What Millennials Want: new study reveals 5 interesting insights

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This topic contains 21 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Carl 2 weeks, 3 days ago.

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  • #181455

    David B. Grinberg

    Quantifying the Millennial zeitgeist has captivated academics and the media alike,” according to a LinkedIn article based on a new global study from Deloitte.

    “And yet, despite the extensive coverage on the subject…we’re all still struggling to define what this generation actually wants,” states the author.

    This raises several questions:

    • What do you think Millennials really want in the workplace?
    • What do you think they expect from Corporate America & Gov?

    The 2014 study from Deloitte reveals five interesting insights.


    “Deloitte’s third annual Millennial Survey surveyed nearly 7,800 Millennials from 28 countries across Western Europe, North America, Latin America, BRICS and Asia-Pacific about business, government and innovation. The questionnaire focused on the role business plays in society; its objectives, impact and outcomes; the responsibility of business and government and how well each is addressing the challenges faced by society; the potential impact of new technologies and innovation; and how businesses help people to bring out new ideas and develop their leadership skills.”

    • Do you agree with the study’s findings?
    • What else would you add?

    Also check out:

    Why Are Millennials Wary of Working for Gov?


    * All views and opinions are those of the author only.

  • #181493

    Mark Hammer
    I just finished firing this off to a colleague who sent me an article from Public Personnel Management on that very topic. Seems equally relevant here.
    I always have some misgivings about any writers who ascribe some sort of uniformity to a generation. The subtext is that the birth cohort in question has some set of attitudes and perspectives drawn out of thin air. As a devout contextualist, I look at it from the vantage point of potential generational differences in formative experiences. Textbook cases are things like Glen Elder’s classic work on those who grew up in the Great Depression. But even there, Elder is quick to note that “growing up” in the Depression, itself, posed different experiences, depending on how old you were during that period.
    So, when I think about “Gen Xers” and “Millenials”, I am giving to asking the question “What sorts of experiences might have been more common for that cohort than for others?”. That similarly implies that if it was common to 10% of that cohort, and only 5% of previous cohorts, it is, at the same time, both distinctive AND atypical. What might be both distinctive and atypical of those coming of age during the identified historical period, that could conceivably shape their attitudes towards career choices and trajectory? And, for me, the probable answer is: debtload. If I have simply done what others told me I needed to do (go to university from high school), and acquired considerable debt burden during the process, my conception of what any career choice has some sort of obligation to do for me will be different than if I finish high school, have no consumer or school debt, or familial responsibility, and am happy to pull in a few bucks, pay my rent, buy a beer for myself and my friends, and cover my car insurance.
    In short, the post-secondary path of some Millenials imposes greater burden on their employment to provide validation and vindication of the path they either chose for themselves, or were goaded into choosing. But that is only some Millenials. A great many will want little more from their employer than decent compensation, decent working conditions, nice benefits, and reasonable assurances of stable employment and maybe upward mobility in the long term. And none of that is at all different than what their equivalent would have wanted from a job in 1950, 1970, or 1990. There are enough post-secondary grads seeking that career-vindication to be concerned with, but they are not the majority. Again, distinctive for the generation, but atypical.
    The area of interest revolves around what that small nucleus consider to BE their relevant vindication. For some, the vindication/validation comes in the form of a sense of accomplishment, in the form of serving the public good, or “personal projects” (e.g., see Brian Little’s work: http://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/directory/[email protected] ). For others, it’s “Show me the money!”. But I would contend that, as disparate as these orientations might seem, they are both about vindication/personal justification of a substantial financial and time commitment.
  • #181491

    Peter Sperry

    I read this after helping my cousin’s son rewrite his resume, largely to eliminate discussion of what he wanted from a job and focus instead on the value he could provide to a prospective employer.

    Too many millennials seem to approach their careers with a sense of entitlement unmatched by any compensating work ethic. Look at the unemployment rate for generational cohorts and you have to ask why employers are not using buyouts and early retirement incentives to replace boomers who have built seniority and corresponding salaries with entry level millennels who would cost much less and become the future of the organization. Perhaps the executive suite is tired of reading reports about what these kids want and has decided to stick with proven producers in hopes the next cohort has more realistic expectations.

  • #181489

    David B. Grinberg

    Thank you, Mark, for your astute intellectual feedback. You make several excellent points. Moreover, you help broaden the scope of generational analysis by looking beyond all the superficial noise on this issue. Much obliged.

  • #181487

    David B. Grinberg

    Good points, Peter, your valuable feedback is very much appreciated (as always).

    First, this sense of entitlement you speak of may also be due in part to younger generations thinking they’re better than us (Gex X and Boomers) because most millennials have mastered cutting edge technologies when many private sector companies are still playing catch up to simply keep up, especially small businesses.

    Then there are public sector entities and some older people who are challenged and thus resistant to fast evolving digital/mobile technology (to put it nicely).

