Study on the millennial generation



By 2020, Millennials – those born between 1982 and 1996 – will make up one third of the global workforce. To find out more about what career means to this generation of young people, Manpower carried out a major survey of 19 000 of them in 25 different countries. The results of this survey are now available to read in a number of publications. The first of these is dedicated to Millennials at work up to 2020, and the second looks at Millennials’ career aspirations.


Millennials and career up to 2020

Millennials: a career for me 

6 tips to attract and retain Millennials

By 2020, Generation Y will constitute over a third of the global workforce. The answers given by members of this generation to questions we asked have allowed us to identify several key elements which may assist businesses as they seek to attract Millennials, support them in their development and retain their loyalty. Because this is a self-starting generation with a variety of talents and real confidence in the future.

Offer them career security by demonstrating that they are in the right place to enhance their employability

According to our study, many Millennials (77%) believe that continuous skills development will be an integral part of their career. More than one third of them are ready to spend their own time and/or money on professional development and continuing education. Only 7% say that they have little interest in training opportunities. 

Our recommendations

Demonstrate that staying with the company can lead to career enhancement. Share examples of people who’ve progressed through training and on-the-job learning in your organization. Appeal to the Millennial aspiration to be more employable over the long-term. Employers should recognize and reward the learnability of their employees, and support it to ensure that employees continue to possess essential skills.

Focus on career variety & mobility

They are not the job hoppers some would have us believe. Given the chance, they will move on and move up, but more often than not they expect to advance with the same employer, and want new opportunities with this employer, not the next. In Switzerland, 67% of them intend to stay with their current employer for the next few years or longer. When asked what the “right” amount of time is to stay in a single role before being promoted or moving to another, about 54% said less than two years) and 19% said less than 12 months —confirming their appetite for new challenges and portfolio-style jobs.

Our recommendations

Create opportunities for Millennials to work on different projects with different teams to build experience and networks across the organization. Satisfy their appetite for new opportunities without them having to go elsewhere. Highlight the value of progression and not just promotion to build a portfolio of skills and experiences. 

Have regular career conversations

While Millennials prioritize the security of full-time employment, they also want regular change, new challenges and advancement. Growing up in a faster-paced world of sharing, rating and instant feedback, they see their careers through the same lens. Against this backdrop, annual performance reviews seem a little outdated, but most businesses still use this model. The study reveals that more than half of Millennials would prefer to receive feedback on their work and their performance after each project, or else continuously for ongoing projects. What’s more, 90% of them would choose face-to-face conversations, compared to 3% who prefer teleconferencing (via Skype or Facetime).

Our recommendations

Check in with Millennials regularly about their career path and development. Rather than annual reviews, focus on near-term objectives and implement plans to achieve them. Use these conversations to connect how their work today will enhance their career prospects and longer-term employability.

Appreciate your Millennials

Recognition and affirmation are important to Millennials. In Switzerland, 58% say they would consider leaving their current job due to a lack of appreciation and once they start to look elsewhere other issues like pay, benefits and lack of opportunities become significant too.

Our recommendations

Maintain a high-touch approach and offer frequent, face-to-face feedback, and support self-esteem.Find new channels that encourage recognition and sharing from managers and peers. It doesn’t cost anything and is an effective way to engage people in their roles. In addition, this allows the business to get direct feedback on employee expectations – so it’s win-win.

Be ready to ride the career waves & be flexible

Millennials expect to work harder and longer than previous generations, so they already anticipate more variety and more times when they will take their foot off the gas. 84% anticipate significant breaks along the way, confirming that Career Waves are replacing the Career Ladder of earlier generations. 92% of Swiss Millennials anticipate breaks of longer than four weeks along the way, mostly for personal reasons, be this to care for others or simply to take time for themselves.

Our recommendations

Anticipate breaks for personal reasons and know these go beyond traditional births, honeymoons and even caring for relatives. Recognize that lengthy careers mean time to re-tool and refuel are essential.Ride the career waves and make breaks an acceptable part of company culture. Be clear about what flexibility you can offer and help people re-enter the workforce when they return.

Be open to alternative work models

Millennials are ready to disrupt and be disrupted. Though they favor full-time work, more than one third say they are open to non-traditional forms of employment in the future —freelance, gig work or portfolio careers with multiple jobs. Self-employment is also a tempting future option. Their comfort with disruption and openness to new ways of working may put pressure on employers to adopt more of the flexibility and varied work offered by alternative employment models.

Our recommendations

Millennials tend to prefer full-time work, but many are also open to alternatives like part-time, freelance or portfolio work. Adopt some of the attractive aspects of these models—greater flexibility in where, when and how people work and a greater variety of projects—to better engage and retain Millennial workers.