Part 6 of 6: Our evolution… How experience changes millennials

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

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We found out:

1. Differences by age

Millennials are significantly more likely to think challenging work takes them outside of their comfort zone (overall 25 percent of Millennials cited it, but ten percent more younger Millennials answered this way compared to their older peers). FIGURE 1

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When asked about their fears, Millennials, as we have learned before, fear getting stuck with no development opportunities (40 percent), not realizing their career goals (32 percent), or not getting a job that matches their personality (32 percent). The largest point of difference between younger and older Millennials relates to fearing they will underperform at work. Overall 22 percent fear underperforming at work, but eight percent more younger Millennials feel this way than older Millennials. FIGURE 2

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A plausible explanation could be that younger Millennials, especially in Europe, may have been more exposed to the active discussions around pension and ageing population challenges than older Millennials. Moreover, younger Millennials may be more attuned to making their careers a life choice – more than just a means to an end – and do not see the need for early retirement. Yet understanding the difference in views of retirement, aside from the above mentioned, may certainly be explained by other factors. FIGURE 3

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Regarding leadership both younger and older Millennials are equally ambitious, but have different motivations. On average 41 percent think it’s very important they become a manager/leader during their careers. Asked what is attractive about such a role, Millennials point to earnings (35 percent), opportunities to influence the organization (31 percent) and working with strategic challenges (31 percent). One point of difference between older and younger cohorts relates to the relevance of mentoring and coaching: While overall 22 percent see this as an attractive benefit of leadership, younger Millennials chose this 6 percent more often than older Millennials. FIGURE 4

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Older Millennials were significantly more likely to value a fast-track career with constant promotions. Seven percent more strongly agreed with the statement—an interesting finding when paired with the earlier finding that shows older Millennials are less likely to want to work longer days to speed progress compared to younger Millennials. FIGURE 5 / FIGURE 6

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Perhaps contrary to stereotype, younger Millennials are much less likely to be influenced by their friends in their career decisions (overall 43 percent say they are not very influenced by friends, but 13 percent more younger Millennials report this). Younger Millennials also feel less strongly about wanting to work with friends, so much so that it’s possibly they prefer not working with friends; 10 percent more younger Millennials disagreed with the statement, “I want to work where my friends work.” FIGURE 7 / FIGURE 8

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of the government than do older Millennials (a 16 percent difference). Younger Millennials are more likely to believe in the primacy of individual influence (11 percent more younger than older Millennials cite it) and the private sector (6 percent more younger than older Millennials cite it). FIGURE 9

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Younger Millennials feel the pressure of a difficult job market and are more open to keeping a job even if they don’t like it (as 7 percent more of them are inclined to disagree with the statement “I rather have no job than a job I hate”). They are also less likely to want to quit their job over a perceived lack of organizational innovation (13 percent fewer young Millennials say they would quit a job over lack of organizational innovation). FIGURE 10 / FIGURE 11

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When asked to choose between a high salary and job security, older Millennials were five percent more likely to choose a high salary over job security. We also asked Millennials to choose between a company’s people and culture versus opportunity for higher pay and advancement in a future employer. The difference here was even greater. Younger Millennials were seven percent more likely to value people and culture in a future employer than older Millenials, who more often chose remuneration and advancement. For both questions, keep in mind, Millennials, on average, were more or less split between both options. FIGURE 12 / FIGURE 13

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We asked Millennials to think about their priorities, and how they plan to balance their personal and professional lives. The differences between older and younger Millennials were somewhat unexpected. Younger Millennials were much more likely to prioritize careers (7 percent more younger Millennials chose that option). Older Millenials were seven percent more likely to want time for hobbies, while younger Millennials were seven percent more likely to want to work for the betterment of society. Still, the most common responses across all respondents were to spend time with family (58 percent) and to grown and learn new things (45 percent). FIGURE 14

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Overall 64 percent of Millennials want to work at an organization with friendly people, and nearly half want an employer that matches their own views regarding equality and diversity. Younger Millennials were slightly more likely to want an employer with friendly people (4 percent more chose it). A larger gap between young and old related to brand image. Across all Millennials, 37 percent were concerned with brand image, but eight percent more older Millennials care about brand image. This finding is particularly germane for employers when recruiting more established Millennials versus their younger counterparts. FIGURE 15

