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Millennials are worried about job security, but many would still quit over a clash of values

Companies, take notice: More employees than ever would rather look elsewhere than work at a firm they’re not proud of.

Millennials are worried about job security, but many would still quit over a clash of values
[Source Photo: jacoblund/iStock]
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Would you quit your job if you discovered that you and your boss didn’t see eye to eye on social issues? If so, count yourself among a growing cohort of workers who believe their employers’ values should match their own, according to a new survey of employees in the United States and Australia.

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The research, commissioned by software firm Atlassian Corporation and carried out by PwC Australia, reveals that 80% of U.S. workers say companies should be taking action to address society’s problems—that’s up 6 percentage points from the same survey last year—and more employees than ever would rather look elsewhere than work at a firm they’re not proud of.

The findings come from Atlassian’s second annual Return On Action Report, which was released on Monday. They show that younger employees, millennials in particular, are more likely believe that a company’s values should align with their own. Even as 51% of millennial employees surveyed said they were worried about future employment prospects, 60% of those who expressed such concerns still indicated that they would leave a job over a clash of values.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian’s cofounder and co-CEO, says employers should be put on notice: Inaction on social and cultural issues may no longer be a tenable option for companies seeking to attract the best and brightest talent—even though balancing the diverse range of perspectives among employees can be tricky.

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“People have lots of different views,” Cannon-Brookes tells Fast Company. “You can’t cater to every single view and every individual employee, but there is a generalized movement and direction that one must be aware of.”

He cites climate change and racial justice as two issues on which more employees expect the companies they work for to take a firm position. And even though younger employees are more likely to demand such stances from their employers, Cannon-Brookes says this shift in expectations is happening among workers across age groups.

“Last year, people were sort of like, ‘oh, yeah, this is a millennial thing,'” he says. “Actually no. It goes across a huge amount of these demographic groups that people are willing to make a change, or that they’re consciously considering these facets when choosing a job.”

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[Atlassian]
The survey adds to a growing body of research showing how workplace expectations have shifted since the start of the pandemic. Here are some of the other key findings:

  • 67% of U.S. respondents said companies should be as concerned with their social impact as they are with their bottom line.
  • 77% said companies should take responsibility for their environmental impact.
  • 45% of U.S. respondents “would consider changing jobs to get more access to remote work.” For millennials, that jumps to 56%.
  • 38% said they would quit a job “if an employer acted in a way that didn’t align with their values.” That’s up 6 percentage points from last year.

[Atlassian]
Wellness and work-life balance also factored prominently in the survey results, with 64% of respondents saying they would “consider turning down a job promotion to preserve their mental health.” Younger workers were significantly more likely to say they had experienced distress over the last year: 29% of Gen Z workers, compared to 26% of millennials, 20% of Gen X, and 16% of baby boomers.

“Mental health and well-being have jumped massively up employees’ priorities,” Cannon-Brookes says. “Things like career goals have really taken a back seat, as you’d expect. . . . Obviously a lot of employees have had mental health issues and distress over the past 12 months.”

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You can check out the full survey results here.

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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