Are graduates becoming more settled in jobs?

Jun 26, 2024 | Attraction & marketing, Home Featured, Research

A new survey reveals the propensity of young people to quit their jobs, explains Chris Rea from Prospects at Jisc.

ISE’s Student Development Survey showed that more employers are finding that their entry-level staff are leaving jobs over pay. So, what is the graduate perspective – are more considering quitting, what are the key drivers and what might make them stay?

Prospects Early Careers Survey 2024 charts the career plans, expectations and experiences of more than 6,000 students and graduates over the last 12 months. The annual survey provides insight into how their views are changing over time.

Moving jobs

This year, 28% of respondents said they were considering leaving their employer, and another 32% were unsure of their next move.

These are similar figures to last year, but we can see some interesting shifts at play among those early on in their careers.

A fifth of 2023 graduates were already planning to switch employers in 2024. In last year’s survey 34% of recent graduates planned to leave their employer, and the year before the number was as high as 40%.

This may indicate that graduates are becoming more settled and content in their jobs. Perhaps job security is a large driver at the moment – money came out as the single biggest challenge this year.

Expectation of ‘normal’

The position has improved on retention and while there’s seemingly a general sort of settling among graduates, it depends where you set the threshold of what can be expected in terms of ‘normal’ movement.

These are young graduates, who have very recently been through the excitement and drama of the recruitment process, the culmination of all their work, study and employability preparation. They’re in their first job, on the threshold of their careers. And still around a fifth of them are thinking of moving on very, very quickly.

These figures perhaps reflect the natural fluidity that we know, expect and believe about people in work generally, of which the early careers community is no exception. By digging deeper into our findings we can find insights into why and how they might be retained.

What might help retention?

When asked why graduates want to leave their employers, the top three reasons were to advance their career, start a different career and earn a higher salary.

In reality decision making is unlikely to be black and white. While career development and salary motivators will always be dominant, personal factors such as relocation for family reasons or a change of heart about the kind of work an individual wants to do will also some into play.

We can’t always influence decision making, but the data shows us some areas that might help retention.

It’s striking that 62% of those intending to leave their job were attending the physical workplace. that the majority of these individuals (68%) cited an improved work/life balance as their reason for leaving, this is a big argument in favour of the provision of hybrid work.

Twenty-eight per cent of those intending to leave their employer were hybrid workers and 10% worked remotely, suggesting respondents are happy with this working arrangement.

Offering flexible working arrangements is clearly vital if you want to hold on to early talent. Making sure that this is understood by staff is just as important – the survey found the majority of graduates prefer hybrid work but feel ‘return to office’ pressure.

It’s important that companies are crystal clear about working practice policies. Graduates may feel under pressure to return to the office but is this really what the company wants? Graduates might not always be confident enough to ask for flexible arrangements and may mistake a residual culture in favour presenteeism for a company policy.

Providing clear pathways for progression and development are also important so that people understand where the opportunities may or may not be.

With money such a dominating factor, competitive and transparent salaries are necessary as well as other benefits that may help people adjust and adapt to work.

All of these are factors are constantly being worked on and flexed by employers, yet the question always remains – why can’t a graduate develop in their first company?

Graduates may be driven to feel that a place isn’t for them, but sometimes that judgment can be premature. They might be able to adjust to a different way of thinking over time. Perhaps the question should be, is there anything that we could do that would make you happier at work?

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What are the career challenges and expectations of female STEM graduates?

Rise in graduates feeling disadvantaged in job applications

What are students and graduates thinking right now?


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