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2. Differences according to gender

How different are female and male Millennials in reality? Let’s have a closer look. In general Millennials tend to be concerned about recognition in the form of titles; 55 percent say titles matter, though women are less likely to think this. FIGURE 16

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We asked Millennials whether they feel they will enjoy a higher standard of living in their lifetime than their parents did. Men were more optimistic and more likely to believe this is so. Overall 39 percent strongly agree they will be better off than their parents, but men were five percent more likely to answer this way. We also asked about expected retirement age. A surprisingly high number of Millennials think they will retire at 60 or sooner (45 percent) but women were much more likely to answer this way. Seven percent more women than men expect to retire by 60 years old, which might also relate to different retirement rules for men and women in some countries. FIGURE 17 / FIGURE 18

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Becoming a leader is less important to female respondents, an interesting finding when paired with the idea that women are much more likely to associate leadership with significant added stress. Overall 41 percent say attaining a leadership position is “very important” but men were seven percent more likely to choose it. Nearly 50 percent cite stress as an unattractive side effect of leadership, but 16 percent more women thought this was true. Women were also more likely to point to a lack of work-life balance as a negative aspect of leadership. FIGURE 19 / FIGURE 20

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In an important finding for employers, men and women have different ideas about what constitutes an ideal manager/ leader—though no one trait dominated the list for neither men nor women. Overall approximately 30 percent of all Millennials chose a manager who empowers employees, someone who’s a technical or functional expert, or someone who sets transparent performance criteria and evaluates them effectively. Women, however, were more likely to choose the fair and impartial manager (one who is transparent about performance criteria) and a manager who’s a good role model. FIGURE 21

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Countries, like Sweden, where couples often take equally long parental leaves, are still few and far between. So it’s not surprising that women are much more likely than men to care about the employer’s stance on parental leave. Overall, however, we found men and women have very similar attitudes about work-life balance. The top choices cited by both men and women (with little difference between genders) were having leisure time for private life (57 percent), enjoying flexible hours (45 percent) and getting recognition and respect at work (45 percent). FIGURE 22

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We asked men and women about their greatest fears related to work. Women were much more likely to worry their jobs would not match their personalities, and not surprisingly, they also worried they would not get the chance they may deserve on account of gender. FIGURE 23

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Overall women are significantly less likely to consider themselves entrepreneurial than men. Half of all Millennials say they are  entrepreneurial, but men are 10 percent more likely to say so than women. FIGURE 24

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Women’s life priorities are also very different from men’s. While spending time with family and learning new things are important to both, women were seven percent more likely to choose those two answers than men. Men on the other hand were more likely than women to say they valued having many good friends and achieving wealth. FIGURE 25

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.59.05 amOn average both male and female Millennials value work-life balance over a high salary (73 percent choose balance) but women are slightly more likely to choose work-life balance. Women are also more likely to choose job security than men; while on average Millennials are evenly split between the choice of a high salary and secure employment, women are seven percent more likely to choose security than men. FIGURE 26

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When asked about an employer’s culture and how it should match their own personalities, men and women most often choose the friendliness of fellow employees (64 percent). Women are much more interested in issues of equality and diversity than men (12 percent more cited this as an important aspect of employer culture). FIGURE 27

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How do these findings relate to employers? One of the most important things to consider is that while there are differences between men and women, the differences are not especially pronounced in most cases. Having more family time, for example, has usually been considered a women’s issue, but our research shows men are also highly committed to work-life balance and spending more time with family. Similarly, “flexible work hours” isn’t a women’s issue but a Millennial issue.

For employers, it’s especially important to take care that in addressing what may be considered women-only issues, they not alienate men who care about many of the same things. In fact, given the high level of commonality between men and women, employers should be sure they include men in conversations about issues like work-life balance. One statistic in particular stands out as an issue that affects women much more than men: the relative unattractiveness of leadership posts due to high levels of stress. Women were 16 percent more likely to answer this way—a gap that’s among the largest we encountered in all our studies of how men and women differ. If employers are committed to attracting more women to leadership roles and developing in-house talent, this is a point that absolutely requires attention.


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