Millennial (Un)employment Motivations?

Yesterday on LinkedIn, a contact recommended reading “Dude, where’s my job? What happens when the most entitled generation ever hits a recession?” It was an interesting article and reminded me of some research we conducted in 2007 exploring the employment motivations of Millennials. Based on psychological needs, the research was designed to understand how an employer could appeal to Generation Y.

While I won’t bore you with all the details, three key insights emerged:

1. The need for security and reassurance: Through out childhood and most of their adult lives, Gen Y have been connected to the umbilical cord of their parents. When taking a step into the work world, they’re keen to find an employer who can provide a substitute for this unconditional security.

2. The need for affirmation: This takes many forms. It’s not just about money, it’s about affirming development. For Gen Y, every day should be a celebration of their awesome achievements. This was symbolised by an image of multiple champagne corks popping, which was selected by research participants because it represented the 'constant celebrations' they were expecting in their future workplaces.

3. The need for autonomy and variety: They hated being trapped repeating any particular task, let alone any single desktop application. This was particularly important for recent graduates, for whom the idea of stepping off one conveyor belt (school) and stepping onto the next (career) was very scary.

So how will Millennials react to a recession? Probably in a range of ways.

Some may become professional students, choosing to stay within the secure and reassuring environment of university and education. Expect some serious credentials post recession.

Some may work for love not money, choosing to pursue affirmation through internships, volunteer work or other areas of passion. Expect some fascinating resumes post recession. 

But perhaps most interestingly, many may become entrepreneurs. Having managed their own virtual businesses (Facebook, MySpace) for years, they’re pretty good at building networks, promoting their brand and innovating. If the opportunities don’t exist, you should expect them to make their own.