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Millennials in the Workplace


Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business (CWB) conducted a survey of 1,000 college educated men and women born since 1980 to provide a more in-depth picture of the career aspirations of Millennials and the values driving those aspirations.

The results challenge the idea of an ambition gap that has gained media and corporate attention in two significant ways. First, Millennials have not rejected the corporate world, but they will seek other options, such as starting their own companies, if they cannot find workplaces that accommodate their personal values – prominent among them time allocation, relationships and job security.

They are confident in their abilities and strive for career success, but will not tolerate unpleasant workplaces that do not allow them to be their authentic selves in expressing their personal and family values. On the other hand, they are loyal and dedicated to companies that allow them to stay true to their personal and family values.

Gender Similarities

A second finding of the study relates to gender similarities. The attitudes and aspirations of Millennial men and women are converging. Both men and women are family-oriented and seek a personal life beyond work. While women are still not being treated similarly to men, the findings suggest that the best path to advancing women in corporate America is to see the problem as a generational issue, not a woman’s issue, because both men and women are seeking the same type of workplace where they can be their true selves.

Companies risk the loss of Millennial men as well as Millennial women by not allowing employees to accommodate personal and family values as part of the way they accomplish their work.

Consistent with previous studies, Millennials place a higher premium on the success of their personal lives than on their careers. But there is more to this story. They want to spend time with their families and fulfill career aspirations. Sixty-five percent of respondents said that being successful in a high-paying career or profession is either one of the most important things in their lives or very important. They have not rejected the corporate world.

More than 72 percent of respondents said they are interested in working in a big corporation someday, with 48 percent stating that their ideal career path would be working at only one or two companies over the course of their careers.

When asked what they value most in a job beside enough to pay bills, the top two responses for both men and women were “ensures my family’s financial security for the long run/builds wealth” and “gives me the opportunity to learn and build my skills.”

Career Success

To achieve career success, most Millennials are willing to or somewhat willing to take a lateral move for the experience or connections they would make (84 percent), to travel frequently (69 percent), to relocate (68 percent), to work long hours and weekends (53 percent), to place their children in daycare or hire a nanny (54 percent) or to take a lower-paying or unpaid job or internship for experience/connection (53 percent).

All of this is good news for companies. Essentially, Millennials are looking for a “work family.” They are willing to sacrifice to ultimately achieve security for their families and work where they are valued and providing value. Eighty-four percent said that “knowing I am helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important to me than professional recognition.”

Yet Millennials are much less willing to endure unpleasant conditions on the job, with only 30 percent of the respondents somewhat or very willing to work in an unpleasant work environment to achieve career success. This is a relationship-oriented generation that expects mutual respect.