25 June 2015

Millennials at Work Survey from Euromoney Learning Solutions

'Three quarters of millennials say that they have a different attitude to work than others'; read more in the survey from Euromoney Learning Solutions.
It’s official: nearly three quarters of Millennials say that they do have a different attitude to work than other workers. According to the recent survey of 500 British workers between the ages of 18 and 34 conducted by Euromoney Learning Solutions, the biggest difference between the generations is ambition.

Some 37% of Millennials say that they are more ambitious than their colleagues who are 35 or over, while 23% say that they want more recognition and feedback. The reputation of younger workers as job-hoppers is cemented too: nearly a quarter say that the main difference between generations is that Millennials are less likely to work for the same organisation for more than five years.

But despite being widely known for their strong ethical concerns, only 2% of respondents picked this as the biggest difference between the age groups – perhaps reflecting an increasing understanding of corporate social responsibility (CSR) across the board.

“Millennials are expected to be three quarters of the workforce by 2025,” says Guy Cooper, Managing Director - Public courses & In-house training at Euromoney Learning Solutions. “Companies who are failing to adapt to their preferred ways of working could find themselves at a disadvantage. So we looked at how Millennials’ experience of the workplace measures up to the key factors found to engage and motivate them.”

What do Millennials want?

Perhaps unsurprisingly in an age-group that is often in the first decade of their careers, progression comes out top, picked as “very important” by 46%.

Personal and professional development came in second and fourth respectively, just a few percentage points apart. “That these two factors are rated so similarly indicates the shift in the way younger Millennials view their careers. It’s not simply about obtaining professional success, but integrating it with personal goals and fulfilment.”

Receiving regular recognition and feedback comes second to last, despite the reputation Millennials have of requiring constant validation and praise. The chance to innovate is the least important factor.

What are the inter-generational differences?

Covering people from their teens until mid-thirties, the survey shows that there are some major differences between older and younger Millennials.

Younger Millennials between 18 and 24 are 17% more likely to say that the opportunity to progress is very important than their older peers. However, they’re 9% less likely to rate training and professional development as very important.

Older Millennials are more likely to say that flexible working is very important, by 6%, perhaps reflecting a shift in lifestyle as families are started.

There’s also some difference in self-perception between the two age groups, with younger Millennials seeing themselves as requiring more feedback and recognition but being more loyal to their employers than older Millennials.

How Millennial friendly are British businesses?

The answer is generally positive across all nine points: career progression, training opportunities, recognition and feedback, flexible working, collaborative working, quality of workplace environment, social media and technology use, CSR and innovation.

“Our research shows that many businesses are already Millennial friendly,” says Cooper. “As Millennials become an ever greater percentage of the working age population, organisations that provide the best environments for these workers are likely to enjoy a real competitive advantage when it comes to recruitment.”

Organisations are performing particularly strongly when it comes to CSR: just over half of all respondents say that it is a visible part of company culture, with another 32% say it’s present but plays a smaller role.

71% say that there are good opportunities for progression in their company, with nearly a third saying these opportunities are excellent – the type of working environment that could very well persuade employees to stay loyal.

Collaborative working seems to be the norm now, with three quarters of Millennials reporting that they frequently or sometimes work together. Just 7% say that they always work alone.

Flexible working appears to be becoming embedded in workplace culture, even if the degrees do vary across organisations. While only 15% of Millennials say that they enjoy flexibility over working hours and location, 34% have flexible working hours only and another 20% can vary their location but not their hours. Just over one in ten have no flexibility whatsoever.

But there are some areas in which organisations could make improvements. While a third of Millennials say that they can access training to improve their career prospects, the rest have more restricted opportunity. 37% work for companies which provide training to help improve their performance in their current position, but 19% only receive training to cover basic legal or knowledge requirements for their role and 10% get none at all.

“If almost a third of Millennials are receiving very little to no training opportunities, it means that the organisations they work for are at risk of demotivating or losing employees by failing to spot and nurture existing talent,” comments Cooper.

“In the long-term, this can have damaging consequences for productivity and competitiveness. Managers need to be aware of changes to the way training is delivered, including custom and off-the-shelf eLearning, which mean that there are more opportunities to fit professional development into hectic work schedules.”

Just under half of all Millennials say that social media isn’t used well in their organisation. “It’s not just that this could be frustrating for more digital savvy employees,” says Cooper. “This indicates that almost half of British businesses could be failing to maximise the existing skillsets and interests of their Millennial employees.”

Another surprise is that 58% say that there are limited opportunities for innovation within their company – and one in ten say that no innovation happens at all.

Which businesses are best for Millennials?

The most ambitious Millennials might find themselves drawn to companies with between 250 – 500 employees, where 84% of staff say there are excellent or good progression opportunities, higher than any other organisation by size.

These businesses also tend to offer good training opportunities – almost half say that this is designed to help them move up the career ladder, while just 4% say that there is no training. Again, this puts them above other sizes of organisation.

Although small companies, with less than 50 employees, have the largest percentage of Millennial employees who say there are no prospects of promotion (23% against 12% overall), 30% of employees at these companies say opportunities are excellent.

“This shows a polarisation of opportunity among these smaller companies, which might be due to differences in business type and expansion plans,” says Cooper. “Even if an organisation is limited in the promotions it can offer, offering other forms of incentives and reward can help keep employees engaged. Staff training can be an important aspect in this mix.”

Nearly a fifth of all employees at small companies receive no training at all.

When it comes a working environment, again businesses with 250 – 500 employees come out top. Just 11% of employees say that they lack any sort of good quality work spaces, the lowest overall. Again, the smallest companies come off worst, perhaps due to lack of space to create these areas.

Small organisations can be a good place for those interested in social media, as they’re more likely than average to use it effectively, or those with strong ethical concerns, as 82% of Millennials employed at these types of enterprises say there’s some sort of CSR programme in place. 

Are we suffering from a crisis of innovation?

Innovation drives productivity and value per employee, which is not only good for individual businesses but contributes to higher living standards and prosperity.

Yet innovation is consistently reported as one of the least important factors for Millennials at work, while the levels of innovation varies greatly.

One of the biggest issues raised by the survey is that innovation can happen in silos, either fragmented by department or by seniority. 43% of Millennials at the biggest companies, employing over 500 people, say that innovation is centred in some areas. Among medium sized companies, this figure rises to 53%.

Even more concerning are the companies where innovation isn’t happening at all, with the smallest and biggest companies experiencing this problem most severely. “Organisations which fail to innovate – and create the opportunities for staff to do so – risk losing out on new advances in their fields and declining productivity,” says Cooper. “Not to mention potentially losing talent to businesses that create an atmosphere where all employees can enjoy innovation’s challenges and rewards.”

The full data set from Euromoney Learning Solution’s Millennials at Work survey can be downloaded here.

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