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GoodHire Survey Finds Millennials Are Most Fulfilled By Work, But Still Exhibit Signs of Restlessness

90% of Millennials favor a 4-day workweek — the most of any generation — and nearly 50% expect to change their job in the next year.

GoodHire, an industry leader in background check technology, has released “The Meaning of Work in 2021 A Generational Divide.” The report presents data derived from a survey of 4,000 American workers — equally divided among four generations of working Americans on how Baby Boomers (57-66 years), Generation X (41-56), Millennials (25-40), and Generation Z (18-24) view work in 2021. It includes a number of striking findings, and reveals that while the majority of millennials (57%) say they are happy at work, they are also the generation most likely to leave for higher pay (46%).

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The report confirms some widely-held preconceptions about each generation: 60% of Millennials found great meaning and purpose in their jobs. The Baby Boomers (44%) and Generation Z (41%), by contrast, found less meaning and purpose from their work. About half (51%) of Generation X respondents reported finding meaning or purpose in their work.

Despite these figures, Millennials are also the generation most eager to switch to a four-day workweek, indicating their satisfaction at work hasn’t stopped them from supporting big changes. Millennials are no longer the ‘kid generation.’ They have fully entered the workforce, and their attitudes will determine the shape of American jobs for years to come.

“The next immediate evolution in our working lives appears to be the push for a four day working week,” GoodHire’s Chief Operating Officer Max Wesman said. “One could argue that hybrid and remote work options give professional employees the space to be their own boss, taking more control over managing their day away from managers and bringing a desire to find an improved work-life balance. That’s something employers should be taking away from ‘The Great Resignation’,” he said.

Mike Grossman, CEO of Inflection (parent company of GoodHire), who sits on several boards including Inflection, points out that he’s had “a lot of discussions” at the board level as to what a company’s approach to workplace structure and employee happiness should look like.

Commenting on the survey, Grossman says, “The results reflect where people are in terms of life stage. Baby Boomers have a strong bias to going back into the office, whereas Gen X and Millennials are more oriented toward staying remote. Gen Z, by contrast, is more receptive to being in the office — they’re younger, more social and want to meet people. Leaders are factoring in a lot of data points, not the least of which is how their employees feel. At Inflection, we’ve transitioned to a fully remote workforce because it works for both our people and our business.”

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Another notable finding in The Meaning of Work in 2021 — A Generational Divide is that just 48% of all generations surveyed say they are very happy at work. Moreover, three of the four groups  Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z  identified dissatisfaction with their boss as their biggest gripe at work. Boomers’ biggest source of dissatisfaction, on the other hand, is inadequate pay. 19% of Boomers, 36% of Gen X, 46% of Millennials, and 34% of Gen Z say they plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, with all generations identifying better pay as their number one reason for planning a job switch.

Overall, the survey results suggest that the working generations, though they differ in some key respects, have more in common than not. A large majority of each group said they are generally happy at work, but as the survey questions became more specific, a series of common complaints emerged. A majority of each group express a desire for a better work-life balance, while the three youngest groups share a dissatisfaction with their bosses and a desire for more work-from-home opportunities.

“The economy changed radically in 2020 and 2021, so it should come as no surprise that ideas which may have once been outlandish  such as permanent remote work or a four-day workweek  are popular among all age groups. Whether these desires become reality, permanently changing the work landscape, or whether the current status quo stabilizes, one thing is clear: today’s employees are feeling their strength and reevaluating their priorities. Smart employers must be aware of their workers’ changing attitudes going forward,” Wesman said.

“This survey data can be used to help teams adapt their recruiting and hiring strategies to meet the needs of a multigenerational candidate pool that views work differently. We’re encouraged by those companies that are recruiting new candidates to factor these changes into their background screening and hiring processes,” added Wesman.

As employers navigate the new hiring landscape, they can turn to a trusted background check provider that makes it easy to screen candidates in every US jurisdiction. GoodHire’s background check platform features fast turnaround times, built-in compliance tools, US-based customer support, and an intuitive mobile-optimized candidate workflow.

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