How to get a First-Class performance out of graduate employees

For many students across the country, myself included, the coming weeks will mark the end of our time at University. After three years of studying, we will all graduate in the hope of moving on to bigger and better things and with an 18% increase in employment for university leavers in the last year, it’s a dream that feels more possible to realize than ever.

And yet, there is an increasing amount of research that proves this might not be the case. Despite most students finding employment in their chosen field, 7 in 10 recent graduates report feeling underemployed or underutilized in a graduate-level job (UK University graduate employment study). It’s a dissatisfaction that is felt on both sides of the employee-employer relationship, with over 51% of bosses believing it is difficult to find and retain millennial workers (Cascade HR).

It’s becoming clear there is a fundamental distance developing between the expectations of graduates and those of their employers, with both groups struggling and often failing to understand the other. At the same time as students entering the work force are reporting feeling undervalued as individuals, businesses are communicating a frustration over the need for regular progress meetings and detailed targets to keep millennial employees motivated.

A degree can be a valuable asset to a person and yet the achievement of that degree might be the very thing causing the disconnect that plagues businesses and graduates alike. Most undergraduate courses are built around meeting detailed criteria under the watchful guidance of an advisor, so moving into a professional environment that values initiative and self-motivation can be somewhat of a culture shock.

It’s a difficult relationship to navigate, but both parties are essentially saying the same thing – this generation of employees are different to the rest and to function this needs to be acknowledged. “A job for life” is a thing of the past, and without this security businesses need to find other ways to motivate a work force but, at the same time, graduates like myself may also need to more realistic about entry-level roles, especially those with little experience.

Surely, compromise is the way forward. Graduates need to be brave, to take more initiative in the work place, and understand that we’re just starting out and have a lot to learn. At the same time, businesses could benefit from ensuring their environment allows and promotes this, whilst acknowledging this generation is vastly different to the last.

Ultimately, one size doesn’t fit all

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