    Second, another reason most large employers avoid targeted mass layoffs of older workers — to bring in younger folks at a cheaper cost — is because the C-Suite knows such unlawful employment action would likely generate a class age discrimination lawsuit.


  • #181485

    Peter Sperry

    1. The myth of older workers being unable to master new technology is laughable. We invented most of it. At 57, I am the most tech savvy person in my office. Which is actually quite common. Aversion to new technology was actually a very real problem among older workers…in the 1980s. It has only been a major issue for the past 10-15 years in the imaginations of children and people looking for an easy excuse for why the latest fad flames out after 18-36 months. It cannot be because the new product, app or idea just doesn’t have any value. Failure to launch must be blamed on older workers who just cannot adapt. Even though most of the older workers try the new idea, give it a fair chance and actually adapt well to any that are valuable.

    2. I did not say mass layoffs (straw man). I said buyouts and early retirement offers. Big difference. It is somewhat difficult for even the most aggressive labor lawyer to sue a corporation for making an offer the employee is under no obligation to accept. But I am sure there are those who would try.

  • #181483

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks for your return comments, Peter.

    Just to clarify:

    I don’t agree with the “myth of older workers being unable to master new technology.Nevertheless, while this persistent stereotype may be “laughable” to us, that doesn’t mean that Millennials disagree with it.

    Also, I do agree with you that some labor lawyers 1) routinely try to “push the envelope” with novel legal theories, and 2) there’s too much frivolous litigation, generally speaking, which is why the court system is so clogged up.

    As always, thank you for your astute comments and observations, Peter.

  • #181481

    David B. Grinberg

    FYI: NextGov “Wired Workplace” column reports today on the Deloitte study, respective to public sector jobs…

    • “Millennials want to work for organizations that foster creativity and innovation, yet most aren’t expecting to find those opportunities at government agencies…just 22 percent believe the most innovative solutions are most likely to come from government.”

    • “That could be problematic for federal agencies faced with looming Baby Boomer retirements over the coming years…In addition, most Millennials agree that the government is not doing enough to address society’s biggest issues, despite it having the greatest potential to do so.”

    • And despite wanting the ability to be creative, innovative and serve the public good in their jobs, many Millennials said they would work independently by digital means if these opportunities were not provided.”

    • “The good news for federal agencies competing with the private sector for key Millennial talent is that businesses also are falling short when it comes to providing these opportunities to Millennials, with most saying their current employer does not encourage them to think creatively.”

    NextGov asks:

    • “Is your agency prepared not only to recruit Millennials but also keep them interested and engaged? Moreover, what does the study reveal about the future leadership of your agency?”
  • #181479

    Tony Casper

    The sense of entitlement you see in many of today’s youth has been pushed on them by the liberal-minded TV shows they are watching, from their time as infants, until HS graduation. Their psyches are formed early on and the entitlement mentality is reinforced continuously throughout adolescence. By the time they enter college (if they get that far), they feel entitled to whatever they fancy which is also unfortunately reinforced by parents and the government (e.g. welfare, obama phones, obamacare).

    These experiences have fundamentally changed the landscape in the United States and have been passed on to the rest of the world. It is no wonder our country is looked upon as weak and self-important.

  • #181477

    John Robert Nixon

    The population sample for this survey seems very peculiar to me. Generational problems vary from culture to culture and country to country. I don’t understand why they would mix so many populations together. Not only that, but I read this survey was conducted online. This would immediately have a huge impact on the socio-economic diversity of the sample population.

  • #181475

    Carol Kruse

    David, I am still grinning from reading the LinkedIn article about the 5 things Millennials want from their careers — they sound just like me when I was their age! (I’m an early BBoomer, born in ’47) I can both agree and disagree with many of the comments made here about the Millennials, depending on which particular Millennial I think of, in relation to the comment.

    That said, the Millennials in general do inspire hope for the future, in me. There will be some rough bumps during the generational transition, I believe, but overall I believe the world will be in good hands once the Millennials have reached the age to have risen to leadership roles. I am actually in awe of the caring for others and of the intellect and energy I see in most of the Millennials I know.

    Is my agency prepared to recruit and retain Millennials? Washington leadership is working toward that goal, but I see too much inertia between there and the ground to have it happen as quickly as it should. In defense (somewhat) of that inertia, too many working people are struggling to stay employed and are doing the work of 2 or more jobs just so they can keep a paycheck coming in…they don’t have the luxury of time to stop working, look up, and learn about and get involved in the seemingly esoteric issues of change, innovation, and the agency’s future. They often resist change because they don’t have time to learn a new way of doing something, however much it may intrigue them. Add to that the inherent bureaucratic inertia, the sometimes purposeful discouragement of innovation, and the lack of open communication in many organizations, and the idea of the government being responsive to and participating in rapid change seems discouragingly far off in Time. In pondering all this I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a good reason for workers to retire…it facilitates oft-needed change!

