Think differently

The new generations and the world of work: 5 questions to Manuelle Malot and Geneviève Houriet Segard (NewGen Centre)

Manuelle Malot , EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre Director
Geneviève Houriet Segard , EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre Adjunct Director

For over a decade, the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre has been conducting large-scale surveys of thousands of students and young graduates (under 30) from higher education: management and engineering schools and universities. We spoke to M. Malot and G. Houriet Segard, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the centre, about their main analyses, which shed light on the relationship between these new generations and the world of work.

Reading time :
16 Apr 2024

Many negative prejudices surround young people at work today, including in the media. What do you think would be a more accurate view of young people's relationship with the workplace?

Manuelle Malot : It is essential to break the stereotype that young people are individualistic and disenchanted with business and the world of work. In reality, several studies by the EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre on the aspirations of young graduates reveal a much more positive and committed vision (see references). They see the company as a place for projects and social links, and they value its role in society. However, this vision is not naïve: they see organisations as complex and vertical. While they see companies as innovators in terms of their products and services, they sometimes feel that their organisation and management are outdated, reflecting an old world, particularly in terms of diversity and inclusion. Nine out of ten young people would like to see organisations transformed.


Geneviève Houriet Segard : In fact, it is their career objectives that have evolved. In an increasingly complex and volatile world, they see the company as a place where they can continue to develop their employability: acquiring skills and growing personally is the first objective they put forward for their career. They also see the company as a vehicle for their social impact. Not only its activity but also their own missions must be aligned with their values and make a contribution to society that is meaningful to them. The company embodies a collective adventure, an essential element in a career for almost 9 out of 10 young graduates (89%).


How do you explain this quest for social and environmental meaning in business?

Manuelle Malot :  The younger generations have grown up in a context where societal and environmental issues have become increasingly important. The 1968 generation also called for a form of societal revolution, but addressed their demands to the world of politics. Today's younger generation has more faith in economic power. For young people, companies seem to have in some ways replaced the traditional purveyors of meaning such as the army, religion and school. 96% of young people hold companies accountable for the world's issues, and 73% think it is important to take time out of their working day to work on a project with a social impact.


Geneviève Houriet Segard : Absolutely. To attract and retain young people, companies need to reform in three areas. They need to transform from within, becoming more agile and less complex; they need to improve the employee experience by promoting well-being at work and team cohesion; and finally, they need to clarify their values and raison d'être. It is now essential for companies to commit to their social, environmental and governance responsibilities at a societal level. This is how they can attract and retain young talent.


Beyond these general aspirations, what are the main career expectations of the younger generation?

Geneviève Houriet Segard : In the past, careers were the investment of a lifetime. Today, they are more a series of missions and projects. We have seen the importance of acquiring skills, followed by making a useful contribution to society. Working in an international environment is also expected, but in a different way to previous generations: the new generations are increasingly aware of their ecological footprint, and it is more the international dimension of projects or teams that they want, rather than foreign travel or expatriation. While they are actively seeking stimulating professional environments, they also attach great importance to the balance between their professional and personal lives. For example, 66% of young people want flexible working hours or are in favour of asynchronous working.


Manuelle Malot : To better understand this, the NewGen Talent Centre has drawn up a typology identifying three main profiles among young graduates: the committed profile (29%), focused on global issues and the usefulness of the mission; the intra/entrepreneurial profile (32%) motivated by project management and the autonomy of the missions entrusted; and finally the competitive profile (39%), focused on ambitious career development. A company needs to recruit all profiles, so this grid is very useful for managers to better understand this new generation at work.


What implications do these expectations have for managers?

Manuelle Malot : These aspirations of the younger generation at work have a significant impact on management. "Don't manage me, develop me", they say. A managerial authority that is merely statutory will not be very effective. The new generations expect a manager to inspire and inspire confidence, develop their skills and mentor them. In short, a manager who watches over rather than supervises. In addition, the manager must ensure the protection and recognition of his or her employees, thereby reinforcing their sense of belonging to the team. These expectations of managers cut across all profiles, and even extend beyond recent graduates.


Geneviève Houriet Segard : To illustrate this point: 80% of students consider it important to be able to work independently and responsibly in their assignments. This also demonstrates their desire and ability to take charge of their own projects and initiatives. But here again, managers need to be able to take into account the well-being of their staff, to have a more human management style that encourages collaboration within the company.


What about teleworking?

Geneviève Houriet Segard : Teleworking is less popular than one might think: younger generations rarely want to work more than 2 days out of 5. The office, like the campus, is a place for social interaction and, above all, for learning and developing skills. And let's not forget that working together is one of the main aspirations of the younger generation, as is the atmosphere at work.


Manuelle Malot :The demand for teleworking conceals a much more important demand, that of flexibility and trust. By authorising teleworking, the employer is sending an essential signal in terms of empowerment and autonomy.





Les nouvelles générations et le monde du travail : 5 questions à Manuelle Malot et Geneviève Houriet Segard (NewGen Centre)
16 Apr 2024
The new generations and the world of work: 5 questions to Manuelle Malot and Geneviève Houriet Segard (NewGen Centre)
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For the past 10 years, the NewGen Talent Centre has been conducting large-scale surveys of thousands of students and recent graduates. What is their relationship with the world of work? Read this joint interview with M. Malot and G. Houriet:
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For more than a decade, the #EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre has been conducting large-scale surveys of thousands of students and young graduates (under 30) from higher education: management schools, engineering schools and universities.

Discover this #EDHECVox interview with Manuelle Malot and Genevieve Houriet Segard, respectively Director and Deputy Director of this centre. They discuss their main analyses, which shed light on the relationship between these new generations and the world of work.

#MakeAnImpact #PassionNeverRests #NewGen

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