Millennials Say Yes, Culture is Important, but Give Me the Money

Millennials are committed to “the why” behind their work, a strong culture, and open, honest leadership, but organizations that hold back on paying them well are making a major mistake, an analysis of Deloitte data suggests.

Numerous studies over the last several years reflect the strong values of the Millennial generation, and at least one showed that Millennials would even take a pay cut to work for an organization that’s a better fit for them. However, when it comes to retention, money matters more than companies think it does. Compensation, according to a the most recent Global Millennial survey by Deloitte, is the major reason nearly half the Millennial respondents would leave a job within the next two years. The number who would leave for a better match with culture, values or social impact is lower – a consistent finding since before the pandemic, according to the Big 4 firm.

“This by no means suggests that culture and social purpose are not important for Millennials at work,” Deloitte researchers write. “However, it is important to acknowledge that attitudes toward work are not monolithic and attraction drivers may not be the same as retention drivers. What’s more, even when organizations do live up to their promises of social action, these factors alone may not be enough to compensate for low pay.”

Unsatisfactory pay is contributing to the Great Resignation, and employers are pressured to pay more. Millennials are at a stage in life where they need it. They were hurt badly by the unemployment during the Great Recession, and high-priced housing and overwhelming credit card and student loan debt is a burden now. COVID cranked up anxiety about uncertainty and the need for a financial cushion, Deloitte says.

Ignore these factors at your own peril, the study suggests, as Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. “For now, it seems that alongside culture, values and social impact, the value of the paycheck is not to be discounted.”


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