Jul 1, 2013 0
By Claes Peyron
Today’s young generation brings a brand new set of values to the workplace. The emerging workforce is not just looking for a high salary, or a successful career; young people want more. They want purpose. They want to know why: “Why should I work here, how does it fit into what I want with my life and why does this company do what it does?” Today’s students and recent graduates do not make the same distinction between work and spare time as previous generations did. Their careers are an important part of their identity and consequently an integral part of their life in general. In a recent global Universum study on career personalities, 85 percent of those surveyed said that their work is part of who they are, not just a way of making money .
Moreover, a study conducted in 2011 by newspaper publisher Metro International and strategy consultancy United Minds, which covered 15,000 young city dwellers all over the world, found similar results. Six out of ten respondents claimed that work is part of who they are, not just a way of making money .
Furthermore, in the global Universum Student Surveys,  work/life balance has been the number one career goal among students for several years in all countries where Universum conducts its research (with the exceptions of Russia and Poland, where job security is the number one career goal, and South Africa, where dedication to a cause and serving a greater good is the top priority). Similar results were found in a study conducted by PwC in 2011 among millennials: the factor that most influenced their decision to accept their current job was the opportunity for personal development . Some students have even decided to create their own sense of meaning and purpose by starting their own business. In the 2013 Universum Student Survey, students when questioned about their career plans after graduation showed a surprisingly strong interest in pursuing an entrepreneurial career. This is especially true in the UK, Sweden, Poland and Russia, where more than 15 percent of the student population said that their first choice after graduation was to either join a start-up or start their own company.
Universum’s research identifies another trend among students: “the maker’s mindset”, or the search for tangible attributes. In the past, life and work yielded more tangible results. People grew their own food and made their own tools, clothes, homes and belongings. Universum’s Student Survey  indicate that “exciting products and services” is one of the most attractive attributes of an employer, possibly reflecting students’ propensity to turn to tangible factors when employers are unable to communicate a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Students today demand results. When students do not see the results of organizations’ work in society, they instead turn to the results they are able to see – the tangible goods and products that companies produce.
In short, we are returning to a state in which there is little balance between work and life, because work and life are not separate entities. In the agricultural societies of the past, work and life were intertwined. This changed during the industrial era, when the division became clearer. Today, however, the advance of technology is facilitating a merger of work and life once again. Employees can work where and when it suits them. Instead of being concerned about time off from work to do what they really want, they are more interested in having enough time at work to do what they really want. Companies need to provide an environment where
life and career are one.
Welcome to the Talent Agenda
This article is from our first report of 2013 that explores the importance of employer differentiation and what we like to call “Life Careerism”. The white paper on Life Careerism belongs to a series of insight reports called the Talent Agenda that identify the trends in the global talent market and explore how these may affect employers.
You can download the full report at www.universumglobal.com/lifecareerism
1. Universum survey on career archetypes, 2013
2. The Metropolitan Report #1, Metro International and United Minds
3. Universum Student survey, 2006–2013
4. Millennials at work – Reshaping the workplace, PwC, 2011
5, Universum Student survey, 2013