What Do Millennials Fear?

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FearLast summer, the INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute (EMI), the HEAD Foundation, and employer branding firm Universum teamed up to conduct what these groups call the largest independent study ever conducted on millennials.” Surveying more than 16,000 millennials from across the globe, the study delves into a variety of topics, including millennials’ fears, hopes, beliefs, and desires. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring the results of this massive survey in a six-part series. Part Two will focus on the second piece in this study, “Our Greatest Fears.

Last we heard, the millennials were a “misunderstood generation.” Now, it seems, would be a good time to start trying to understand them — and what better way to do that than delve into their greatest fears?

Millennials Don’t Fear Their Standards of Living Will Be Low

Perhaps you’d expect millennials to have bleak outlooks on what their futures may hold. I know I would, given that studies show many of them are earning less than their parents did at the same age. Some research has even said the millennials may be “the first generation in modern history to have a lower standard of living than their parents’ generation had at the same stage of the life cycle.”

However, according to Universum et al.’s findings, 71 percent of millennials worldwide believe they will enjoy a higher standard of living than their parents enjoyed. Is that just wishful thinking?

“This is very much dependent on geography,” says Claes Peyron, CEO of Employer Branding Academy by Universum. “If you are a millennial in an emerging market, it is obvious that you will expect to have higher standards of living than your parents.”

Indeed, millennials in emerging markets were “more positive about their futures,” according to the study. For example, 85 percent of millennials in Nigeria strongly felt they would have higher standards of living than their parents have, compared to millennials in Western Europe, only 20 percent of whom strongly felt they would have higher standards of living than their parents have.

Still, that doesn’t mean millennials in “mature markets” overwhelmingly feel they are doomed to lower standards of living than their parents have. According to Peyron, a “high proportion of millennials in mature markets” also expect to have higher standards of living.

“I don’t think that this necessarily is wishful thinking, but certainly a sign of the positive outlook that the millennials hold in general,” Peyron says.

What Millennials Do Fear, However, Is Stagnation

Most of the millennial generation’s worries center around opportunities for career advancement and development: 40 percent said they feared getting stuck with no development opportunities, and 32 percent said they feared they wouldn’t meet their career goalsGreatest Fears

Asked if employers should be concerned about millennials’ career-related fears, Linda Hugod, senior adviser at the Employer Branding Academy by Universum, answers an emphatic “yes.”

“This is an impatient generation where many are looking for continuous development,” Hugod says. “Employers need to recognize this and have more open and more frequent dialogues with their millennials about their individual goals and dreams and what is required to reach them. It’s going to be a lot about communication and flexibility, from both sides.”

A lot of millennials also fear they will not find careers that match their personalities (32 percent). But, Hugod says, millennials do have the power to find the careers that are right for them.

“First, get to know yourself,” Hugod says. “If you are not certain about what your strengths and key personality traits are, ask your friends and family and possibly take a personality test. Once you have clear picture of who you really are and what gets you going, ask employers to describe their cultures. This will allow you to find the right match.”

Next up: Part three: “Support Me, But Don’t Tell Me What to Do”

By Matthew Kosinski