‘Passion, drive and determination’

For the most part, young professionals in metro Milwaukee are highly educated, use social media, prefer to live downtown, are divided politically, value teamwork and collaboration and have a positive view of life in Milwaukee, according to a new survey conducted by BizTimes Milwaukee.

BizTimes Milwaukee gathered insight about the personal and professional motivations of those in Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials or Echo Boomers. The survey was distributed to those born between 1981 and 1993 who are involved in FUEL Milwaukee, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Urban League of Young Professionals or NEWaukee. About 600 people responded.

Almost all of those surveyed are employed, but more than half expect to be working for a different employer five years from now.

“My generation has passion, drive, and the determination to succeed,” one survey respondent said.

Young professional members of Generation Y in metro Milwaukee are highly educated, but about a third of them don’t believe a college degree is worth the cost of tuition. More than half of them have outstanding college loans, to boot.

Two-thirds of them prefer to live downtown, and about half of their employers allow telecommuting.

Organized religion is not important to almost 60 percent of the young professionals surveyed, while the arts are at least somewhat important to the quality of life of nearly every respondent.

Politically, 40 percent of the young professionals surveyed identify themselves as a Democrat, 27 percent as Independent, 24 percent as Republican and 7 percent as Libertarian.

A whopping 96.8 percent of the survey respondents use social media, and they’re experts at it – 67 percent of Millennials have trained a baby boomer on social media or technology in the workplace.

That connectivity means they are on the clock 24/7. About 72 percent of those surveyed check work emails after hours.

Teamwork and collaboration are very important to Generation Y in the workplace. But just more than half of them feel they are receiving sufficient mentoring at work.

“We need some direction, and some mentoring, but if you provide us with the bigger picture about where you want to go, we’ll be creative and hard-working in helping the organization get there,” one respondent said.

When choosing an employer, about 32 percent ranked opportunities for advancement in the company as their most important factor. About 26 percent said competitive salary and benefits were most important, followed by workplace flexibility (telecommuting, summer hours, flex time, etc.) and the mission of the company.

“We work when we’re not at work and you need to trust us to do so,” one survey respondent said.

“Flexibility is probably the most important thing a company can do to improve morale across the board,” another survey respondent said.

Those who chose “other” as their most important factor in choosing an employer listed factors like the workplace culture and how they will fit into it, alignment with future career goals and a combination of the choices.

Community service is an important part of Millennials’ lives, and it’s even better if the company gets involved. More than two-thirds of young professionals that responded to the survey say they volunteer.

“Millennials are often thought to be self-centered and selfish, which isn’t untrue, but that doesn’t define our generation,” one survey respondent said. “I wish that older generations would take time to encourage our passions rather than admonishing our faults.”

About three-quarters of the respondents believe there is racial and gender equality in their workplace. They are an equality-driven generation, with one respondent saying: “I wish employers were more welcoming of the LGBT business community. I have an accepting employer but other friends in the area don’t and our generation is one that values equality.”

The young professionals’ evaluation of Milwaukee is overwhelmingly positive, with 95 percent of survey respondents saying it a good or exceptional place to live, work and play.

Working with Baby Boomers is challenging for some young professionals, with communication styles listed as the number one hurdle by survey respondents. Different ideas about work/life balance was the second most cited challenge. But a number of respondents cited no challenges at all with working in intergenerational workplaces.

BizTimes also asked Millennials to list something they wish employers knew about their generation. Some of their responses included:

“We are very hard workers and understand how to adapt.”

“Although Millennials embrace the use of technology, including text messaging and emails, we are not lazy or opposed to interaction with coworkers or customers.”

“Many of us are starting to realize that the expectations of the baby boomers (going to college, buying a house right away, starting a family, etc.) may not be possible now. Many of us are following a different route because it’s what we can do faced with crushing student debt and political gridlock.”

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