How Millennials View Work: 9 Stats

how millennials view work


For our 2019 State of Work report, we surveyed more than 2,000 workers in the US and more than 2,000 workers in the UK and gathered hundreds of data points in the process.

Taken together, the report represents the latest findings on this topic, and all knowledge workers — from the C-suite to interns — would do well to read the whole thing. For this post we’ve drilled down into a single aspect of the report in order to highlight what the modern workforce can do to integrate the work of young employees.

How do the views of Millennials differ from those of their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts? Which group finds the greatest sense of purpose at work? Which group feels the most swamped by their to-do list? Which group spends the most time on their primary tasks?

Once you know the answers to these questions (shown below), you’ll be better able to address the different needs of your team members.

Here’s what we found:

  1. Millennials say 53% of the work they do matters to them personally. By contrast, Gen Xers put the number at 58% and Baby Boomers put the number at 67%. Why the disparity? It may be because Millennials are more likely to be assigned menial tasks that are necessary for starting a new career. Or it may be because younger people are more likely to have big visions for what they want out of work — visions that become more grounded in reality as time passes. Whatever the cause, it’s critical to understand that younger workers may need more help seeing why their work matters.
  2. 78% of Millennials say that chat apps are an effective means of communicating between teams. Only 63% of Baby Boomers say the same thing. In addition, 54% of Millennials say that these apps are also an effective way of communicating with company leadership, versus 39% of Baby Boomers. In other words, if you want to reach younger workers, you might try messaging them directly via IM.
  3. 62% of Millennials say they’re so swamped with getting day-to-day work done they don’t have time to think beyond their daily to-do list. 60% of Gen Xers and 53% of Boomers feel the same. Feeling swamped might just come with the territory of having to being new to the work environment. Or it might be a sign that Millennials need more mentorship in work management.
  4. 62% of Millennials also consider themselves an accidental project manager — someone who wasn’t formally assigned to manage people but is still tasked with the job. By contrast, 58% of Gen Xers and 53% of Boomers feel the same.
  5. 42% of Millennials feel that their workplace doesn’t foster innovation. Contrast this 38% of Gen Xers and 33% of Boomers. In this same vein, Millennials are more likely than Gen Xers and Boomers to say their productivity would improve if they had more time to think (72% vs. 65% and 58%) and their team would be more successful if all employees were given 4 hours a week to focus entirely on innovation (66% vs. 54% and 48%).
  6. Millennials say they spend only 34% of their work week on their primary job duties. By comparison, Gen Xers say they spend 38% and Boomers say they spend 45%. This is striking because it means that Millennials spend 66% of their week (~25 hours of a 40-hour work week) on secondary tasks.
  7. 42% of Millennials say that a lack of standard workflow processes gets in the way of their work. Baby Boomers put the number at 24%. That’s a big difference, and it reinforces the desire Millennials have for solutions that can help them better manage their workflow. In addition, Millennials and Gen X are more likely than Baby Boomers to say that the primary reason their projects get delayed is that the work isn’t prioritized correctly (39% and 37% vs. 30%).
  8. 44% of Millennials say there will be a day when we’ll no longer have to work to meet our basic needs because automation will do that for us. Compare that to 26% of Boomers. At the same time, Millennials are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to worry that believe that automation might be a double-edged sword. It might help us work better, but may take our jobs in the process.
  9. 51% of Millennials say their team is requesting more tools to manage their work, but their executives are not on board. Contrast that with are more likely than with 46% of Gen Xers and 40% of Baby Boomers.

There’s a clear theme here. No matter how you slice the data above, Millennials are looking for ways to manage modern work so they can innovate and focus on their primary job duties. They’re hopeful about the rise of automation, but wary about what it means for job loss. If experienced leaders provide mentorship on work management best practices coupled with digital work management solutions, they’ll be well positioned to fully integrate young workers into their teams.