What millennials want from work

Contradicting many myths about millennials and work, a new Allianz survey has found that most desire stability and security in their career path. An Allianz survey on millennials has established that 80 percent of American millennials prefer work that provides this. In India, it is 75 percent and in the UK, Germany and China, it is 70 percent.

This contradicts an impression of millennials as embracing the gig economy. About 15 percent do enjoy the freedom and flexibility the gig economy is said to offer, but the clear preference is for permanent positions and the benefits enjoyed by the generation of their parents.

“Millennials are sometimes portrayed as opportunistic job hoppers lacking in company loyalty,” says Dominik Hahn, Global Head of People Attraction at Allianz. “The survey clearly shows this is unfair. If their behavior contradicts their expressed desires, then it is because of circumstances and not preferences.”

Hahn explains that millennials are responding to the changing reality of work, where a person can no longer rely on an employer for an entire career. If careers are becoming less predictable, then individuals need to take charge of their career.

The Allianz Millennials: Work, Life & Satisfaction survey was conducted with 1000 employed millennials (aged 18-36) in each of five following countries: China, India, Germany, the UK and U.S.1 Traditionalist millennials (see definitions of career types in the first article in this series) tend to be older than their peers and, in the case of the U.S. and Germany, higher earners.

In the UK, Free Spirits are marginally more likely to be in the highest income brackets. Seekers tend to be younger and earn less in all countries surveyed – characteristics of people entering the labor market and yet to find their place.

The largest distinction between “traditional” and “new” careers is in terms of marriage and family. Traditionalists are more likely to be married and, especially in China, the UK and the U.S., to have children. At least in those countries, traditional careers seem more suited to starting a family or, alternatively, people who have stability and security are more likely to start a family – which is hardly surprising.

Hahn says firms looking to recruit millennials may want to take note of the differences in attitudes to work. “Those with or aspiring to have a traditional career see work as far more central to their life and seem more motivated,” he comments. “Of millennials pursing a traditional career, over 80 percent in India and over 70 percent in Germany and the U.S. believe work is a central part of their life.”

Unsurprisingly, people pursuing a traditional career also score highest in terms of work ethic. For example, U.S. Traditionalists (79%) show the greatest willingness to excel at work even if that means overtime. This can also be seen in self-reported working hours. For instance, Traditionalists work on average more than six hours per week than Free Spirits in the U.S.

What millennials want from work is one of the most striking results of the survey. When asked to rate 12 options concerning work in scale of importance, three items were unequivocally selected in all Western countries as the most important: millennials want jobs that leaves time for other things in life, where they can use their skills and abilities, and where they can acquire new skills.

Above all, millennials are looking for meaningful work. From the responses, Traditionalists are more likely to seek challenging work associated with high status and income and where there are chances of advancement.

Chinese Traditionalists (60%) are less interested in challenging work than those in other countries. Overall, Chinese millennials ranked challenging careers as their second last priority. Traditional workplace incentives, such as career advancement and income, have the strongest resonance amongst Indian millennials. 

Millennials love remote work, but are torn about the open plan office. In China, India, the UK and the U.S., remote work is considered an enhancement to work and the flexibility it offers outweighs the risks in terms of work encroaching on personal life.

In Germany, there are stronger reservations regarding the benefits of remote work and its impact on private life. Unlike millennials in other countries, German millennials reveal a strong dislike of open plan offices. German millennials are also the least likely to consider moving abroad for work.

In general, millennials are satisfied with their jobs. Eighty percent of employed millennials in India and the U.S.and 75% in Germany and the United Kingdom are at least somewhat satisfied with their current job. China is an exception  only slightly more than one out of two Chinese millennials report being at least somewhat satisfied with their work.

Job satisfaction varies by career type. In India, Germany and the UK, the Attached (those who believe they have finally found an employer offering security and stability) are the most satisfied (98% in India, 94% in the UK, 88% in Germany). In Western countries, Seekers (those who have not yet found a career home) exhibit the lowest share of job satisfaction, an indication that their job-hopping is due to necessity and not preference. Only 5 percent of Seekers in China, 8 percent in Germany and 10 percent in the UK are extremely satisfied with their current job.

In the U.S., the chasm between Traditionalists and Free Spirits is significant. Whereas 44 percent of people with a traditional career report being extremely satisfied with their current job, this figure drops to 19 percent among Free Spirits .

This difference may be a reflection on the job market in the U.S. As reported in the first article in this series, American millennials had the strongest preference for traditional careers of all countries surveyed.

1. Chinese and Indian respondents were predominantly well educated and based in major cities. Given their background, the data cannot be considered representative of millennials in general in these two countries.

As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward Looking Statement disclaimer:


Dominik Hahn
Allianz SE
Phone: +49 89 3800 18231

Send email

May 09, 2024

Navigating troubled waters: risk challenges for shipping in 2024

read more

May 08, 2024

The Neptune Tower puts on athletic gear for Paris 2024

read more

May 07, 2024

Nearly half of Americans expect slow transition into retirement

read more