We started a project with the University of Vienna / International Economics: an international group of students conducted qualitative interviews with a diverse group of co-students: “What kind of organization would you like to work in? How do you imagine the future world of work?”
We started with a kick-off workshop to prepare the students for the interviews, practiced interviewing right away and derived the questionnaire from the first results.
Over the course of 2 months the students conducted the interviews. All (international) students invited to the interviews (25) were eager and happy to participate. Last week we met again to look at the results and together we distilled the main findings of our “new world of work” project:
- Relationship and working with “friends”: good spirit and a working atmosphere in a friendly environment is of highest importance.
- Trust and fairness are highly rated: Trust and teamwork, as well as fair pay.
- Work and life quality is more important than high pay.
- A steep hierarchy for career development: people want to move on and develop over time.
- Big and international corporations are rated over small/medium and start-ups for their possibilities to traveling abroad, meeting other cultures and offering multiple career possibilities.
- Start on a lower level with less responsibility and climb up to medium management. Top management and CEO positions don’t seem desirable: too much work and responsibility.
- One assigned personal mentor/Leader who gives feedback and “teaches us how the work works” – at least in the beginning.
- Open space for better and open communication but own desk for privacy. No playground needed in the office.
- Training and education provided by the company: technical and personal trainings.
- Clear distinction/separation between work and private life: home office as an option, but not necessary “difficult to focus at home”. Still flexible working hours are wanted.
- “We work to live and not like our parents, who lived to work”: students don’t want to fully devote their life to career.
- Paternity leave equally important for men and women: “this is how we measure how developed a corporate culture is”: AND to continue the career with/after children.
- High standards of IT Infrastructure and technology
- CSR, sustainability, social and environmental concerns have a strong focus: no fake CSR.
Christian, the Prof. Vetschera and I were kind of amazed by these results.. is this “new Biedermeier”? We still have more questions than answers
Is this the “we want it all” generation? Is this a generation of people looking for new stability, security and leadership in the midst of a turmoiled world?
We still have difficulties to rate these results: are they modest or the want-it-all generation? Are they just smart and react to the “always on and never done” society? Are they old-fashioned or very forward thinkers? Are they unrealistic with very traditional expectations from a stable work-life or are they reacting to inhumane expectations from 120% flexibility and reactivity? But if we take into consideration that almost all of them have work experience already it seems they are building on experience too.
For sure they have not difficulties in wanting seemingly contradicting qualities at the same time:
- Competition AND community/relationship/friends
- Career development AND extensive free/family time.
- Leadership AND freedom.
- Career yes, but not too much
- Responsibility yes, but not too much
- Working overtime – well yes, but as an exception
- Working with friends like in a community – but clear division between work and private life.
And for sure they don’t seem to be a generation striving for autonomy, self-organization, hierarchy-free organization and full self responsibility – the story we generally hear when it comes to the future of work. Nothing about starting their own companies, going the extra mile or working in start-ups, at least not in the beginning. Maybe they have seen their “always on never done” parents or Generation Y friends and are not turned on by the thought of working day and night for little money without any stability. Are they anxious or smart? Is it about the sample?
It is still too early to draw final conclusions, as we are in the stage of a pre-study. Next step will be an extensive online study to verify and deepen these first results, conducted with a Master Student and the Institute for Organization & Planning. Results can be expected by March 2018.
By the way: there was one company 2 students mentioned as one of the companies that would meet their expectations already: Erste Group!