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What do graduates want? Mentorship and a healthy work-life balance

Research commissioned by Jameson found 58 per cent of Gen Z and millennials prioritise work-life balance over starting salary

Younger workers are more interested in work-life balance and personal development than what they receive in starting salary. Those two factors are also considered more important than flexible annual leave options and remote working entitlements. These are among the key findings of recently conducted research commissioned by the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme.

The research found that among both Generation Z – broadly, anyone born between the late 1990s and early 2010s – and millennials – that is, those in the previous demographic cohort, born roughly from the early 80s to the late 90s – a healthy work-life balance is the primary consideration when seeking a job, with 58 per cent citing this as opposed to 48 per cent prioritising starting salary.

It also ranked higher than features including flexible annual leave options (44 per cent), hybrid working (26 per cent) and fully remote working (22 per cent).

The research, carried out by Amárach Research among around 600 21-42-year-olds, also highlights that newer generations entering the workplace strongly value personal development opportunities.


More than half of respondents believe both personal and professional development opportunities are equally important in the workplace, while a fifth (21 per cent) believe personal development is more important to their career. Mental health supports are ranked as the most important personal development support in the workplace for both Gen Z (51 per cent) and millennials (56 per cent).

The research also found that Gen Z workers can be conflicted between focusing on their careers and pursuing travel opportunities. For just over half of respondents, progressing a career in Ireland is the current priority but one in five plan to advance their career abroad while around a quarter intend to take time out to travel.

Unsurprisingly, career progression is an important consideration for young workers considering their options. According to the research, in the 21-28-year-old age bracket, four in 10 rate career advancement as an important factor when looking for a job.

The Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme has been recruiting and training graduates for more than 30 years and has been recognised as the number one FMCG Graduate Employer in Ireland by GradIreland since 2014.

Jameson brand ambassadors have the opportunity to work in more than 35 international markets, including India, Korea, China, and Japan. The company says they have played a critical role in the growth of Irish whiskey on the world stage over the past 30 years and many have remained within the wider network, with some programme alumni progressing into leadership positions within Irish Distillers domestically and Pernod Ricard globally.

For those more focused on progressing their career in Ireland, the Irish Distillers Early Careers Programmes offer domestic roles across a range of disciplines.

The role of a Jameson brand ambassador in Irish Distillers is not a typical nine-to-five, as they are given the freedom and flexibility to shape their own work schedule and encouraged to carve out space for their physical and mental health. Irish Distillers’ Thrive Wellbeing programme offers employees access to a 24/7 mental health team, mental health coaching, open ended therapy, a digital gym and more.

Sinéad D’Arcy, head of the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme, says the secret to its success has been its ability to adapt to the evolving needs and expectations of applicants.

“The programme has witnessed many changes over its 30-plus years, from pioneering video applications so candidates could showcase their true selves to breaking down barriers by adapting a skills-first hiring approach which focuses on candidates’ attitude and aptitude over their degree discipline,” she says.

With changing work environments, mentorship is becoming ever more important. A third of those surveyed said they had benefited from a mentoring or ‘buddy’ system in their workplace, with that figure rising to 48 per cent for those in hybrid roles.

“This culture of mentorship and support has become part of the fabric of the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme. At Irish Distillers, our focus is on supporting and empowering young professionals to become their best self,” says D’Arcy. “This focus on personal development results in them thriving professionally.”

This year, Irish Distillers has changed the name of the programme from the Jameson International Graduate Programme to the Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme, reflecting the fact that it is not just open to current graduates but to anyone with a university degree in the early stages of their career.

  • The Jameson International Brand Ambassador Programme is now accepting applicants for 2024/2025 and is looking for creative, innovative self-starters with an entrepreneurial mindset to become the next generation of Jameson brand ambassadors. The deadline for applications is 1pm on February 14th, 2024. Visit www.jamesongraduateprogramme.com for more information.