Boomers and Millennials on the Job: How Do You Compare?

I just read a new study funded by American Express and Millennial Branding. It was all about comparing and contrasting young twenty-something employees and their managers. You may be surprise at how they saw many things alike, and others, well, not so much. I have copied a summary of the report below:

According to the study, both managers and Gen Y’s are on the same page when it comes to workplace success. However, while Gen Y workers have a positive view of their managers, believing that their managers can offer experience (59%), wisdom (41%), and a willingness to mentor (33%), managers have an overall negative view of their Gen Y employees. They feel said employees have unrealistic compensation expectations (51%), a poor work ethic (47%), and are easily distracted (46%).

On March 12th, 2012, Lightspeed Research collected survey responses from 1,000 Gen Y employees (22 to 29 year olds) and 1,000 managers across U.S. companies of all sizes, in various industries. The study examined the criteria managers look for when promoting, their impressions of Gen Y, how they view intrapreneurship and lateral moves and the role of social media in the workplace.


1. The skills managers look for when promoting Gen Y. Managers and Gen Y’s both agree that soft skills are the most important, followed by hard skills and then digital/tech savvy skills (social media). 61% of managers and 65% of Gen Y’s believe that soft skills are the most important. Both managers and Gen Y’s agree that being a subject matter expert is important to career advancement. 65% of managers and 66% of Gen Y’s say it’s either important or very important. The most important skills that managers are looking for when promoting millennials is the ability to prioritize work (87%), a positive attitude (86%) and teamwork skills (86%).

2. Managers are supportive of Gen Y’s entrepreneurial ambitions. Managers are willing to support entrepreneurial Gen Y’s who want to chase business opportunities but fewer Gen Y’s are interested in that pursuit. 58% of managers are either very willing or extremely willing to support Gen Y’s but only 40% of Gen Y’s are very interested or extremely interested in taking on new business opportunities.

3. Managers are willing to support Gen Y’s who want to move around. 73% of managers are very willing or extremely willing to support Gen Y’s who want to move within the corporation but fewer than half of Gen Y’s surveyed (48%) are either very interested or extremely interested in making the move.

4. Social media’s role in and out of the workplace. Gen Y employees feel that they should own the rights to their own social media profiles even if they use them during work hours. Fewer managers agree that their Gen Y’s should. Out of the managers, 54% said that Gen Y’s should have the rights to the profiles, yet 69% of Gen Y’s said they should have them. Only 16% of managers and 17% of Gen Y’s view using social media profiles to actively contribute to online industry conversations as either very important or extremely important.

5. The manager and Gen Y relationship on social media. When it comes to Facebook, only 14% of managers are either very comfortable or extremely comfortable being friends with Gen Y’s, while 24% of Gen Y’s said the same. When it comes to connecting on LinkedIn, 32% of Gen Y’s and 24% of their managers are either very comfortable or extremely comfortable. Gen Y’s (38%) are more comfortable making social media introductions than managers (19%).

6. Gen Y’s don’t get enough feedback at work and want mentors. Both managers (48%) and Gen Y’s (46%) give and receive annual performance reviews. 20% of managers and 19% of Gen Y’s don’t give or receive any type of formal review. 53% of Gen Y’s said that a mentoring relationship would help them become a better and more productive contributor to their company.

7. In-person meetings and email trump technology at work. Despite new technologies like Skype and social networks, traditional forms of communication are still the most common ways that both managers and Gen Y’s interact. 66% of managers say that in-person meetings are their preferred way of communicating with Gen Y’s and 62% of employees feel the same way about communication with their managers. The second most popular way of communicating between managers and Gen Y’s was email. 26% of managers and 25% of Gen Y’s prefer using email.

8. It takes time to become a manager so Gen Y’s have to be patient. More managers say that it takes at least four years or more to become a manager than Gen Y’s. 75% of managers say four years or more and 66% of Gen Y’s say the same. 32% of managers say it takes eight years or more and 27% of Gen Y’s say the same.

9. Advanced degrees aren’t required for advancement. 43% of managers say that an advanced degree can be an advantage but not required, while a mere 10% say it’s required, which is probably true for certain industries and/or professions. As for Gen Y’s, 60% say an advanced degree is either strongly recommended or recommended but not required. 22% of Gen Y’s think that it’s required.

Growing Leaders is now engaging workplaces to help them bridge the gap between generations and these youngest team members from Generation iY. If you’d like help, email Ted Weyn: [email protected].


Boomers and Millennials on the Job: How Do You Compare?