Millennials are not as different as companies think, study shows

Millennial workers are misunderstood, according to SAP’s recently released Workforce2020 study.

The San Francisco-based tech company surveyed 2,700 executives and 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Half of employees surveyed were millennials. The study found similarities between millennial and non-millennial workers.

“We learned millennials are not as different as we think they are,” said Karie Willyerd, Workplace Futurist at SAP.

Willyerd says the study debunks myths about millennial workers and shows similarities in terms of millennials and non-millennial workers’ wants, needs and fears amid the changing workforce.

  • For example, myth number one: millennials care more than non-millennials about making a positive difference in the world through work. According to the study, one-fifth of millennials and non-Millennials alike cite “making a difference” as important to their job satisfaction.
  • Myth number two: Achieving work/life balance is more important to millennials. Survey data indicates 31 percent of non-Millennials say work/life balance important to their job satisfaction, vs. 29 percent of millennials.
  • Myth number three: Meeting income goals is less important to millennials as long as they are learning and growing. Research indicates millennials prioritize meeting career goals and income goals, followed distantly by learning and growing.

When it comes to job satisfaction, millennials prioritize meeting career goals (35 percent), meeting income goals (32 percent), and meeting goals for advancement (29 percent). Non-millennials prioritize corporate values that match their own (30 percent), achieving work/life balance (31 percent), and meeting income goals (30 percent).

The Workforce2020 study looked at millennial and non-millennial motivations for work.

The Workforce2020 study looked at millennial and non-millennial motivations for work. (SAP)

However, the study suggests millennials and non-millennials differ in terms of how they need to be managed, how they view professional development and how they like to receive feedback from their supervisors.

Nearly one-third of millennials say they expect more feedback on their performance than they currently receive—and they want it more often than non-millennials. More than two-thirds of millennials want informal feedback from their managers at least monthly, whereas less than half of non-millennials expect feedback that often. The non-millennials are perfectly content with the routine 1-2 performance evaluations per year. They want to do their job and be left alone.

“While non-millenials don’t want feedback, they very much want to be developed,” Willyerd said. “In fact, some said they’d considered leaving their jobs because of a lack of training and development. But they don’t want feedback.”

The study shed light on the millennial misunderstanding and revealed a number of other interesting findings below:

  • Nearly 35 percent of respondents are fearful of the lack of opportunities for advancement opportunities within their company. When asked “do you have the skills now that you will need in three years,” only 50 percent of respondents said yes.
  • When asked “Is your company able to provide you with the skills you need,” the majority of employees said no. More than 70 percent of workers said the training they are receiving is not helping them to stay competitive.
  • The study shows a number of workers are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. When asked what their next career move is, a number of workers said they will get another year of two of experience before they go out on their own. This was true across the board among millennials and non-millennials.

Kia Croom is the Chief Social Responsibility Officer at Corporate Social Responsibility Advisors. Follow her on Twitter @newsbykiac.

Kia Croom