Truths about what today’s young workers want


What do today’s young workers want, what is most important to them, what are their ambitions, and how loyal are they? Just some of the pressing questions answered in new research from Ashridge Business School undertaken on behalf of the MSLGROUP for its report, The Millennial Compass. The report was important to understand more about this sector – known either as Millennials, Generation Y or simply under 30s – because they are the ones that will be the leaders and managers of tomorrow and will map the future success of businesses and organisations around the globe.

The research discloses startling results and it follows previous studies on young workers conducted by researchers Carina Paine Schofield and Sue Honoré. It also identifies trends that have emerged with many of them now having been working for 10 years or more.

Millennials are focused on achieving through personal networks and technology, having a good work-life balance and getting high levels of support from their managers. They don’t want to be tied to an organization, a timetable or a hierarchy, and they’d rather avoid the stress they see their senior leaders shouldering. They may lack some of their predecessors’ relationship, communication and analysis skills, but they’re confident in their abilities to run business in a new way.

The Millennial Compass also reveals how common these trends are – or aren’t – around the world. Does a 25-year-old working for a company in Beijing feel the same way about work as his or her counterpart in London, Sao Paulo or Atlanta? The research identifies which traits can indeed be considered universal and which ones vary with geography, politics and economic factors.

A total of 1,293 Millennial employees from Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA responded to the survey. The study found that what’s important to them in their working lives varies somewhat by country, but several key findings emerged.

The Ambition to Move Up
Millennials are often cited as demanding work-life balance, which for them means working to live versus living to work, as the previous two generations were raised to do. Even so, the majority of Millennials surveyed in all countries describe themselves as more ambitious than not.

Goodbye, Loyalty
Loyalty doesn’t appear to be a particularly strong work value for Millennials. On average, 30% of those surveyed worldwide intend to leave their organizations in the next year. Nearly half say they plan to depart after two years, leaving only 57% still working for the organizations they’re with today.

The Impact on International Business
While they have a strong desire for work-life balance, Millennials seem to be closer to their immediate families and friends than ever before. Even though they travel virtually in and out of their comfort zones all the time, they’re less eager to make a physical move. These trends could impact the future of international business as well as Millennials themselves who may miss key career opportunities.
Millennials See the Boss as a Friend

Perceptions of their relationship with the boss are fascinating. When asked about the role their manager currently plays, most survey respondents chose, “friend.” This answer ranked first in the USA, the UK and Brazil; second in China and third in India. In France, Millennials see their boss as a peer.

Millennials with Younger Bosses Feel More Engaged
Does youth motivate youth? Our research says yes. Millennials with younger (Gen X and Millennial) managers believe their skills are better utilized than those whose managers are from the Baby Boom generation.
To demonstrate this point, Millennials in India are way ahead of other countries in believing their organization harnesses their talents (75% agree). China is second at 63%. Correspondingly, Millennials in these countries have the highest percentage of young managers.

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