What do millennials love most? Social media? Boxed wine? Food trucks? Memes? All of the above are a safe bet, but believe it or not, neither is the answer we’re lookin’ for. While it’s hard to beat binge-watching Friends while eating food-truck tacos, drinking boxed rose, and tagging friends in Instagram memes all at the same time, the one thing that really tops the millennial priority list gets a lot less attention than it deserves. It turns out that millennials, as much as any other generation, love the idea of job security (not where you thought we were going, huh?).
Despite being (often) regarded as a generation of flaky, job-hopping free birds, millennials really value jobs that make them feel secure. In a 2017 study by ManpowerGroup, 87% of millennials said that job security was a serious priority when looking for employment. In another 2016 study by Economic Innovation Group, a large plurality of those studied said that the best way to advance your career is to stay with one company, and work your way up the ladder (compared to moving from job to job or starting your own business). Perhaps the whole ‘millennial entrepreneur’ thang is actually a bit of an anomaly…
Job security is kind of a big deal across both the public and private sector, but the added perks that come with a career in public service (student loan forgiveness, pension plans, etc.) make it that much more pressing for government and social service employees. A recent study of government workers conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts showed that job security was the #1 factor for millennials when deciding to work for the government, and that two-thirds anticipated working for their current employer until they retire. Beyond feeling secure, these millennial government employees also seem to be pretty dang happy right where they are: 95% were proud to work for their employer (aww, shucks).
This isn’t to say that a number of young people wouldn’t jump ship if given the opportunity to run their own million-dollar company (who wouldn’t?), but we can’t all be Mark Zuckerberg. The economy today just doesn’t allow millennials the security or capital they need to take big job risks, and unfortunately, their generation is plagued by more debt than ever. Millennials also have very little faith that solutions to their problems will come from traditional institutions; for example, in the ManpowerGroup study, 72% said they have only some or very little faith that banks and/or Corporate America will solve their current problems. The task of finding financial security now and in the future rests solely on their shoulders, a fact that young employees are all too aware of.
A growing concern about the security of their retirement is yet another driver behind the search for job security among the millennial generation, as 79% of those in the Economic Innovation Group study expressed concern about having enough to live on when they retire. Here in Colorado, 44% of the millennials studied by the National Institute on Retirement Security (which comprised both the public and private sector) said they feel unprepared, frightened, or concerned about preparing for retirement; what’s more, this percentage was higher than that for Coloradans aged 55+ who felt the same way. Though they had little faith in the solvency of Social Security, these Colorado participants also felt very strongly (83% agreed) that traditional pensions are a driver of retirement security. Both public and private sector workers supported pensions for the state’s workforce, and 78% believed this benefit should be made available to all workers. In fact, those surveyed felt so strongly about the idea of a retirement safety net, that 65% were willing to sacrifice a salary increase in exchange for guaranteed income in retirement.
Though they may love spending their dough on things like avocado toast, millennials don’t need to be old to be financially wise. Their growing awareness about job and retirement security, paired with their desire for consistency in the workplace, is making them better fit than ever to tackle their financial goals. Give ‘em a little job security, and they might just be able to beat all the economic odds stacked against them (now there’s something to make a meme about).