Even before the pandemic, new graduates reported feeling unprepared for entering the workforce. A 2019 Indeed study of 2395 young people across Australia found that one in five Gen Zers (born between 1997 and 2012) believed their education hadn’t prepared them for working life, and over a third felt ill-equipped for the future of work.
Though university might seem like a lifetime ago for many of us, we can all remember feeling unsettled when starting in a new role or at a new workplace. Even with the best onboarding processes, it can take weeks or months to feel comfortable and understand the organisation and your place within it.
Graduates today face the unique challenge of entering the workforce into remote or hybrid teams. Though digital natives by nature, many Gen Zers feel disadvantaged, having missed out on traditional workplace experiences like learning professional “soft skills” from leaders. Given the disruption to our working lives over the past two years, it shouldn’t be surprising that 82 percent of Generation Z have never worked in an in-person office environment full-time (Indeed, 2022).
“By supporting individuals early in their career, the tone is set for how the organisation supports its people now and into the future, and allows graduates to shape their working life in a sustainable and healthy way.” Dr. Sarah Cotton.
Positive early experiences at work can be a protective factor to help develop resilience and the ability to adapt to work challenges and improve longer-term mental health and wellbeing.
Young people provide significant value to the workplace. Still, they can be vulnerable to various mental health and wellbeing challenges, including job strain, inadequate supervision and training, limited networks, competing life pressures, and workplace bullying and harassment.
Now more than ever, leaders are called upon to support their graduates in a way that sustains their wellbeing and allows them to view their careers through a long-term lens.
With a sharp increase in mental health assistance requests, workplaces must implement proactive mental health and wellbeing initiatives that build capability and sustainability for young workers. While many fundamental principles of adapting to working life still apply, we need to step back, reflect, and think about how graduates will adapt to their new careers in a post-COVID-19 world.
Define, promote and provide high-quality work for younger workers. High-quality work refers to a reasonable balance of job demands, control, security, and a balance of effort and reward.
Develop a culture of supporting young workers through staff inductions to welcome younger staff into the organisation; regular check-ins around transition; pairing younger workers with peers, experienced staff, and mentors.
Provide inclusive leadership training and development that positively embraces the benefits of young workers and addresses unconscious bias.
Deliver staff training for younger workers to address the potential risks associated with a lack of experience. Generally speaking, training should be practical and meaningful, focused on how to do their jobs, communicate effectively, and access appropriate support.
Provide graduates with an opportunity to learn techniques they can apply to the transition from university to working life and beyond with our Graduate Transition Series. For more information, connect with us here.