Speaking up for graduates in the workplace

Speaking up for graduates in the workplace

As the graduates of 2019 enter the workplace here’s some ideas for helping them succeed.

Managing an ambitious team of young people is as hard as it gets in agency land.

This isn’t another whiny post about millennials. The internet is full of that shit.

Instead it’s some ideas for creating a supportive work environment. An environment that helps young people thrive and do their best work.

An important life transition

Managing the transition from university to work is the first issue. No one prepares students for this change. There’s a shift in pace and structure.

Studying at university is a consumer experience. The student demands a level of service from the teaching institution.

The relationship between graduate and employer is very different.

There are clear rules to follow in a workplace. Personal relationships, privacy, social life, and timekeeping are all potential flash points.

In agency land managers need to set out clear expectations. They need to mentor graduates during their first year of employment. It's an important life transition.

Learning a craft and taking a positive outlook to constructive feedback

Learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. If you want to get on in a rapidly changing environment you need a positive attitude. Continuous learning and development is important.

This applies to anyone in their career but for graduates it means you need to approach every single day as an opportunity.

Critical review is an important part of the creative process. If you’re precious about your craft you need to get over it.

It happens to me every single day. This article has gone through two reviews. It’s a tough change to make but every review makes your work better.

You also need to invest the time to learn your craft.

The only way to be a better writer is to read and write more.

The only way to be a better designer is to review visual design work and create more.

The only way to become a better developer is to deconstruct apps and websites and build more.

Graduates need to grasp every opportunity that comes their way. Employers also need to create a supportive environment for learning, development, and evaluation.

Bring your work to home and home to work

My Dad worked 6am to 6pm five and half days a week. He downed tools when he wasn’t working.

There’s a blurring in the modern workplace between home and work. This impacts everybody.

International working, being always on, and a 24/7 economy are the drivers for employers.

There’s a corresponding set of drivers that means employees are demanding flexibility. These include childcare, caring for ageing parents, and long commutes.

Employers need to provide a workplace framework to allow a degree of flexibility. Employees needs to recognise that it’s a two-way street. It’s a work in progress in most organisations.

Ambition, motivation and money

There’s a shift in graduates seeking a good workplace culture and work experience over pay.

In fact everyone wants to work in a healthy organisation and do the best work they can. If that’s aligned to a personal purpose so much the better.

The issue of pay is more nuanced. Austerity, the banking crisis, and student debt are resetting expectations in the workplace. Change is slow.

In my view graduates today are as ambitious and motivated to get on as they always have been. In an agency it creates a competitive environment that can be unhealthy.

Job titles are a currency and pay is openly discussed in the office kitchen.

Line managers need to set clear objectives and review them on a regular basis. They need to reward performance and help graduates progress.

My tip for graduates is to figure out how your organisation generates value. Align yourself to that outcome and measure yourself against that metric.

Do not get hung up by peer level comparisons. It will have a detrimental impact on your mental health and workplace performance. Everyone has a different life experience and progresses at different rates.

Open dialogue to build to workplace of the future

The issues facing graduates in the workplace are the same issues that we all face. But there is no denying that the transition from university is tough.

Graduates have an important part to play in helping modernise the modern workplace. That’s a good thing.

If you’re a recent graduate that works with me I’m all ears and I’ve got your back. I hope other employees also have a positive attitude.

Good luck.

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