four or five times a week, compared to just 17% of graduates. A quarter of graduates never mix work with home life, while this is true of just 6% of managers.
Kai Peters continued: "Despite their desire to move quickly into a management role, most graduates are unwilling to model the behaviour of their bosses as a way of advancing their careers. The current generation of graduates appear more able to separate work from the rest of their life and believe that their high level of education warrants quick promotion.
"This, however, is a trait that employers should not be overly critical of. Employees should be able to complete tasks within office hours and overloading staff does not create an effective workforce. Graduates should not have to take work home, or stay late at work to prove to their managers that they are working hard. Instead they need to demonstrate a can-do attitude, be efficient, effective and driven, and prove to their mangers that they can and will go the extra mile when they need to."
The ILM / Ashridge research found that 56% of graduates want their managers to be a coach/mentor to them. While 75% of managers believe they are fulfilling this role, only 26% of graduates actually feel this is the case.
The report also says that due to the financial downturn graduates have opted to take any job, rather than their ideal job (18%), are working in the right area but not in their ideal job (16%), or are staying in a job their don't like (12%). 17% says they are in the right job but their career advancement is slowed.
Remuneration is a notable point of contention for graduates; a significant proportion think that their salary is below or greatly below expectations (45%), while job status (30%) and achievement at work (28%) are other points of contention. Career advancement and salary prove the biggest disappointment with 80% unhappy with these areas.
The report says graduates favour freedom and independence, rather than direction and control in the way that they work and are managed.
The report makes a number of recommendations for employers:
1) Enable better understanding: managers and graduates need to arrive at a better awareness of each other's hopes and expectations of the workplace. Managers must not see graduates as younger versions of themselves and must instead be more aware of the extent of attitudinal differences between themselves and new graduates.
2) Communications upgrade: both graduates and managers must be able to clearly communicate their expectations and ambitions, and articulate their goals. Organisations should work on improving the communication between graduates and managers, helping them to have open and honest conversations about what they want from work.
3) Empowerment and Autonomy: employers need to evolve their management styles to reflect graduates' desire to be treated as individuals and to have greater freedom at work; this means finding ways of engaging, motivating and monitoring graduates who reject hands-on management by managing the person, not the task.
4) The Manager as Coach: coaching is an ideal way for managers to engage and motivate staff without micro-managing them or quashing their ambition. Organisations must help their managers to understand the difference between coaching and mentoring and create a coaching culture that extends across the organisation.
5) Career Expectations: managers need to improve how they handle graduates' expectations about career, salary and status to find ways of showing graduates what they can achieve within the organisation.
The report, 'Great Expectations: Managing new graduates', is available to download from ILM's website: www.i-l-m.com/generationy
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