Personal fulfillment comes 1st for Gen Y workers

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Younger employees are more likely to choose a job based on whether they find the work personally fulfilling than on the level of compensation offered, according to a new study.

The Kelly Global Workforce Index found that:


  • For 38% of Generation Y workers finding work that was personally fulfilling and provided good work/life balance was most important when choosing an employer.
  • 36% of Gen Y workers said opportunities for personal growth and advancement were the deciding factor when selecting an employer.
  • 23% of Gen Y workers looked for a positive corporate culture – compared to 16% who put an employer’s financial performance first and 15% who prioritised the longevity of an employer.
  • Only 19% of Gen Y workers considered the level of compensation or benefits most important when choosing a job.

There is often a lack of understanding about what motivates young employees, Debbie Grenfell from Kelly Services said. “Employers looking to attract and retain the best young talent should consider what young people are looking for. Gen Y is often thought of as ‘Generation Me’, but what this survey shows is that young people are actually motivated by far more than just a desire to be paid well. They are looking to find work that they feel is personally rewarding – work that they find meaningful.”

A focus on personal growth over pay levels should make Generation Y appealing to prospective employers, Grenfell said. “There is this idea that Gen Y are a privileged group out for themselves, but this just isn’t true. Employers can get the best results out of young employees if they recognise that this is a generation used to working hard for causes that they believe in, on everything from global warming to organising a student army to clean up after earthquakes. Harnessing that sort of passion and commitment can be a real bonus for businesses.”

The results show that Gen Y are less likely to be impressed by the prospect of working for a market leader or a company with a prestigious track record, Grenfell said. “Instead they are looking for a workplace that will enable them to grow their skill set in a supportive and encouraging environment. This means that businesses which are able to build a positive team will have a real advantage when it comes to the search for the best young talent.”

Grenfall offered the following insights about Gen Y workers to HR:


  • When considering job offers, their two most important considerations are personal growth/advancement, and personal fulfilment/work-life balance.
  • They are impatient. If opportunities are not available at the workplace, they will find their own opportunities elsewhere.
  • Work is “meaningful” if they have the ability to excel/develop, or if it aligns with their personal values.
  • They believe they can make a difference. Supervisors need to explain how their work contributes to the bigger scheme of things.
  • They need feedback often, and in bite sizes.
  • They like their achievements to be celebrated in as public a way as possible.


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