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What young people want from future bosses

BY: SGI|11 July 2019
BLOG| My future career

What do recent today’s school leavers want in future employers? It’s a crucial question that’s not asked often enough. So, we put together a poll asking young people – mostly 23 and under – what they’re seeking in prospective bosses. Interestingly, the opportunity to study is the factor that matters most – even above good pay! But other factors also come into play. Let’s delve right in…


An empathetic encouraging boss

When asked what the most important trait in an employer was, responses varied with most wanting a boss to be empathetic, encouraging, dedicated and ethical. Additionally, one respondent wrote, “Someone that understands business, but also knows that their employees are human and need a little help and guidance along the way, while giving employees space to fail in a safe environment.” The ability to delegate was another interesting answer.


Opportunities to grow

When ranking these qualities, participants voted these as the most important:

  • ‘gives me challenges and opportunities to grow’
  • ‘mentors me’
  • ‘values me’
  • ‘encourages collaboration’.


Studying trumps pay check

Access to ongoing learning and training opportunities matters most to people – in fact, the chance to study further (50%) ranks above a good pay-check (25%)! Additionally, young people prioritise travel opportunities (20.8%) and a cool culture. Flexitime and work from home opportunities are also attractive prospects to a lesser degree.


Prioritising people

Young people want to work for a company that’s famous for prioritising its people (29.2%) or famous for innovation (also 29.2%). Others have set their sights on a company famous for being ethical (25%) or having a cutting-edge culture (12.5%). Environmental conscientiousness was also an attraction.


The Big Take-Away?

Young people want to work for employers who give them opportunities to study, grow and travel, pay them well, are ethical and innovative, and have a cool culture… As do we all!


It’s imperative to entrench a strong learning culture in an organisation. Agile organisations rely on continuous iteration and ‘failing forwards fast’ to quickly bring ideas to market. This kind of agility relies on a whole team chasing and contributing to one vision. It comes from the breaking down of siloes and encouragement of collaboration. It also leans on a mature, inclusive, ‘blame-free’ culture, where people are encouraged to share knowledge and ideas through open communication channels. All these factors can be honed through continuous learning.


At the level of the individual, it’s also vital to realise that people need purpose. When there’s no clear path for growth, individuals can get bored and feel unfulfilled. We are thinking, feeling, creative, compassionate, empathetic, intelligent creatures. All the traits that make us uniquely human must be nurtured. And that again, is where online learning comes into play. With the digital age ushering in rapid change, we need to continuously refresh skills to feel relevant and energized.


Some other interesting insights…

  • Most participants (37.5%) believe they’ll have three to five employers in their working careers
  • 41.7% are certain they’ll start their own businesses. Another 41.7% said maybe they will
  • Most think they’ll juggle two jobs simultaneously (41.7%)
  • BUT, most also believe they’ll work fulltime (83.3%) rather than freelance
  • The majority (37.5%) aren’t keen to collab with robots, which is a little worrying given the machine-human collaborations called for in the digital age
  • The overwhelming majority (70.8%) think they’ll have at least one dramatic career change – like moving from medicine into construction. 25% said they’ll make three big moves like this


*The sample size of this poll was 24 young people from varying industries


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