Bentley’s Big Idea Cultivating wellbeing and engagement in our future business leaders By Gloria Larson, Esq.
IN higher education, the proficient in applying knowl- proper level of support and
term “readiness” has traditionally been associated with attaining an appropriate level of skill within a certain discipline. As a corporate buzz word, readiness is now a euphemism for “making it in the real world” which, as the research shows, can mean everything from technical proficiency to cultural competency to communicating well with your colleagues.
At Bentley University, our interpretation of readiness has increasingly leaned toward the development of our students’ wellness and well-being. As a business school, our thinking is formed by the proven correlation of well-being to employee engagement, the types of strengths employers are seeking, and what “success” means to our students and alumni. According to an Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) study, which surveyed over 400 private and non-profit organizations, fewer than three in 10 think that recent college graduates are
edge and skills in real-world settings or areas such as critical thinking and communication. Another recent study by PayScale found that skills such as communication, leadership, ownership, and teamwork were lacking in newly graduated job seekers.
Today’s organizations are less hierarchical and more reliant on teams. Collaboration and joint problem solving are valued competencies. Other evidence suggests that these “softer skills,” including empathy for people of different backgrounds and ties to your community, are also what make graduates more productive workers. The 2014 Gallup-Purdue Index, which surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. college graduates, found that those who were emotionally supported during college, and who had experiential and deep learning, were more likely to report higher levels of longterm well-being. A college program that is designed to give students the
learning leads graduates to engaging jobs after graduation. Gallup’s research over 30 years has found that those with high levels of engagement at work after college — meaning they are intellectually and emotionally connected with their organizations and work teams — will in turn report high levels of well-being, putting them on track for a rewarding career and life. Gallup gauges well-being through five key elements: a sense of purpose, social connections, community engagement, financial security, and physical health. Bentley commissioned a Gallup study of our alumni the same year the Gallup-Purdue Index was released, giving us tremendous insight into how our alumni faired among these dimensions against the national average. The results were exciting: Bentley alumni averaged 5.4 percentage points above the national average on each of the five well-being elements, and the number of Bentley
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