Part 3 of 6: Blog Series on What Millennials Want from Work, Charted Across the World – Support Them but Don’t Tell Them What to Do

This is the third of a six-part blog series to be posted monthly, on Millennials at the Workplace — a joint study by the Emerging Markets Institute, HEAD Foundation, and UNIVERSUM.

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Millennials have grown up with the Internet and on-demand access to information. They are the first generation to come of age using social media. It’s clear based on how Millennials make connections and share information online, they are simply wired to communicate differently than those who preceded them.

We found out:

1. How to reach and influence younger Millennials

For all the focus on digital and social media, our research shows Millennials crave something more. In a study conducted earlier this year, we asked university-aged Millennials (i.e. those who have not yet entered the workforce) where they currently access information, and how they would prefer to get information about employers. (Universum Global Communicating with Talent Survey, 2014.) University students told us the channels they most often use are the employer website (55 percent), career fairs (44 percent) and social networks (42 percent). However, when asked not for actual channels but preferred channels for information, it’s clear that another myth may be busted. Many Millennials don’t crave more social content – but rather face-to-face interactions on campus. The top two preferred channels for information about a potential employer are employer presentations on campus (41 percent), and career fairs (39 percent). FIGURE 1

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We also asked university-aged Millennials which sources of information are most influential. The top pick: getting information from others they know who work or have worked for that particular employer (49 percent). And at the near-bottom of the list: friends, parents and classmates. FIGURE 2

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The degree to which social media figures prominently as a source of information varies by country/region. Millennials from China, France and Switzerland for example are not as enthusiastic about using social networks as their peers from other countries. On average only 23% of Millennials in these countries prefer to use social networks when learning more about employers compared to 42 % globally.

2. Investigating the role of parents in Millennials’ work lives

Our research simply does not support the idea that parents have an outsized influence on Millennials’ work lives. FIGURE 3

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Yet when asked whether family is a support mechanism, the answers were more parent-friendly. Overall 64 percent say family is a key support to respondents’ career aspirations, and 31 percent strongly agree with the statement. In Latin America this is particularly true (71 percent agree or strongly agree) and it’s least true in Central and Eastern Europe (44 percent agree or strongly agree). FIGURE 4

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3. Other sources of influence for Millennials

With regards to friends influencing professional decisions, Millennials’ answers vary widely. Overall only 16 percent say friends have a strong influence on career decisions. FIGURE 5

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Looking at influence more generally, Millennials think very differently about the relative power of institutions versus individuals to influence society. In the AsianPacific region, for example, more than half say government has the strongest ability to influence society of the choices given, while those in North America ranked government as least influential (18 percent). Millennials in the Middle East, Western Europe and North America view private business as the dominant force, those in Latin America and Central/Eastern Europe say individuals have the strongest influence. FIGURE 6

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Implications for Employers

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In our first eBook, entitled Understanding a Misunderstood Generation, we reviewed a string of stereotypes long imposed on the Millennial generation. These included: • Millennials are interested in leadership positions and expect to advance rapidly in their careers. • Millennials care more about personal development and work-life balance than traditional trappings of success, such as money and status. • And the long-favourite: Millennials (over)-rely on friends and family for input on career issues.

Through our research, we wanted to test (a) whether statements such as these hold up to testing and (b) to what extent these ideas hold true across different regions of the globe. Not surprisingly, we found that while certain ideas do indeed tend to be true across regions (e.g. a desire to attain a leadership role), there is a tremendous degree of variability region-by-region, and country-by-country. Millennials feelings about the role of family and friends in their careers, and their belief in government and/ or private institutions to influence change, is no different.

For employers, the findings should awaken their thinking about how to recruit, onboard, and retain Millennials across different regions. What inspires (and worries) a Millennial in North America is quite different from that which inspires those in the APAC countries.

• Will employers continue to involve parents if so few Millennials say parents have a strong influence (and in some regions, such as Central and Eastern Europe, Millennials seem particularly opposed to it).

• How can employers’ branding support Millennials’ optimism in the Middle East, North America and Western Europe for the private sector’s ability to effect change?

For employers, it’s critical to identify the areas of talent management that are most affected by these differences. For example, in Africa nearly a third strongly agree that parents are very much involved in career decisions, while in North America only five percent say this is true; career fairs should absolutely account for these differences region-by-region. And recruiters in Central and Eastern Europe, for example, should note Millennials’ modest enthusiasm for working on teams. Ultimately talent management leaders need to ensure their Millennial-targeted strategies are based on robust country-level research and the preferences of professional cohorts (e.g. understanding how 20-something engineers in Italy prefer to work), rather than perceived attitudes and unfair stereotypes applied to Millennials as a whole. Finally, employers should ensure their HR organisations understand Millennials are a diverse group, a generation quite unlike the stereotypes we’ve been taught to believe over the last decade.

To join the conversation, follow us on Twitter at @INSEAD_EMI.


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