This year, we once again carried out a career survey aimed at university students to find out what are the things that students consider the most important when choosing a job and employer. The survey sample consists of students from 22 universities*.

1. Equality

The realization of equality in working life is still a topical topic of discussion today. Especially pay equality between the genders often comes up as a news topic, and the concepts and pay differences in “female-dominated” and “male-dominated” fields have still not been fully resolved.

According to Statistics Finland’s Labour Force Survey (2019), discrimination or unequal treatment in the workplace occurs e.g. in the attitudes of co-workers and superiors, access to information, gaining appreciation, distribution of work shifts, access to training and salary. Women have reported these forms of discrimination significantly more than men. According to the study, men also have better opportunities for career development than women, and men also act more often as supervisors. In most situations where a woman is a supervisor, she acts as one for another woman.

Pay equality is one of the most debated aspects when talking about equality of working life. Although according to Finnish law, everyone must get equal compensation for the same work requiring the same skills, reality does not always match expectations. The salary level of female-dominated fields, such as nursing, is lower than that of male-dominated fields, such as natural sciences and engineering. This phenomenon is a factor in why, still in 2019, “a woman’s euro” was 84 cents (when the average monthly earnings of Finnish men was 3 838 euros, and 3 229 euros for women). Fortunately, with the family leave reform (August 1, 2022), equality-enhancing changes to working life and salary levels will probably be seen in the next few years.

In addition to gender, the realization of equality can also be influenced by many other factors in working life, e.g. the employee’s ethnicity, age, mother tongue, religion, outlook on life, political or sexual orientation or other background.

An employer who is able to communicate the equality implemented in his company openly and with concrete examples will without exception win the recruitment race for the best talents of the future.

2. Meaningfulness

Every employee of today and the future can interpret the meaning of work in their own way. It often means different things to different people. Someone may find their work meaningful if they get a certain salary for it, while another does not connect the compensation received from the work to the meaning of the work at all, but rather evaluates the social impact of the tasks they do.

As an employer, you can communicate your values and tell your job seekers what things you think are important and what kind of things your company wants to achieve. It is important that the experience of meaning is shared; if the employee does not feel that he is doing meaningful work, the employee’s work motivation or well-being may decrease, and as an employer you will not benefit from the situation either. So, effectively communicate why you do what you do, and you will attract exactly those applicants who share the same experience of meaning with you.

3. Cooperation

Effective cooperation to achieve a common goal makes work more meaningful. Even interesting work can easily become overwhelming if cooperation within the team or between the employee and the supervisor does not work. Cooperation is also done between teams, where a large number of people work with each other.

In order to achieve good cooperation, it is important for employees to be able to work with many different people. Supervisors should consider the best ways to communicate to their subordinates and guide their work. Not everyone works the same way, so managers have a big responsibility to ensure that cooperation between different ways of working, people and teams works well.

Cooperation abilities include, for example, the ability to listen, discuss, trust, ask for help and guidance. It’s good to keep an open mind. As an employer, you can also communicate outside the company how you work and how cooperation is maintained.

4. Honesty

It is extremely important that the employer and the employee are honest with each other. If honesty suffers, it can lead to a lack of trust and, in the worst case, affect the operation of the entire company.

As an employer, you are obliged to honestly tell your employees the things that concern them. The employee should be able to hear in good time about matters related to their employment relationship and contribution. Honesty is also an attribute of equality; when the company acts honestly, it promotes equality for all employees.

If your company offers products, please honestly and truthfully tell us their origin and manufacturing method, so that potential job seekers know in advance about a possible conflict of values when applying. The true nature of the services offered should also be publicly and honestly presented at all times. Honesty (or the lack of it) is indeed an inseparable part of the entire company’s brand and thus employer image.

The importance of honesty is especially emphasized during recruitment. If the job you offer is not a remote job, but you list it in the job advertisement in the hope of a higher number of applications, then you are misleading applicants. Announcing the salary scale in the job advertisement also significantly increases honesty and transparency, which in turn increases trust in the company.

5. Trust

The importance of trust in working life has certainly been emphasized during remote work during and after the pandemic. Supervisors no longer have the same means of work control, and they are similarly unable to monitor the working time or work of their subordinates unless some recording system is in use.

Remote work therefore requires superiors to have trust in their subordinates. Insisting on going back to the office in a situation where remote work would be possible can signal a lack of trust to employees. Similarly, questioning or commenting on sickness absences can affect whether the employee feels that they are trusted.

Trust is also linked to the value of honesty mentioned above. Whereas an employee can enjoy the trust of his superior, it is of primary importance that the employee also trusts his superior and the rest of the team. Trust can suffer badly if the work atmosphere is dishonest or information is withheld from employees. It is also essential that the supervisors do not share their employee’s personal information with others at the workplace. Mutual trust in the workplace is vital for a functioning working community.

During the application process, the applicant must be able to trust what, for example, is stated in the job advertisement about the job or the job description. The verbal contract must also be reliable, and the salary or other details of the employment contract cannot change from what was agreed in advance between the employer and the job seeker. So, always be honest during recruitment and worthy of the applicant’s trust.

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In addition to these five, the students also listed the following as important values of working life: Responsibility, Fairness, Openness, Work-leisure balance, Respect, Self-development, Appreciation, Flexibility, Friendliness and Freedom. The more of these values are realized in your company, the better prospects you have for recruiting top professionals and the best workers of the future.

In the future, we will share more information about what university students value in working life.

*Tuudo’s survey was organized 24.5.-9.6.2022 and a total of 5,022 people answered it.

Employer, this is how you can prepare for a job interview!