Graduates Are Redefining Workplace Dynamics - New CEMS Report

• Graduates are drawn to companies that value community, not just their workforce.
• Despite popular opinion, they still crave office life and a sense of belonging and are happy to commit to an employer in the long-term.
• Graduates want work schedules to be fluid, dictated by demand rather than tradition.
• They see careers as a series of stepping-stones, not a predetermined path

New graduates embarking on their careers are redefining the modern workplace, according to a new global report from CEMS – the Global Alliance in Management Education. 

The report The Future-Forward Workforce reveals what young professionals want from the new world of work and what leading employers are doing in response. 

It reveals that this generation is shunning the 9-5 in favour of more fluid schedules, dictated by demand rather than tradition.  They are happy to work outside of ‘office hours’ if their employer is flexible in return.

Contrary to popular opinion, for these graduates, the office isn't obsolete; it's a cornerstone of community building and professional growth. 

They are also open to long-term commitment to a single company, provided the right conditions are met, such as challenging roles, growth opportunities, and a responsive company culture.

For these graduates, careers are a series of stepping-stones, not a predetermined path. Long-term plans are replaced by a focus on the next decade - a recognition of the world's fluidity and unpredictability.

Adaptability reigns supreme

The report's findings are drawn from a quantitative survey of recent CEMS graduates worldwide, complemented by in-depth interviews to delve deeper into the perspectives of these young professionals.

It also taps into the opinions of senior experts from among the 70 CEMS Corporate Partners and 33 business school partners across the globe, to get their take on the issues raised and discuss how they are adapting their practices and teachings to attract and retain top talent.

The report also includes sets of recommendations for employers, educators and young professionals.

Nicole de Fontaines, Executive Director of CEMS, commented, "These insights from our CEMS graduates reveal a workforce ready to embrace change, driven by purpose, and eager to balance work with personal growth. While of course we cannot speak for every graduate, these perspectives can offer valuable guidance for companies aiming to recruit and retain top young talent."

“At a time where adaptability reigns supreme, the exchange of insights and experiences becomes more invaluable than ever. For students, early exposure to the expectations and demands of the corporate world is essential. Equally vital is the readiness of businesses to embrace the fresh perspectives and dynamic energy of these young individuals, who are navigating a reality that is markedly different from their predecessors.”

New and healthy ideas

Susanne Iser, Director Strategic Recruitment & Talent Acquisition at Beiersdorf AG, a CEMS Corporate Partner and contributor to the report said:

“I have a super positive attitude to the new generation in the workplace. I think they bring a freshness and new and healthy ideas about the world of work. They have a more holistic work concept, looking at work as an integral part of life. They are courageous, they know what they want and can articulate it. They have trust in themselves and have worked hard to ensure they can make the most of their education. For companies the learning is that we must listen to what they want, if we don’t, they will move on, with no hard feelings.”

Balancing needs with business requirements

Francesca Morichini, Chief HR Officer at Amplifon, who also contributed to the report, said:

“Young people are clear they want to find purpose work and enjoy it. Having an impact on their community is very welcome and helps us know what we need to do to engage with them. However, it is important to balance needs and wants with an understanding of the requirements of the business. There are some actions, contents, or ways of working that are required to make the business work and perform.”

“The desire to be valued and heard is something we perceive very strongly in our young people and it’s critical for us to build this into our culture. We value young people who want to share, speak up and have an opinion independently of their seniority. Having a bold and empowered workforce can only help the organization.”

An open exchange will unlock potential

Leonard Bussee, President of CEMS Student Board, said:

"I am proud to be a future CEMS graduate and, more so, take pride in the community I represent. What transpires from the report is that our program manages to create transformational and emboldened leaders who look towards the future with clear vision. They recognize the changing work environment and emerge confidently without fear of what might come but rather with unmatched excitement about their ability to shape workplaces suitable for themselves and their peers.

As the report shows, our graduates present incredible potential to the companies that hire them. I am grateful for our Corporate Partners and all companies who realize said potential and challenge our young professionals on providing value for their organizations. The future of work is approaching at a rapid pace and it takes an open exchange about desires and demands from all sides to unlock the full potential of what can be achieved.”


A copy of the report is also available for download here.