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World – 25% of millennials expect to have six or more employers

16 January 2012

The millennial generation (born between the late 1980s and 2000), now flooding into employment, will shape the world of work for years to come. Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of business. Their career aspirations, attitudes about work, and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st century workplace.

Professional services firm PwC has surveyed a total of 4,364 university graduates from 75 countries about their expectations of work. The major findings are:

• Loyalty-lite: The downturn has had a significant impact on the loyalty millennials feel towards their employers. In 2008, 75% expected to have between two and five employers in their lifetime but in this survey the proportion has fallen to 54%. Over a quarter now expect to have six employers or more, compared with just 10% in 2008.

• A time of compromise: Tough times have forced many millennials to make compromises when finding a job. 72% feel they made some sort of trade-off to get into work. Voluntary turnover is almost certain to increase as economic conditions improve. 38% of millennials who are currently working said they were actively looking for a different role and 43% said they were open to offers. Only 18% expect to stay with their current employer for the long-term.

• Development and work/life balance are more important than financial reward: This generation are committed to their personal learning and development and this remains the most essential benefit they want from employers. In second place they want flexible working hours. Cash bonuses come in at a surprising third place.

• Work/life balance and diversity promises are not being kept: millennials are looking for a good work/life balance and strong diversity policies but feel that their employers have failed to deliver on their expectations. 28% said that the work/life balance was worse than they had expected before joining, and over half said that while companies talk about diversity, they did not feel that opportunities were equal for all.

• A techno generation avoiding face time? With technology dominating every aspect of their lives, it is perhaps not surprising that 41% say they prefer to communicate electronically at work than face to face or even over the telephone. They routinely make use of their own technology at work and three-quarters believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work. However, technology is often a catalyst for intergenerational conflict in the workplace and many millennials feel held back by rigid or outdated working styles.

• Moving up the ladder faster: Career progression is the top priority for millennials who expect to rise rapidly through the organisation. 52% said this was the main attraction in an employer, coming ahead of competitive salaries in second place (44%).

• The power of employer brands and the waning importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR): Millennials are attracted to employer brands that they admire as consumers. In 2008, 88% were looking for employers with CSR values that matched their own, and 86% would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer met their expectations. Fast forward three years and just over half are attracted to employers because of their CSR position and only 56% would consider leaving an employer that didn't have the values they expected. Millennials are also turned off by some entire sectors. 14% said they would not want to work for an oil and gas company.

• Wanderlust: Millennials have a strong appetite for working overseas. 71% expect and want to do an overseas assignment during their career. This is great news for many employers looking for global growth. However, the bad news is that millennials are attracted to destinations like the US, UK and Australia at the top of their wish list, and only 11% were willing to work in India and 2% in mainland China. Despite this, over half said they would be willing to work in a less developed country to further their career.

• Generational tensions: Millennials say they are comfortable working with older generations and value mentors in particular. But there are signs of tensions, with 38% saying that older senior management do not relate to younger workers, and 34% saying that their personal drive was intimidating to other generations. Almost half felt that their managers did not always understand the way they use technology at work. 

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