9th September 2008

Employers battling a skills shortage need better strategies other than big salaries to attract and retain young graduates or risk losing them altogether, says a QUT researcher.

Sarah Bankins, a PhD student from the School of Management, said big salaries alone were not enough to lure graduates who instead wanted guidance, feedback and leadership from their managers.

Ms Bankins is undertaking a study to understand the expectations of newly minted graduates as well as their employers and the way those expectations change over time.

"In general there seems to be misconceptions about what employers think young graduates who are entering the workplace expect, '' Ms Bankins said.

"A classic stereotype is that graduates come in expecting the world.

"My research is about better understanding these expectations to help organisations best manage them.

"While it's true many graduates are ambitious, they are also realistic about the steps they need to take to move upwards or sideways in the organisation and are seeking guidance on what they need to do to achieve this.

"The majority of graduates I spoke with had just started their role and were prepared to do the hard yards and start from scratch.''

As part of her study, Ms Bankins will survey 400 graduates as well as managers from 12 small-to-medium sized organisations from industries such as finance, accounting, law and engineering.

She said many of today's managers were also seeking guidance from graduates about their expectations, as they sought to manage intergenerational changes in the workplace.

"In 2008, a typical workplace can have four generations all trying to work together - Gen Ys (born 1979-1994), Gen X (born 1965-1977) Baby Boomers and Elders, also known as Veterans (who are aged in their 60s or 70s and are approaching retirement), '' she said

"This has wide implications for managers, as they attempt to strike a balance between these various groups, understand their needs and deal with conflicts that arise.

"If organisations fail to address this issue, they will end up with a disgruntled workplace and ultimately find it harder to retain younger people coming through.

"It is therefore imperative that both managers and graduates have an understanding of each other and what each of them expects from the relationship.

"In the end the role of managers is crucial. Although expectations can be set, it is the manager who must understand them and follow through,'' Ms Bankins said.

Media contact: Amanda Vine, media officer. 07 3138 2130. amanda.vine@qut.edu.au.
****High resolution image of Sarah Bankins available for media use****

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