Understanding the millennial mind-set

Viewpoints Competing for and developing talent

if a business is only as good as the people it hires, then determining just what it is that attracts top talent is vital. according to demographic trends, companies will face a talent drought as the world’s population grays and birthrates decline. by 2020, talent will be concentrated among the young. attracting these individuals—often referred to as millennials—is becoming a top business priority. yet 61 percent of CEOs say that recruiting and integrating younger employees is a challenge.1 in addressing that challenge, more and more business leaders are asking what millennials want in an employer.

where do millennials’ loyalties lie?

percent of respondents

Chart: How hard is it to find skilled board members
Source: PwC, Millennials at work: Perspectives from a new generation, 2008

Millennials are employees who joined the workforce after July 2000. They are often characterized as individuals who are tech savvy, globally oriented, desirous of traveling on the job, and interested in companies that share their views on social responsibility. On the flip side, millennials are just as frequently described as disloyal job-hoppers who demand work-related flexibility.

But as a recent global survey of over 4,000 college graduates has shown, there’s much more to millennials than a handful of perceived stereotypes. The study exploded certain popular misconceptions about what motivates this younger generation.2

Misconception 1: Millennials demand flexibility in their work life According to the survey, this is not altogether true—at least with respect to hours worked. Only 3 percent of survey respondents expect to work mainly at home, while 66 percent expect to work regular hours, with some flextime options available. The report speculates that perhaps millennials do not see total flexibility as a realistic option even though they may desire it. Image: Ensuring information security Moreover, as millennials
age and become more family oriented, these views on flexibility may change.

Misconception 2: Millennials see themselves working for multiple employers over the course of their careers Only 7 percent view working for 10 or more employers as positive. Seventy-five percent prefer two to five, and 30 percent said they would like to remain in one organization but in a variety of roles and positions.

Misconception 3: Millennials are disloyal They’re not. But a millennial’s loyalty to a company is not unconditional. More than half of the graduates surveyed claimed loyalty to their company so long as they felt fulfilled in their jobs. If employers fail to offer what millennials need, they will not hesitate to look elsewhere for other opportunities.

A key to tapping into a millennial’s loyalty may be development and training. When asked which benefit they value most highly, 53 percent of respondents chose development and training, whereas 41 percent chose cash bonuses. For employers, that preference is significant, especially during a downturn. Training is one of the first items to be curtailed in hard times.

Is your company appealing to millennials? To answer that question, you may need to assess recruitment, rewards, and personal development strategies. The demands and aspirations of younger workers are different from those of previous generations, and companies may need to rework their retention policies to be able to compete in tomorrow’s world.

1PwC, 12th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2009.
2 PwC, Millennials at work: Perspectives from a new generation, December 2008.