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2023 Graduates’ Workplace Priorities

June 30, 2023 | Economic Development & Workforce

Recent graduate Madeline Ward, from the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, has experienced a profound shift in her workplace priorities, mirroring the sentiments of other graduates in similar circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a significant role in shaping their perspectives, with Madeline closely observing how this global crisis has transformed the world of work. As a result, she now places immense importance on factors such as work-life balance and employee well-being.

“The pandemic has shown me the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life,” said Madeline. “I want to work for a company that understands the need for flexibility and supports my overall well-being.”

According to a recent survey issued by Randstad, Madeline’s perspectives on company culture aligns with what many recent graduates are looking for in their “perfect” workplace. The new workforce wants to work in collaborative and supportive environments where they feel valued and encouraged to grow both personally and professionally. Diversity and inclusion play a significant role as graduates seek out companies committed to creating an equitable workplace for all employees.

“A positive work culture that fosters excitement and a sense of belonging is essential to me,” shares Madeline. “I want to be part of a team that values collaboration and supports my personal and professional development. It’s crucial for me to work in an environment where my contributions are recognized and appreciated.”

In addition to a positive work culture, growth and development opportunities are topping the list of considerations for new grads. They desire an employer who provides clear career paths, mentorship programs, and the chance to work on innovative and cutting-edge projects. “I’m eager to continue learning and growing in my career,” she shares. “Having access to mentorship and opportunities to work on exciting projects will allow me to gain valuable skills and make a meaningful impact.”

Jason Napoli, Director, Employer Relations & Career Coaching at Cornell College, works a lot with soon-to-be graduates, and he thinks employers should focus more on growth and development opportunities. “Recent graduates want to make an impact and grow within their organization,” said Napoli. “Money is another factor that still pays a key role as well. They want to be paid for the work they do and the value they bring to the company.”

While compensation and benefits hold their place in graduates’ considerations, Madeline mentioned particularly focused on competitive packages that include comprehensive health insurance, retirement plans, and generous paid time off. She thinks it is important to have a well-rounded benefits package that supports her overall well-being and work-life balance.

“I am driven by a desire to work for socially responsible employers who make a positive impact on the world. I want to work for a company that demonstrate a commitment to charitable giving, volunteer work and sustainable business practices,” said Madeline. “I want to align myself with an organization whose values align with my own. Working for a socially responsible company will not only give me a sense of purpose but also allow me to contribute to creating a better world.”

As your organization seeks to attract the best and brightest young talent, consider prioritizing these factors to have a competitive edge. If you are a Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance member, you have access to the workforce attraction tool, the Talent Hub. This tool can help create a customized workforce pipeline for your organizations.

For additional resources and questions regarding workforce, please reach out to Laura Seyfer, workforce specialist with the Economic Alliance, at