Ambition is the driving force for Millennial professionals


  • 91% of Millennials say the opportunity for rapid career progression is one of the most important things about their job
  • More than half of employers fail to provide clear guidelines for progression
  • Employers use of technology, a social workplace and salary and bonuses were also key factors for Millennials

Original research from Robert Walters into the working habits and attitudes of Millennial (born 1980-1999) professionals has revealed that opportunities for rapid career progression are their top priority at work.

Career progression

The research, which surveyed employers and professionals from a range of fields revealed that this desire for career progression is central to attracting and retaining Millennial employees, as well as keeping them engaged in their role.

53% of Millennials reported that they had been disappointed by a lack of training and development in a new job and 68% cited a clear path for career progression as the most important factor in keeping employees engaged.

However this ambition was not always seen positively by employers, 69% felt that demand for rapid career progression was the most common cause of intergenerational conflict at work.

Uncertainty in the current economic climate

During the economic downturn many Millennials were forced to compromise on job expectations, 53% took a lower salary than they had hoped for and 31% took work outside their preferred sector or discipline. This has shaped Millennial attitudes towards their career, and as the economic situation stabilises, many are ready to progress to more senior roles with more generous compensation packages.

One in four said that being offered a more generous compensation package elsewhere would be the most likely reason they would change jobs.

Millennials place high value on transparency from their employer regarding career progress, with 71% strongly agreeing that employers should make the criteria necessary to achieve promotions or bonuses clear. In contrast, just 40% of employers said that they do this.

Technology in the workplace

Another priority for Millennial professionals was finding an employer who embraced technology, with 53% saying that they would be more likely to take a job with an employer who used the same technology that they do themselves. 42% said that employers should always seek to implement the latest technologies even if the cost is high.

A social workplace

Millennials were also shown to value a more social workplace, with 30% saying that a social outing with their colleagues was the most important part of their induction at a new job. 75% of Millennials considered an engaging and fun workplace an important or very important part of their job.

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager at Robert Walters South Africa, commented:

"The research has given us vital insights into the perceptions of Millennial professionals themselves and how they are perceived by their colleagues and employers. Millennial professionals are ambitious and are anxious to get their careers on track. This ambition has the potential to be a source of conflict but, if properly engaged with, Millennials can be among the most engaged and energetic employees in an organisation."

For further information, or a full copy of the white paper please contact Monique Miller on or +27 (0)11 881 2416

Hiring advice