What drives millennials to seek new opportunities?
By Jackie Olson
Today’s young professionals looking to further their careers are reaping the benefits of a robust job market, allowing them to identify opportunities based on a range of features besides compensation. In fact, Merrill Corporation recently conducted a survey of junior associates working in the financial services industry to find out what factors are driving them to choose a new role. The survey sought input into why they chose their career and employer, job satisfaction levels, future career aspirations, and their views on the overarching capital markets industry. The results offer insight into what this future generation of industry leaders are looking for right now—in the early stages of their careers—from employers, direct managers, and perhaps most importantly, from themselves.
Reputation and Culture
The top two considerations millennials have when selecting a company include the company’s outward reputation (58 percent) and culture (50 percent). Both have become increasingly important across the board, with many organizations looking to align their brand values and corporate investments with those of the young professional audience to continue recruiting and retaining top talent. Often younger workers are navigating toward organizations that not only provide them with steady, rewarding work, but that help them to grow as individuals, both personally and professionally. Behind reputation and culture, respondents identified location, compensation, and work-life balance as the other major factors they take into consideration when pursuing an organization. Compensation, while important, surprisingly was not the most important factor when considering a new company, as location of the organization took the top spot.
On to the Next One?
When making a career decision to move from one role to another, location and compensation remain major drivers for young professionals. However, a notable shift by gender is becoming evident. More men see location and compensation (46 percent and 42 percent, respectively) as critical to their decision-making process, compared to women who were more likely to identify work-life balance (34 percent) highly among the important factors when moving careers.
As the epicenters of finance and tech organizations are expanding beyond major business hubs, more millennials are embracing the opportunity to explore location options and new areas of the United States. This nomadic mentality is leading young professionals to land in varied cities and no longer rely so heavily on a specific location as a determining factor for their career choices.
Boss or Mentor?
Young workers in today’s market have been pegged—often without robust data—as flighty and non-committal, prone to changing jobs on a frequent basis. However, in the capital markets setting that stereotype is being challenged as young professionals in this demographic are not looking for change. Rather, these professionals seem to crave better mentorship and guidance from their managers.
In looking at employees with less than two years of experience, more than half (58 percent) articulate a desire to have stronger mentorship in the workplace. These new entrants into the professional landscape are hungry for knowledge and guidance that will help them find career success and personal fulfillment. Perhaps the penchant of this group to seek new opportunities is rooted in a lack of mentorship and development, and not the desire for a change of scenery.
Beyond the Paycheck
No matter what stage of their career, unsurprisingly, employees are still very focused on compensation. However, the shift to total compensation versus base salary is taking precedence. In looking at their compensation package, young capital markets professionals are hoping to see employers increase their spending on bonuses, training and professional development, and benefits in addition to competitive base salary offering.
Stay or Go?
As career progression takes place, professionals are often met with the question of what their next move should be: different industry? Bigger or smaller company? Better alignment with core values? Interestingly enough, only 40 percent of respondents expected their professional futures to be with the same type of employer they currently work with. This lack of commitment to an industry and employer by millennials is only expected to grow as they continue to progress through their career lifecycle. Capital markets focused organizations need to recognize the needs and desires of their young employees and their broader view of their employment lifecycle, well beyond their current role.
What Does it all Mean?
For several years, there have been stories about the evolving mindset in the workforce. Today’s college graduates and young professionals have different outlooks, interests, desires, and goals than the generation that came before them. This shift of priorities across all industries is causing organizations to rethink their recruitment plans and find creative ways to retain talent through bringing better work-life balance structures, improving professional development initiatives, investing in personal interests, and creating more entrepreneurial and collaborative work environments. It will be interesting to watch how HR leaders respond and how organizations can harness the intellect and passion of this growing segment of future corporate leaders.
Jackie Olson is vice president of human resources for Merrill Corporation.