What do Millennials want from work?

by | Feb 22, 2015 | Blog

New research highlights misunderstanding of Gen Y

Leading a team is not a long-term ambition for Generation Y, says new research.  For the generation born from the early 1980s and also known as ‘Millennials’, becoming a leader doesn’t hold much appeal. However there is a mismatch between what these younger workers actually want, and what employers think they do. While there is a widespread belief that having lots of different jobs in different sectors is one of the most important desires for this generation, Gen Y employees’ career ambitions are actually to ‘earn a great salary’, ‘be totally fulfilled and happy in my work’ and ‘to achieve a great work/life balance’.

Additional research from Deloitte finds that 79% of UK Millennials do not feel that their current organisations are making full use of the skills they have to offer, and 43% believe they will have to work elsewhere in order to gain the skills and experience they need to fully meet their career ambitions. The research also finds that British Millennials are more cynical about business than their global peers. Only 39% of UK respondents agree businesses have a positive impact on society, compared to 52% worldwide.

A new US survey from Aon Hewitt backs up Deloitte’s findings and shows that 43% of Millennials intend to switch jobs in 2015. The Inside the Employee Mindset report highlights Millennials’ concern that what they value in an organisation is different to what their employers value. Most Gen Y employees seek relationship-oriented values such as better work/life balance, employee recognition, loyalty and respect. However most believe that their employers are more concerned with organisational-oriented themes such as teamwork, profit and customer satisfaction.

And what about Generation Z, the group of even younger people following Generation Y? Global research from Randstad and Millennial Branding reveals Gen Z is more entrepreneurial, less motivated by money and more focused on face-to-face communication than Gen Y. Despite growing up with technology, the majority actually prefer face-to-face communication over tools like instant messaging and video conferencing. They also appear to be more realistic than optimistic having grown up during recession, so they will come to the workplace better prepared, less entitled and more equipped to succeed.

As we increasingly separate different generations along narrower age bands, leaders need to learn how to juggle the preferences of four or five distinct generations working side by side in the workplace. And what do younger employees want from leaders? Over half of both Gen Z and Gen Y state that honesty is the most important quality for being a good leader. Next to that, they value ‘a solid vision’ and good communication skills – all factors that can help leaders connect effectively to diverse groups of employees.

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