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60% of millennials find purpose at work, but many are still looking to quit, survey finds

Sixty percent of millennials find great meaning in their jobs, making them the largest demographic to feel such fulfillment, according to a new survey.

60% of millennials find purpose at work, but many are still looking to quit, survey finds
[Source Images: Ponomariova_Maria/iStock]

Snigdha Sur runs the media company The Juggernaut, which she started in 2019. She appreciates the autonomy to solve problems on her own and is passionate about diversifying media, though she admits it’s hard to fundraise. The 31-year-old New York City resident now has more than 120 freelancers and overall loves what she does.

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She’s among the 60% of millennials who find great meaning and purpose in their jobs, making them the largest demographic to feel this sense of fulfillment, according to a new survey by GoodHire, the background check technology company.

That’s in contrast with Gen Xers’ 51%, Baby Boomers’ 44%, and Gen Z’s 41%.

“I feel like my 20s was a lot about learning for learning’s sake and getting good on the hard skills,” Sur says. “There’s a Venn diagram of things you love to do, things the world needs and things you can get paid for. You ideally want to be at the center.”

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Despite millennials’ positive feelings about work, this cohort is looking for an exit strategy. Forty-six percent say they plan to job hunt in the next 12 months versus 36% of Gen Z, 34% of Gen Z, and 19% of Boomers. All four age groups cite higher salary as their top reasons.

The contradiction makes sense, according to Lindsey Pollak, author of The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace, because millennials experienced two of the biggest downturns in recent history once they were already in the workplace—the Great Recession and the global economic woes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the first generation to really start their careers in an era of social media and it’s so, so very visible on social media what people are contributing to the world. You can see people with a purpose. You can see people achieving big things,” she explains. “That has a lot to do with their desire to align their personal brand or their personal image with the image of things they believe in.”

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At the same time, Pollak points out, millennials are at a time in their lives when they need the finances to hit certain milestones, such as having children and buying a home. A third factor to consider is work flexibility.

Those eyeing the door include tech recruiter Yesenia Estrada. The 27-year-old Chicagoan credits her employer with letting her work from home and providing a steady paycheck, but aspires to follow her relatives into real estate or open her own cannabis business.

“Having to answer to someone or attending pointless corporate meetings, sometimes I feel I have to be glued to my computer, even though it’s in my house,” she explains.

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Estrada adds that she’d like to quit in more than a year, so she can save enough money to live her entrepreneurial dream.

To Pollack, it comes down to millennials needing to decide whether purpose, cash or flexibility is most crucial to them.

“You have to figure out for you what is your top priority is, what is your top decision maker,” she says. “The trifecta of factors that are important to many members of this generation is coming to a head right now. That’s why we have the Great Resignation.”

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