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World’s Most Attractive Employers 2022: Key Trends and Findings   

By Universum on 01/11/2022

Research from Universum reveals the motivations of university graduates as they enter the global workforce

Universum has just released its 14th annual World’s Most Attractive Employers report and rankings. This year we surveyed over 185,000 business, engineering and IT students in the world’s 9 largest economies (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the UK and the US). We asked this group of future talent to provide insights on the company characteristics they find most attractive in a potential employer, as well as who they perceive to be their ideal employer.  

Our 2022 report dives into the latest global Employer Branding strategies that are currently resonating with the upcoming workforces. It includes preferences and comparisons from talent across the globe. Among the responses, several key findings were discovered that employers must take into consideration in the year to come. By following and understanding these key findings, employers can ensure they are attractive and able to successfully recruit and retain top talent for their organization. 

What are the key trends and findings of 2022? 

It may be time to re-evaluate the employment deal 

Given record talent shortages in most markets, hiring has been very candidate-driven over the last 12 months (with higher expectations for pay, benefits, and quality of life among young talent). Now most regions face significant economic headwinds and employers are pulling back on hiring. Will companies regain more control in the employer-employee relationship? At the very least, it may be time for employers to re-evaluate the “give and get” deal at the heart of their companies’ Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) and recruitment marketing.

Young people are highly focused on compensation 

Across business, engineering, and IT student groups, young people put a major emphasis on compensation when choosing their ideal employers. “Competitive salaries” and “high future earnings” make up two of students’ top-three priorities, and both were among the fastest-growing priorities across all variables. Given the friction between high inflation and cooling economic growth, employers will need to rethink starting salaries for recent graduates, balancing students’ high expectations against protecting the bottom line. 

The demand for work-life balance and flexible working accelerates

From a list of 40 attributes, “work-life balance” rose 6 places to rank as #8 most important in 2022, and “flexible working conditions” rose 7 places, landing at #10. This rise was particularly evident among engineering and IT students. The key question: Can employers deliver on the quality-of-life benefits young people have come to expect, even while there is growing pressure to do more with less? 

Students’ performance expectations fall short of what may be required

When asked to rank their top priorities in a future employer, young people were significantly less likely to choose “challenging work” in 2022. This attribute registered the largest one-year drop of any priority in 2022. And may be yet another sign of a growing mismatch between student expectations and the demanding economic environment most companies will need to navigate in the coming year. 

Student career preferences are increasingly polarized

This year, two career types — “Balance-Seekers” and “Go-Getters,” which are opposite extremes of the high-performance mindset — are both growing in size (download the WMAE report to read more about the Career types). Should companies continue to stress the inclusive, “come as you are, do what you love” positioning (i.e., Balance-Seekers) to win new talent, or switch to a more realistic performance-driven positioning given the economic downturn? 

Top-ranked companies are most associated with high performance

Among the top 10 ranked employers within the three key target groups covered in our study (business, engineering, and IT students): “high performance,” “recruiting the best talent,” and “challenging work” stood out as leading differentiators compared with the rest of the WMAEs. In other words, students express a high level of preference for employers known to be performance-oriented. 

It’s important to balance global positioning with local messaging

While the above findings have implications for companies’ overall employer brand positioning, it’s still critical to understand attraction drivers at the local level. The relative importance of key attributes varies significantly by country and target group. For example, among IT students, flexible working conditions rank as a #4 priority in the US, but #28 in China. Global companies must weigh these differences and flex their EVPs and recruitment messaging to match local preferences. 

Why should one follow the World’s Most Attractive Employers? 

By following the World’s Most Attractive Employers, we can analyze the desires of talent to learn how those desires align with the perception of the companies themselves. Understanding the motivations of candidates will help you be better prepared to attract, recruit, and retain talent. Download the World’s Most Attractive Employers 2022 eBook today to learn more about the above key findings and how you can utilize the trends and stay in front of the challenges prevailing in the year to come.