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June 26, 2019 | by Staff

Helping Young Employees Finding Meaning in Work

In a study released earlier this year, the nationwide polling firm Gallup and Bates College released the results of interviews with more than 2,000 college graduates, 600 hiring managers and 1,000 parents of students who are college bound, in college or who recently graduated from college. The study’s goal was to “measure the extent to which college graduates seek and find purpose in their work.”

MSCI also is interested in this question.

Our industry will face an increasing number of retirements in the next several years and has historically had difficulty attracting young college graduates. To help our members think about this increasingly serious issue, several of MSCI’s conferences this year included students from the renowned Texas A&M Industrial Distribution Program who discussed what young people want in selecting industries and companies for their career goals.

As this story explains, we found young people today put a premium on finding meaning in their work.

Gallup and Bates reached the same conclusion. According to the Gallup survey, four out of five college graduates believe it is very important (37 percent) or extremely important (43 percent) to derive a sense of purpose from their jobs. In a separate survey, polling firm Morning Consult found more than half of individuals who are part of the Millennial generation and Generation Z (individuals born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s) want to work for a company that has “a mission” or “contributes to society in a positive way.”

Less than half of college graduates told Gallup they have achieved that goal, however, a problem we know can lead to high rates of turnover and employee dissatisfaction.

To help address the gulf between young people’s wishes for employment and their actual feelings, Gallup and Bates also asked respondents what could help them find purpose in their jobs. These findings are instructive for employers, and also can shape how employers work with institutions of higher education to prepare young people for life after education.

The report said, high levels of graduates’ purpose in work are strongly and significantly related to four key college experiences (controlling for all other factors):

  • Having an applied internship or job during their undergraduate years;
  • Having a mentor who encourages individuals’ goals and dreams;
  • Being given realistic expectations for post-graduation employment prospects; and
  • Participating in a class/program that helps students think about pursuing meaning in work.

Gallup and Bates’ full report is available for download here.