    That said, I’m still working — I can’t afford to retire yet. However, I am aware of and try my best to embrace and adopt changes that make sense and make our jobs easier, and make our agency more relevant. I have to leave it to others to determine if I should be retired already!! (I’d actually love to retire and have the time to become a techno-geek, I’m addicted to learning and technology opens up the candy drawer for me!)

  • #181473

    David B. Grinberg

    Carol, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, insights and observations. You make numerous excellent points.

    It’s good to hear such a positive outlook about Millennials. I’m sure they will ultimately transform the way gov works with new tech innovations, but it will take some time — as you say. Plus, once gov adapts to all that institutional change there will already be a newer generation waiting in the wings to take over, likely with the same outlook that most Millennials have today. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    Regarding retirement, perhaps your agency will offer buyouts in the near future. Would that type of incentive cause you to reconsider? It’s tempting…

  • #181471

    Kristina Marzullo

    Thanks for posting this study. There are some interesting findings included in the report. Do you think that the wants, needs, desires of Millennials are much different than the rest of us?

    Deloitte’s report included:

    The results revealed that Generation Y wants to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills, and make a positive contribution to society.

    I’m not part of Gen Y but I still want those same things and I think most of the workforce does as well. What seems to be setting the Gen Y generation apart is that they aren’t afraid to speak their mind and tell their managers what they want.

    What do you think?

  • #181469

    David B. Grinberg

    That’s a very astute observation, Kristina. Your valuable feedback is appreciated.

    I suppose some generations are more alike than they might otherwise think, at least about some things. I think Gen Y may speak out more freely because they came of age in the Information Age with an increasingly diverse range of communications tools to voice their opinions to the world.

    It usually never hurts to ask. However, just because one asks does not mean they will receive what they ask for. I lot of folks seem to think there’s a sense of entitlement there. Either way, more power to them.

  • #181467

    Edward Frank

    An interesting read; especially given I just completed a course at the National Defense University on Leading the Cyber Workforce. This specific topic was one of the most significant take away from the course.

  • #181465

    David B. Grinberg

    John, thanks so much for your valuable comments. You raise several excellent points.

    Having once worked as an analyst for a global survey research firm (now Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research or GQRR) I would offer the follow, which you probably already well know:

    1) No survey is “perfect” per se. Each one has a statistical margin or error — some bigger than others.

    2) Any poll merely represents a snapshot in time. Therefore results tend to be fluid rather than static.

    3) Respondents don’t always answer honestly in surveys/polls. I’m not sure if this is more likely online, over the phone, in a focus group, etc. Perhaps there’s a survey on that (lol).

    4) Any survey results can be manipulated to an extent due to the sampling size, sample selected, metrics used, data mechanics, etc.

    Thus, again, your points well made. Thanks for your feedback, which is appreciated.

  • #181463

    David B. Grinberg

    Tony, thanks so much for sharing your valuable views on this topic. Your feedback is appreciated. I suppose that a generation born with cell phone or smart tech attached at the hip would be more likely to expect getting things the easy way and want instant gratification.

    Moreover, it appears that every young generation at one time endures criticism and bemoaning by their predecessor generations. Hopefully, Gen Y will grow out of it as they age and mature. I think we need to now turn more attention to Gen Z, which should likewise undergo such scrutiny as they come into their own.

  • #181461

    David B. Grinberg

    Thanks for the feedback, Edward, which is appreciated. This is definitely a hot topic per se and doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. As I’ve noted, I think we also need to turn more attention to Gen Z as they incrementally age from children to teens to 20-somethings. They will be the new generation of leaders, replacing Gen Y, before we know it. Time flies!

  • #181459

    David B. Grinberg

    A few articles of interest focusing on how the political parties and public figures are trying to appeal to Millennials and secure their political allegiance per the upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections (note, actual hard-copy newspaper headlines are used below whereas the online headlines may differ — yes I still get the paper delivered, I’m a proud Gen Xer!):

    Please share your valuable thoughts on this political appeal to millennials and what, if anything, may result from it. Many thanks!

  • #181457

    David B. Grinberg

    Do you recall your budding career aspirations or big dream as a maturing teen or 20-something?

    A new post looks back on my experience and suggests some advice for the next generation of leaders.

    Do you agree with the steps outlined in the post? Have any of them worked well (or poorly) for you? Any other points to add? Please share your valuable views and/or personal journeys in the comment section…

  • #361693


    great article, thanks for your work!

  • #365422


    Really good research! I am a millennial and I want to share my own opinion, what exactly millennials want to learn. In my opinion, millennials want to learn something interesting for them, relevant and practical, not theoretical. As a millennial, I realized that there is a lot of unnecessary and boring topics in my curriculum. I decided to reduce the time to prepare for classes and use https://edubirdie.com/dissertation-help to perform complex tasks, and dedicate my free time to more interesting things for me. So it turned out that I was writing a dissertation with the help of this service, and I was spending my free time on my own hobbies and talent development.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by  Carl.

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