The next generation of employees thinks the most important factor when deciding where to work is not a good health and benefits plan or a good starting salary, but the opportunity for advancement, says a study.

In the study—entitled The next generation at work – business students’ views, values and job search strategy–business students across Canada were asked to assess the importance of 14 items pertaining to their desired job and organizational attributes, using a five-point scale.

“Contrary to popular belief, students did not rank compensation as the most important factor when accepting their first jobs,” says assistant professor Ed Ng, business administration program at Trent University, who conducted the study—which was co-authored by professor Ronald Burke of the Schulich School of Business, York University. “In fact, it was ranked in sixth place.”

The study also found that coop students were more concerned with the people and work dimensions of a firm, and less on a firm’s reputation and benefits.

Desired job characteristics

Rank Characteristic
1. Opportunities for advancement
2. Good training opportunities, developing new skills
3. Good people to work with
4. Good people to report to
5. Challenging work
6. Good initial salary
7. Work-life balance
8. Job security
9. Opportunities to have a personal impact
10. Good health and benefits plan
11. Organization is a leader in its field
12. Commitment to diversity
13. Commitment to social responsibility
14. Opportunity to travel

Students with higher grade point averages reported similar preferences to those of coop students. And they rated work as an important attribute, while those with lower grades indicated a firm’s reputation and benefits as being important.

For more about what the next generation of workers would like from their employers, check out the June issue of Benefits Canada. To read it, click here.

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