New Research Busts Some Old Millennial Myths

Here's what we're all getting wrong when it comes to hiring and retaining millennials.
By: | May 24, 2019 • 3 min read

It’s practically become a mantra within the HR world: Millennials are just different. They see the working world from a different perspective than their older coworkers. As a result, the conventional thinking goes, employers need to pony up all sorts of new perks, promises and propositions to land and keep millennial talent.

Well, it might be time to put the brakes on that type of thinking. Based on results from predictive analytics research done by the Mercer Workforce Sciences Institute, the previous thinking on millennials’ wants and needs could be askew.


For example, popular stereotypes promote the notion that millennials don’t care much about base pay and position on the company org chart (in fact, they’re thought to disdain org charts in general). Instead, they are “mission focused,” prefer workplace variety, great work relationships, continuous learning and entrepreneurial opportunity. But Mercer Institute’s predictive modeling analysis surprisingly reports that not may not be the case at all.

The conundrum for employers is: What if the stereotypes are based more on speculation and rumor, rather than fact? It’s an important issue because many organizations are responding to the commonly held view of millennials by trying to tailor their employee value propositions to those oft-repeated unique needs and values.

Mercer tapped a large proprietary data set to empirically test millennial values and the assumption that they differ from older workers. As it turned out, many of the millennial stereotypes are not supported by Mercer’s results. For one thing, millennials say they really do care about base pay. Mercer found that the higher that base pay is as a percentage of total compensation, the stronger the retention effect on millennials.