April 2015

For the most part, Millennials want the same things as other employees

Employers have some mostly fictitious beliefs about younger workers (age 21 to 34) that a new IBM study has recently debunked.
 
For example, you’ve probably read that Millennials are more likely to quit a job that doesn’t fulfill their passions, or that they have different career goals and expectations than older workers, or that they want constant acclaim for their work.
 
The study concludes that most of those assertions are false. For the most part, millennials have the same attitudes about their careers, employee engagement, leadership styles, and recognition as their Generation X (age 35 to 49) and Baby Boomer (age 50 to 60) counterparts. The one distinction between Millennials and others is their digital proficiency.
 
IBM did the study because Millennials will make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020. “Our clients are interested in what they need to do to attract and retain Millennials, and since there was so much buzz about what Millennials want or don’t want in the workplace, we decided it was time to do our own primary research,” said Carolyn Baird, the IBM Institute’s global research leader.
 
The study busted five common myths:
  • Millennials’ career goals and expectations aren’t significantly different than older workers’. They desire financial security and seniority as much as older workers.
  • Millennials do not want constant acclaim or a boss who solicits their views. They want a manager who is ethical, fair, and values transparency and dependability. Gen Xers are just as likely to want a pat on the back, and Baby Boomers are more likely to want a boss who solicits their views.
  • Millennials are not digital addicts who want to do and share everything online, with no sense of boundaries. The report notes that Millennials are adept at online interaction but do set limits on what they will share. They prefer training that involves personal interaction.
  • Millennials aren’t indecisive. They are no more likely than their older counterparts to solicit advice at work, but more than half say they make better decisions when a variety of people weigh in.
  • Millennials tend to change jobs for the same reasons Gen Xers and Baby Boomers do: to move up in their careers or to follow their aspirations. Millennials care as much as older workers about getting ahead.
The study recommends that employers that want to hire and retain Millennials and older workers focus on their employees as individuals and foster a collaborative culture to encourage the contribution of new ideas.
 
IBM conducted the survey of nearly 1,800 employees of various generations from organizations of all sizes across 12 countries and compared the preferences of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers.