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April 2010: Recent Study Reveals Job Security More Important Than Pay and Benefits for University Students

April 6, 2010

A recent survey conducted by KPMG*, a global network of firms providing audit, tax and advisory services, found that more than 75% of those polled considered job security their top priority when searching for a job as a result of the uncertain economic environment. The survey also found that 67% said they were more likely to work for a public or non-profit organization than a corporate business due to the recession.

These findings correlate with my recent research findings on the impact of the recession on the Millennial generation in which 55% either do not plan to work for corporate America or are unsure, defined in the survey as more than five years. The plans for the future mentioned were starting a business, going into government or non-profit work.

According to the KPMG survey, factors most important to students when choosing a future employer include:

  • Real opportunities to learn new skills and develop themselves personally and professionally
  • Challenging and exciting work
  • Working with and learning from talented colleagues

These attributes have been shown to be consistent definers of the Millennial generation before the recession but I believe, as this study shows, the Millennial generation is holding tighter to the attributes they believe in. The Millennial generation is known to be a group that wants to understand the “why” behind the work they do and how they and their work fit into the larger picture. They want to work for a company that helps its clients and the communities they serve. They want to continue to grow their knowledge and skills and enjoy working in teams.

But how this generation defines loyalty is still very different from how older generations have defined it in the past. The KPMG survey found that 55% of respondents said they might stay with their first employer for two-to-four years. Companies know that at that three-to-five year mark employee start becoming valuable and losing them at this point impacts a company in many ways.

Regardless of the economic environment, companies need to begin looking at the culture of the organization and making significant changes to retain this talent beyond the two-to-four years mark. Companies should be considering how career paths, job expectations and how to get ahead (read promotion) are discussed with young new hires. In addition companies need to focus on incorporating the option to be considered for a stretch assignment or job/department rotation and instituting (whether formally or informally) ways to get employees connected with an internal mentor or career advisor. Failure to act now will negatively impact a company’s growth and talent retention well into the future.

*About the KPMG study: Over 350 university students were surveyed that are involved with programs sponsored by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFF), a global non-profit group active on college campuses. The survey was conducted at the recent SIFE World Cup held in Berlin. The survey results were released March 9, 2010.

Noteworthy: It’s no April Fools joke…Ira Wolfe’s blog – Geeks, Geezers and Googlization (April 1, 2010) discussed the SBR Consulting research findings regarding the impact of the recession on the Millennial Generation. Please click here to access the blog post.

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