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Millennials In the Workplace Update: What They Want, What They’re Changing & More

What do Millennials want out of their careers, how are they changing workplace norms, and what are their struggles? We’ve rounded up the most recent news about the next generation of workers. 

According to 2015 Department of Labor statistics, Millennials represent 35% of the U.S. workforce, and will make up nearly 50% by 2025. We’ve watched as the generation has shaken up the workplace, and brands have struggled to manage a new wave of employees. Myths about them run rampant, even as studies throw them into doubt

In our next monthly survey of Millennials and teens, we’ll be updating our own research on young workers’ expectations, career goals, and workplace preferences. Today, we’re looking at all of the recent news about this Millennial employees—from what they want out of a career to how they’re changing the way work is done:


Jobs in Tech & Web: Well-known tech and web companies top the list of where Millennials would most like to work. Recently released YouGov data revealed the top brands 18-34-year-olds would be proud to work for, and perk-filled tech company Google came in at number one. Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube took the number two, three, and four spots respectively, and Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple also made the top 10. The only non-tech brands to make the list are Nike, Disneyland/Disney World, and Johnson & Johnson. For adults 35 and older, the top responses leaned more to medical brands, with Mayo Clinic coming in at number one.

Clear Goals: Mic’s 28-year-old CEO Chris Altchek is a Millennial leading a mostly Millennial staff, and tells Mic that he finds the workplace stereotypes that haunt the generation to be “over-simplifications.” But Altchek does say Millennials “…work their asses off to get these things done, and at the end of three months they may want the next project or a promotion or a raise.” To meet these expectations, Mic sets clear short-term goals, and every three months employees are given a new project with outlined objectives and rewards at completion.  

Meaningful Careers: According to our research, 76% of Millennials would rather have a career they are passionate about but doesn’t earn a lot of money than have a high earning career that they are not passionate about. According to research by ADP, while Millennials value freedom and autonomy in their careers, the youngest Millennials put “more of an emphasis on a search for meaning within their jobs than previous generations, who tended to look for meaning outside of work.” Meaningful positions could be a crucial requirement for the next working generation: in a survey, 41% of Millennials wanted a job that provided growth, and only 30% of Gen Z said the same. (Though we should do note they’re not yet in the workplace, so that position could change.)

Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility: As we noted earlier this month, the new generation of workers are killing traditional work hours: according to one study, 77% of Millennials feel they can be more productive with flexible schedules and 84% are “always connected” and continue to check their work email throughout the day. Another found that Millennial professionals “prioritize balance, smart use of technology and opportunities for growth.” To stay connected, employers are encouraged to implement “business-friendly chat and social tools, collaborative platforms and e-learning programs.”


Job Perks: The Washington Post reports that, retirement benefits are not appealing to the generation who have “different problems” from the employees who came before them. For Millennials, student debt is a “burdensome financial problem,” that has delayed their abilities to buy a house or get married. Now workplaces are stepping up to help solve one of their biggest challenges: Fidelity has begun offering full time employees up to $2,000 a year toward student loans, with a cap of $10,000. At the moment only three percent of companies offer this perk, but the number is expected to increase with more companies like Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Chegg, and LendEDU leading the way.

Parental Leave: We know that Millennials are approaching parenthood differently than previous generations, and recent reports indicate that they’re changing the way that brands approach parental leave. Millennials have inspired Coca-Cola to to extend its paid parental leave policy. In a blog post, the brand announced they would “offer six weeks of fully paid leave to new parents in the U.S.—including biological, adoptive, and foster moms and dads,” affecting about 4,000 employees. An internal group called “Coca-Cola Millennial Voices,” which works to attract and retain young employees, is credited with coming up with the updated policy. The changes fit into the generations’ parenting values: 48% of Millennial parents would take parental leave (13% more than Xers, and 24% more than Boomers).

Too-Tough Conditions: According to The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street is breaking long-held traditions to better manage Millennials. In the past, entry-level bankers were expected to put in long hours, perform trivial tasks, and “keep their heads down,” to move up the corporate ladder. That formula is no longer working for young employees: in 2015, analysts and associates who left a position within a dozen investment banks stayed an average of 17 months, nine months less than those who had left the previous decade. In response, banks are retooling their programs by limiting work hours, providing opportunities for faster advancement, and assigning more significant tasks to young employees.  


Off-time Guilt: Think Millennials are lazy? What if we told you they don’t even stop working when they’re on vacation? A new survey reports that 35% of Millennials say they work every day of their vacations, and feel less productive when they get back. It’s clear that entering the workplace at a time when they are always accessible via mobile has made an impact. This off-time guilt is no passing trend: In 2014, another survey found the generation feels more guilty about taking vacation time than older workers, with 40% admitting guilt for using all their time versus 18% of Boomers. They are also the most likely to check in on work after work hours, with more than 52% reporting they feel obligated to respond to emails when they’re not at work.

Burnout: Millennial women are under pressure in the workplace. Fast Company recently reported on an increasing trend of women burning out before the age of 30—and it’s not because they are becoming mothers. A recent study has shown “women experience significantly higher rates of role overload, or feel that they are unable to complete their assigned duties in the work time allowed.” Since only 11% of women make the choice to leave their jobs to have children, some are saying high expectations in the always-connected corporate world may be the cause. 

Gen-Culture Gaps: Generations have different cultural context points, and these different viewpoints can cause clashes in the workplace. Millennials have been noted for their more casual work attire, but that’s not the only thing that makes them look different from Xer and Boomer employees. The generation’s acceptance of tattoos doesn’t necessarily jibe with current workplace culture either. According to Pew Research, 40% of Millennials have at least one tattoo, and 70% of the tattooed members of the generation say they hide them from their boss. A recent university survey found that 86% of students with visible tattoos believe they will have a harder time finding a job after graduation. This modern workplace woe could be one of the reasons behind the 46% increase in tattoo removal among young consumers in the last few years.