How Millennials Are Redefining Success @HuffingtonPost

The Boston College Center for Work and Family asked participants questions related to how they managed their careers: How do they search for their jobs? How do they define success? What are employers doing to assist young people in their development? What organizational characteristics are most likely to increase employee work-effort, retention and satisfaction?

There were many interesting findings, but here are some of the key takeaways:

Millennials are ambitious, and are willing to work for success. Career growth opportunities are rated at the very top of criteria for the selection of an employer. In our sample, 82% of young men and 71% of young women would like to advance to a position with greater influence on policy decisions and 74% of men and 67% of women expressed a strong desire to advance to a position in senior management in their very large companies. And they were willing to do the work to attain these positions. 82% wanted to take on increasingly challenging tasks and 80% said they are willing to put in a great deal of extra effort to help their employer be more successful.

… But not at the expense of their lives outside of work. The importance of “life over work” was reinforced by study participants. The majority (66%) clearly felt that their lives outside of work were much more important to their sense of identity than their careers. 23% of participants indicated that life and work were equally important. Although a very high percentage of respondents want to advance up the career ladder, only 20% were willing to pursue this goal at the expense of time with their families and their personal lives.

Job loyalty still exists. Much has made of employee loyalty being a “thing of the past” and not a value held by most Millennials. The majority (60%) of the young adults said that they plan to stay in their jobs for some time and at a rate of more than 2-1, study participants believed that staying with their employers was a better advancement strategy than leaving their organizations.

Defining what constitutes success. Six measures stood out as extremely important in terms of how young adults measure their career success: work-life balance (44%); job satisfaction (43%); salary/salary growth rate (35%); achievement of personal goals (27%); work achievements (25%); and development of new skills (24%).

Solid career navigation skills lead to greater job satisfaction. Participants who rated themselves higher on career navigation skills (e.g. they know what is important to them in their career, they know what skills they possess, they are able to set clear career goals and communicate those effectively) were more satisfied with their jobs. Those who were more satisfied with their jobs scored higher on work-effort and intention to stay with their employers, and also were happier with their lives overall.

Gender roles are continuing to shift. While the young men in our study were slightly more ambitious for advancement than the young women, the differences across gender are definitely diminishing. Perhaps one of the largest (and most surprising) gender differences we observed in the study was in response to the question, “Would you consider being an at-home parent if your spouse’s income was adequate?” 51% of men indicated they would consider the stay-at-home option compared to 44% of women.

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