Survey Findings

Finding One: Millennials Are Planning Ahead

It is widely believed, among managers over age 40, that most young workers want to switch jobs often, don’t like planning ahead, and aren’t looking for employers to help them plan ahead. All of these beliefs are wrong. Surveys have confirmed that most Millennials are in fact looking for a single “perfect” employer with whom they can stay long term.2

On our survey, fully 59 percent of Millennials “strongly” agreed that they would like an employer “to take a genuine interest in my long-term career future.” Only 39 percent of older Gen Xers (in their 40s) responded the same way. To be sure, as workers get older, they may not be as focused on their long-term future. But this doesn’t explain why Gen Xers agree at a rate that is almost as low as that of older Boomers, who are often only a year or two from retirement.

A better explanation is generational. Born in the 1960s, the older Gen Xers were raised with a hands-off parenting style which encouraged kids to take care of themselves at a young age. They later entered a “McJobs” labor market at a time when youth pursued quick market opportunities, pushed up job turnover, and seldom counted on employers to help them. This “go it alone” attitude has aged with them.

Millennials, on the other hand, have been raised with an “attachment” parenting style which encourages kids to work closely with parents and other trusted adults—including teachers, coaches, counselors, and professors—in planning their future.  Throughout their childhood, Millennials have been much more likely than Boomer and Gen-X children were to have five- and ten-year plans, to practice “time management,” and to “schedule” their life goals.3 As young adults, most Millennials continue to plan ahead: Many employers say that Millennials in their late 20s now show more interest in 401(k) plans than do older Gen Xers in their 40s.  And Millennials want employers to take an active interest in that planning.

2. Three-quarters of Millennials say they would rather work for “one or two companies” rather than “a variety of companies.” (See Tapscott, Don. Growing Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.) Employees ages 20-29 are more likely than any other age group to agree that “it’s realistic to plan to join a company and stay for a decade or longer.” (See JWT Op. Cit.)

3. By the late 1990s, the majority of high school students said they had detailed five- and ten-year plans. (See “The State of Our Nation’s Youth, 1999-2000.” Horatio Alger Association. Print.) In 2006, both college students and their parents agreed six-to-one that the students spent more time planning for their future than the parents did at the same age. (See Millennials Go to College Surveys and Analysis: From Boomer to Gen-X Parents. LifeCourse Associates and Crux Research, 2007. Print.)