- The 2021 World’s Most Attractive Employers rankings show students still prioritize high future earnings above all other employer attributes.
- Finding secure employment rose sharply in importance for young talent.
- Richard Mosely, Global Client Director of Universum, explains just what exactly young talent is prioritizing within their careers.
Universum, the global leader in employer branding, surveyed over 221,800 students in business, engineering and IT from the 10 largest economies between September 2020 and May 2021. The survey asked students which employer characteristics are most influential as they consider future employment, and which employer brands they most admire.
The 2021 World’s Most Attractive Employers rankings show students still prioritize high future earnings above all other employer attributes, but finding secure employment rose sharply in importance for young talent, jumping by as much as four ranking points for engineering students.
Finding a creative and dynamic work environment (something closely associated with startup careers) dropped in priority for engineering and IT students.
Key Findings from the Research
Young people are pivoting their personal and career priorities
The pandemic prompted students to reevaluate what they want from an employer and a career, and research shows industries with long, grueling schedules may face a reckoning. Finding “challenging work” slipped three ranking points for engineering talent.
For young talent, a jet set career slips in favor
With borders shut and international mobility significantly more difficult and uncertain, students show a waning interest in foreign companies and multinational careers. Across industries we see young people favoring companies headquartered in their home countries.
Employers must consider whether virtual work formats disadvantage younger employees
Virtual and hybrid workforces are here to stay, but talent leaders must take care not to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, particularly with young talent, who see many potential downsides in virtual work formats. The Universum research shows “flexible work” is not a Top 10 priority for business, engineering, or IT students.
Employers should consider talent “personas” as they build their employer branding efforts
The new analysis by Universum shows five key talent personas for young talent. Some young people may be career “go-getters” who prioritize individual performance and career success, while others are “changemakers” who are more focused on making a positive impact on the world. Understanding the five personas and uncovering which are attracted to an employer brand is a more nuanced way to think about talent gaps and opportunities.
Universum CEO Mats Röjdmark believes the new findings will help steer talent leaders who may be stuck in a reactionary mode.
“There’s tremendous pressure on talent leaders right now to separate what are short-term reactions to COVID-19, versus long-term changes to workplace fundamentals. While pundits may declare that virtual work is the future of employment, young talent doesn’t usually agree, according to our research. These kinds of signals are critical for talent leaders as they negotiate a way forward in 2022,” Röjdmark said in the report.
The survey also ranks the top 10 companies that students would be most apt to apply to in business, engineering, and IT:
Business Top Ten
- L’Oréal Group
- EY (Ernst & Young)
- J.P. Morgan
- PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
Engineering Top Ten
- BMW Group
- GE – General Electric
- Volkswagen Group
IT Top Ten
- Cisco Systems
- BMW Group
In a Q&A with Richard Mosely, Global Client Director of Universum, Mosely explained just what exactly young talent is prioritizing within their careers.
Allwork.Space: How has young talent prioritized compensation, career aspirations and other benefits?
Richard Mosely: From a total reward perspective, young talent put the highest priority on high future earnings, more so than immediate salary and far more so than other secondary financial benefits like healthcare or pension contributions.
They also prioritize professional training and development over a clear path for advancement and/or rapid promotion. Interestingly, few students list flexible working as a top priority. It is only when young talent have entered the workforce that we see this rising in importance.
Allwork.Space: What are young peoples’ ideal employer brand attributes and rankings?
The top ranked companies in our global survey, like Google, Microsoft and Apple, tend to be those most associated with inspiring leadership, a strong focus on innovation, and a dynamic, empowering and inclusive work culture. These companies also tend to score well in terms of pay and development, but the top employer attributes mentioned above are those that most differentiate these top-ranking ideal employers from the rest.
Allwork.Space: How are young people favoring companies headquartered in their home countries?
This varies a lot from country to country though there is a general preference globally for companies headquartered in home countries.
The most significant majorities favoring home-based employers are found in the world’s two largest economies, the U.S. (over 80%) and China (over 70%), with Germany and France closer to two thirds. The only major economies with a majority of young talent favoring internationally headquartered companies are Russia and Brazil.
Allwork.Space: What are the short-term reactions to COVID-19 versus long-term changes to workplace fundamentals?
I would suggest that the increasing importance given to secure employment is likely to be a short-term reaction. Secure Employment moved up from being the seventh most important attribute in 2020 to the fourth most important in 2021 among business students, and from tenth to fifth among IT students.
Given the recent mismatch between talent supply and demand across most major western economies, and the accompanying return of the war for talent, this spike in security preference is likely to be short-lived. It’s less easy to be definite about fundamental longer-term changes, as the jury is still out on the longer-term response to big shifts in workplace fundamentals like remote working.