Campuses and offices must become living and meeting places for students
Manuelle Malot, Director of the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre and Geneviève Houriet Segard, Deputy Director of the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre, decipher, in an article originally published on The Conversation, their latest study on the ideal NewGen student experience and professional life.
Because remote working has worked beyond expectations during the confinements and has seduced thousands of employees, it is sometimes believed too quickly that it is a solution for the attractiveness and commitment of the younger generations. But the subject of commitment is obviously more complex and encompasses the evolution of the relationship to work, which has been totally transformed after the health crisis.
The aspirations of the new generations, coupled with the deployment of teleworking, have changed their vision of time, place and work relationships. They are redefining the use of campuses and offices. These physical spaces need to evolve, they are becoming the main vehicles of corporate culture and the vehicle for values, attachment and collective adventure.
The NewGen Talent Centre's latest study « Du campus au bureau, comment les jeunes générations veulent apprendre et travailler » deciphers the ideal student experience and working life. Based on the results of two surveys (3,481 and 2,616 respondents, respectively) conducted in 2022 among students at leading business schools, the study highlights the importance of social ties and innovative managerial practices in retaining and engaging younger generations in companies.
The nature of work is changing
The campus and the office, media of the organisation's culture, have more than ever become the vectors of attachment and loyalty of the new generations. Whether it is a question of learning or working, the NewGen want to live a collective adventure. The ideal campus, a place for living and meeting people as much as for learning, prefigures the new role of the office, a vehicle for personal development and social ties.
Under pressure from the NewGen and accelerated by the health crisis, the nature of work has changed... Professional and personal lives are definitely linked, even intertwined, and the priority professional aspirations of young people take this into account: professional and personal development, flexibility and autonomy and finally a growing interest in the societal impact of their employer and their job.
There is no longer any question of work causing suffering or stress; it must be fun and exciting, generate confidence and social ties and, above all, be useful to society. Thus, 73% of young people consider it important to have time off work to work on a project with a societal impact.
These new priorities of the NewGen are having a catalytic effect on the evolution of campuses and offices, and it is up to organisations to create the ferment of this collective adventure that work has become. The managerial transformations that young people are calling for concern more human management, an effort to promote collaboration and cohesion, a review of the organisation of the hierarchy, the introduction of project mode, the adaptation of practices to societal issues, more flexible and freer work to encourage creativity, the ability to learn and the assumption of responsibility by employees. 66% of the young people questioned want flexible working hours or are in favour of asynchronous working.
Attachment to the office
The face-to-face environment on campus as well as in the office is an accelerator of experiences and a catalyst for commitment. Thus, the campus allows for training and commitment to one's convictions thanks to community life. But offices are also expected to be vehicles for personal development for employees and to enable them to have a societal impact. 95% of students believe that the variety of experiences (educational, associative, professional, etc.) on a campus accelerates learning.
Young people have no desire to see the disappearance of offices and overwhelmingly advocate workplaces that embody the identity of the company, that are accessible at will, that facilitate dialogue and with hybrid spaces for extra-professional activities.
Similarly, young people see campus community life as an opportunity to develop skills other than those taught in class, to engage with their beliefs and to socialise with other students. The campus is also seen as a place to meet working professionals and graduates.
Similarly, addressing their environmental and societal concerns to higher education and companies alike, they want campuses and offices to be places of learning, discussion, and development of their skills on these subjects: environment, ethics, diversity, inclusion... Thus, a new function is attributed to these spaces: to be places of training and solutions to the world's challenges to which they want to contribute and for which they make institutions accountable.
New social contract and new management
Whether learning or working remotely, changes in working time and place imply new links, a new social contract, new management based on trust and autonomy as well as managerial practices favouring empowerment.
80% of students consider self-management to be important, as it encourages employees to take responsibility for their work and to be fully autonomous in their tasks. The parallel between the roles of the teacher and the manager is becoming more and more obvious.
Both teachers and managers are less and less authority figures but are perceived as transmitters of skills, know-how and thinking skills, developers of trust. With the dematerialisation of the relationship, the teacher and the manager can no longer be those who supervise (impossible at a distance) but those who watch over with benevolence. They must both give trust (essential at a distance) and give confidence. They are no longer status but inspiration.
In conclusion, it is time to rethink not the spaces but the very attributes of work. Without a campus, there are no memories of a shared experience, no esprit de corps, no pride in one's career. And likewise, without the atmosphere and the collective experience in the office, there can be no attachment to the company, no loyalty, no strong commitment.
This article writtent by Manuelle Malot, EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre Director, and Geneviève Houriet Segard, EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre Deputy Director, has been originally published in french in The Conversation under Creative Commons licence. Lire l’article original.