Dove Nest Group

Graduate Development Programmes: Generation Z

Graduate development programmes have consistently proven to be invaluable in the transfer and assimilation of organisation culture and values. Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2012) are now beginning to graduate. What might be the implications of this new generation, for traditional graduate development programmes?

Generation Z is a smaller cohort compared with Millennials or generation Y. So, a smaller cohort will likely mean that the demand and competition for graduates will become more intense.

A recent article in Fortune makes an interesting observation about Generation Z:

“They’re much more confident and assertive about their goals, and a lot more knowledgeable about employers, than Millennials were at the same age.”

The combination of fewer graduates, increased competition, increased confidence, could result in balance of power further shifting in the graduate’s favour. If so, what then are the implications of this increased competition, for graduate development programmes?

Historically, graduate programmes often included a focus on organisation culture and values. Simply put, organisations want new graduates to buy in to their core values. Programmes which addressed “how to behave”, or “how we do things here” were employed to bridge any perceived behaviour gap between academia and the workplace, ultimately helping accelerate graduate integration.

The approached seemed to be more of a one-way communication flow: with values being transmitted by the organisation and received by the graduates. This one-way transmission approach, might not be delivering the expected results. Just as organisations want their new hires to buy into the same shared values, so most graduates want to fit in at their new place of work. In a desire to fit in, new recruits may pay lip service to the company values, or at least merely see company values as a tick box exercise.

However, for organisations to attract and retain talent, perhaps that means appealing to the values of talented, not just their skills.

The values and beliefs of the individual are an essential part of the talent which has been recruited. Creativity often flourishes in the spaces around the edge of organisations. Indeed, some of the most creative ideas may come from bending or breaking the established rules. If graduates are assimilated too tightly into the values of the organisation, perhaps there might be less space for rules to be bent in the name of innovation.

Could there be a case for a sharing of values, rather than a one-way transmission between organisation and graduate? If so, how might a sharing approach be facilitated?

Emotional Intelligence in Graduate Programmes

Employing Emotional Intelligence models in development programmes could be the key that unlocks the sharing of values. To move from a transmit-receive model, both graduates and organisations need a viable alternative. Emotional Intelligence may well provide such an alternative. EI models such as EQi 2.0 developed by MHS, feature in many of the graduate development programmes we provide to clients.

By including EI as part of a graduate programme, new recruits are given the space to express and explore their values more fully, in relation to those of the organisation. So not only do graduates become more aware of their drivers and motivators, but also the organisation gets an insight into their new recruits which might otherwise be obscured from view.

So, in summary, what are the implication for traditional graduate programmes for the next cohort of Generation Z graduates?

At a time when competition for graduate talent is likely to increase, perhaps there are advantages for organisations who rethink the transmit-receive approach. Adopting an Emotional Intelligence model can allow more room for the exploration of values, which potentially might result in a more authentic value ‘fit’ between graduate and organisation, which can only be a benefit to both.

For more information on behaviour, values and emotional intelligence as part of developing talent, please visit our website , email us, or call us on 015395 67878