A new study of Millennials across the globe confirms some common assumptions about this generation while proving other stereotypes wrong. The most important lesson, however, is the heterogeneity of this generation, which is overlooked by employers. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 2 of the survey.)
Assumptions about Millennials are rampant — for example, that they don’t want to work hard or pay their dues, or that work/life balance is more important than money or career. A new, exhaustive study, co-sponsored by the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, the HEAD Foundation and Universum and covering Millennials from around the world, reveal a more complex profile of the generation that will represent 75% of the workforce within 10 years.
For example, more than 70% of Millennials surveyed indicated they hoped to achieve leadership positions, a result that coincides with previous studies. However, the major draw of a leadership position, according to the INSEAD survey, was “high earnings.” Money is more valued by Millennials than the stereotypes suggest.
As for working hard and commitment, 64% felt they were up to the challenge of stress and hard work that came with a leadership role. However, for a majority of respondents, challenging work meant being involved in innovative work and learning new things, not coping with a heavy workload.
Concerning the pace of careers, 60% of Millennials valued a fast-track path to leadership punctuated by constant promotions, confirming the accepted wisdom.
Also confirming the accepted wisdom was a question that asked respondents whether they would trade a well-paid and prestigious job for better work-life balance. The vast majority either agreed (47%) or were neutral; only 17% disagreed.
One area in which general results diverged from common wisdom concerned the influence of government. Most Millennials surveyed believed that private business or individuals — private business in the Middle East, North America and Western Europe and individuals in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe — had a greater influence. The researchers emphasize that this reflected what Millennials believe occurs, not what should occur.
The most strongly divergent result concerns the involvement of family and friends in careers. The image of Millennials bringing parents to job interviews is wrong. Overall, only 26% of Millennials involved parents in career decisions, and 21% said friends had an influence.
Of course, it can be dangerous to make generalizations about such a large and dispersed population based on survey averages. This new research makes a major contribution of the discussion by highlighting the differences among different geographic regions. For example, while money was in the aggregate the major draw of a leadership position, Millennials from different parts of the globe cited different reasons for wanting to become leaders. Millennials from Central and Eastern Europe and North America wanted most of all to influence their organizations; Millennials from Africa, on the other hand, wanted the opportunity to coach and mentor others. In another example, fast-track careers, as noted above, were valued by 60% of respondents. However, there were significant differences among regions: respondents from the Asia-Pacific region and Central and Eastern Europe valued a fast-track career the most (67% and 70% respectively), while only 39% in the Middle East thought it was important.
This study yields a number of recommendations for managers.
Testing Long-Held Hypotheses About Millennials. Henrik Bresman. Part One of Understanding a Misunderstood Generation (2014).
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