Job loyalty still exists; to retain Millennials focus on growth opportunities, work-life balance and supportive bosses

A new survey of more than 1,100 young adults aged 22-35 by the Boston College Center for Work & Family (BCCWF) explores how young adults navigate their careers and lives.

How Millennials Navigate Their Careers: Young Adult Views on Work, Life and Success provides much needed insight into the aspirations and desires of the newest generation in the professional workforce. As Millennials are becoming the largest generation in our workplaces today, it is essential to understand what drives them to select an employer and what aspects of the employee experience foster their growth and loyalty to an organization.

“There were many interesting finding from our study,” shared lead author Brad Harrington. “One of the key takeaways was how important career navigation skills were for young adults - knowing their career goals, what they had to offer employers, and how to communicate their career goals effectively. These navigation skills were highly linked to job satisfaction, work effort, and other important people metrics. Few universities or corporations invest in teaching these skills to their people. But they are critically important for employees and their employer.”

Professor Harrington previewed the report findings for 100 corporate and academic partners at the Boston College Center for Work & Family 25th Anniversary Conference and Celebration on Thursday, November 5, 2015.

KPMG LLP, the sponsor of the Boston College study, is one of the world’s leading professional services firms and widely recognized for being a great place to work and build a career. Currently more than 59% of KPMG’s 27,000 U.S. professionals are millennials and the firm expects to hire approximately 6,500 millennial-aged employees in the coming year.

“Recruiting and retaining top talent remains a priority for KPMG, especially in a competitive market where change is constant,” said Sue Townsen, National Managing Partner of HR, Diversity and Corporate Responsibility at KPMG. “The results of this Boston College study align with what we’re seeing in our own organization – millennials are high performers looking for the guidance and support necessary to succeed. This survey debunks the popular notion that millennials are ‘job-hoppers’ and reinforces the fact that these individuals want to work for organizations that provide opportunities for growth and flexibility.”

Highlights from How Millennials Navigate Their Careers: Young Adult Views on Work, Life and Success include:

  • Job loyalty still exists

Much has been written about the “fact” that employee loyalty is a thing of the past and not a value held by most Millennials. In our study, however, the majority (60%) of the young adults said that they plan to stay in their jobs for some time. At a rate of more than 2-1, study participants said they believed that staying with their employers was their preferred strategy to advancement.

  • Millennials redefine career success

Six measures stood out as most important to how young adults measure their career success including in rank order (percentages based on those items rated “extremely important”): Work-life balance (44%), Job satisfaction (43%), Salary/salary growth rate (35%), Achievement of personal goals (27%), Work achievements (25%), Development of new skills (24%).

  • Life trumps work

The importance of “life over work” was reinforced by study participants. The majority felt that their lives outside of work were much more important to their sense of identity than their careers. Although a very high percentage of respondents wanted to take on increasingly challenging tasks, develop their expertise, and advance up the career ladder, few (approx. 20%) were willing to pursue these goals at the expense of time with their families and their personal lives.

  • Gender roles shift

Surprisingly, 51% of men indicated they would consider staying home if their spouse’s income was adequate, compared to 44% of women. This runs contrary to what many people might guess to be the most likely “gendered response” to this question and suggests that it may be time to drop our assumptions about both men’s and women’s roles in family life, and their desire to remain engaged in the workforce after having children.

  • A supportive spouse impacts career and life satisfaction

Participants who had discussions about career/life goals with their partners at least monthly scored significantly higher on life satisfaction than those who had conversations only once or twice a year. Support from a spouse/partner also had a positive effect on job satisfaction. For many young professionals who are juggling two careers and a family, looking at career and life decisions as a team appears to be a very important determinant of satisfaction both at work and at home.

  • Opportunities for growth both attract and retain Millennials

Career growth opportunities rated at the very top of criteria for the selection of an employer. When considering reasons for leaving an employer, the top two cited reasons were to make more money/have better financial opportunities and to be able to move forward in their careers.

  • Solid career navigation skills lead to job satisfaction

Participants who rated themselves higher on career navigation skills were more satisfied with their jobs. Those who were more satisfied with their jobs scored higher on work-effort and intention to stay with their employers and also were happier with their careers and their lives overall.

  • Managers and culture matter

Managers seem to have a considerable impact on Millennials’ job satisfaction. Participants who agreed that their managers cared about their well-being were significantly more satisfied with their jobs than those who disagreed. Encouraging and celebrating long work hours may be damaging to job satisfaction, which in turn may reduce work-effort.

For additional information, access the full report at

The Boston College Center for Work & Family is a global leader in helping organizations create effective workplaces that support and develop healthy and productive employees.

Boston College Media Contact:
Jennifer Sabatini Fraone — 617-552-2862, jennifer(dot)fraone(at)bc(dot)edu

KPMG Media Contact:
Bridget Carroll – 610-639-9020, bccarroll(at)kpmg(dot)com

This entry was posted in Employer's Perspective.

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