These specific expectations have the potential to make a positive change in the workplace. And, when these expectations are met, the likelihood for employee engagement of these new employees increases dramatically.
Let's unpack five expectations that new grads will have as they enter the workforce.
You may hear some myths about a generation who was raised with "participation trophies," and you may have already drawn some conclusions because of this. But, these recent grads actually are searching for employment opportunities where there is increasing responsibility. Recent grads are not looking for "the easy way" or the "worn out path." Instead, they are seeking challenges, a sense of purpose in their work, and increasing responsibilities. Recent grads are not looking for the top position right away, but do expect promotions faster than other generations. But, not because they feel entitled to it, rather it is because of their high expectations they have for the work environment, and desire for tangible career progress.
Recent grads entering the workforce are also expecting regular and constructive feedback. They desire communication from their direct supervisor that is more frequent than any other generation in the workforce. They desire this feedback, not because they don't feel like they will not be a good employee. Rather, they desire feedback because they want to make a difference from their very first day on the job. These recent grads want to have an immediate impact on the work they do, the customers they serve and the employees with whom they work. But, the key is, they expect to receive regular and constructive feedback regarding their performance.
Recent grads entering the workforce are expecting consistent and continuous training and upskilling. This expectation is not a "nice to have" in the minds of recent grads, it is a "need to have." They strongly expect their employers to invest in employee training and growth. These grads place a great emphasis on opportunities to learn and grow and opportunities for advancement. They are not shy about saying they don't know, but are equally not shy about finding the solution. Don't forget, this group of new employees are used to constant information access and instantly finding the answers to their questions through a quick Google search, YouTube video, or posing a question on their favorite social media channel and getting immediate expert responses. Also recall, they desire to make a difference from day one on the job, and then continue to make that difference. So, give them training specific to how to make that impact, and you will see major results from these recent grads.
These new employees seek flexibility in how they work, when they work and where work gets done. They were raised with the ability to quickly find 100 ways to do something (just try Googling or doing a YouTube search for "how to" do anything and you will find a long list of results all expressing different ways to get that particular job done). So, don't be surprised when they ask "why" your organization does it "that way." And, don't be surprised if they offer an alternative method for completing the task at hand. Instead of fighting this desire for expressing flexibility, nurture this innovation mindset and help them cultivate ways in which they can communicate new ideas and new methods of task completion.
Additionally, the typical 9 to 5 be-at-your-desk mentality won't fly with these recent grads. They know better than to believe that the only way work will get done is if they are sitting in their specific cube in an office building. These employees know that it is possible to find wifi and connect to almost anything within minutes. They know that technology has made it possible to flexibly connect remotely, work from their local coffee shop or library, or from their home office space. What's important about this, is that these employees can find their flow in this flexible work environment. And, when an employee finds their flow, your organization reaps the positive results.
These grads also desire a workplace where they have the freedom to make choices that have an impact and be held accountable to those choices. Accountability is a common language with this group of new employees. According to Craig Hickman, Roger Connors, and Tom Smith (the Oz Principle) accountability is "A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results” (1994). This is the definition that rings true with these recent grads, as it places ownership and accountability and results squarely on their shoulders... and that is right where they want it.
These five expectations (Increasing responsibilities, regular and constructive feedback, consistent training/upskilling, flexibility, and accountability) that new grads entering the workforce have will fundamentally change the way many organizations operate. Embrace these news employees and their positive impact on the workplace. Embrace the changes and shifts that will occur by having these employees in your workplace. And, most importantly, enjoy the engagement and productivity benefits your organization will reap by welcoming these new employees.
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