The job market is now preparing for the next generation, Generation Z (Gen-Z), said to be born after the mid-1990s. Post pandemic, researchers have come to the conclusion that higher salary is not the most important factor in employing and retaining the new generation.
According to the latest COVID-19 pulse survey from human resources consulting firm, Mercer, that polled more than 850 employers globally, limited career advancement and dissatisfaction with benefits have emerged as two of the primary drivers of higher-than-usual attrition levels. With graduation season taking place in higher institutions across Malaysia, this year’s group of graduates bring a unique perspective to the workforce, after being pushed to emerge from the limitations of studying amid a pandemic.
Environmental Sciences graduate, Damia Munira Bakhthiar, believes that work-life balance is important. The University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) graduate is looking to be part of a healthy and ethical company culture in which employees and the environment are respected. “I would like the opportunity to keep learning and growing, so my employer of choice would be organisations that offer capacity-building opportunities with experienced specialists, paired with the availability of relevant facilities around the workplace to support my professional growth,” she explained.
Brendan Chew Yiun Cherk, a BA (Hons) graduate of International Communication Studies with Film and Television echoed Damia’s point of view. “I value an employer or a workplace that allows for healthy growth and career progression of its employees, with opportunities aplenty for this to happen. This could be through courses, networking, teambuilding, exchange programmes, and feedback sessions (with appropriate courses of action taken). Transparency is also important,” he said. The Ampang native believes that it is also vital for workplaces to emphasise the humane aspect of work. “Productivity can be achieved without being at the expense of employees’ mental health and overall well-being,” Chew added.
Masters in Mechanical Engineering holder, Suggensheevan Suthagar, describes his ideal workplace as an organisation that provides “opportunities for development, good remuneration and benefits, and a supportive work environment”. The 24-year-old Penangite says, “In addition to taking into account the current cost of living, these factors, on top of clear career advancement opportunities, all play a role in employee motivation and productivity.”
Good colleagues and a well-equipped workstation are on Johorian, Tan Kang Rui’s wish list. Tan adds that above and beyond this, he hopes for employers to also see value in supporting an employee’s life-long learning ambitions, such as pursuing post-graduate studies. The youngest of five siblings, Tan graduates with a Degree in Civil Engineering from UNM.
Graduating with a degree is reason for celebration. For Debra Wong, the celebration represents a significant milestone, being the first in her family to graduate with a university education. The Kuching lass, who holds a Degree in International Relations with French, believes the three key characteristics of a good employer is empathy, accountability and clarity of purpose. Wong explains, “I hope to work with managers or employers who take the time to understand the factors that affect my work productivity. Moreover, I would enjoy working with employers who are intentional about building rapport with employees, and providing mentorship, opportunities, and resources for career growth. The working world can be hard to navigate, so I look forward to having someone in the workplace who will sow the seeds and invest in me, point out my mistakes, along with showing me ways that I can do better.” Understanding that every workplace has its own values, vision, and mission, Wong emphasises that she appreciates it when employers are accountable for their own values and take ownership of their work. “Modelling these values encourages employees to do the same,” Wong concludes.
UNM Interim Provost and CEO, Professor Sarah Metcalfe, believes that a university’s role is to prepare its graduates with the attitudes and skills that make them both global citizens and attractive to employers across a range of sectors. This will enable them to go on to bring value to the employers they work with and bring innovation to their future workplaces. “Being an institution that nurtures the newest generation joining the workforce, we are conscious that the key motivating for Gen Z are work-life balance, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. In the same vein, my advice to graduates is to have a positive attitude and show initiative. As the saying goes, ‘You only get out what you put in’. Great places to work have both good leadership and the support of a cohesive team,” she remarked.