Millennials Plan to Work Past Retirement Age, Revamp Skills and Take More Time Off, Says Report

Posted By Terri Williams on June 15, 2016 at 9:09 am
Millennials Plan to Work Past Retirement Age, Revamp Skills and Take More Time Off, Says Report

While many Baby Boomers are counting the years, months, weeks, and days until they can stop working, most Millennials plan to work long after they reach the age of retirement. And that’s just one of the differences between this and previous generations.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. And their numbers will only increase as millions of students graduate from college during the next three years. So it would be to everyone’s advantage to understand their collective perspective regarding the workplace.

“Millennial Careers 2020 Vision,” a recent report by the Manpower Group, provides a wealth of information regarding the Millennial mindset. Below are selected excerpts:

What do you plan on doing for the rest of your life?

As the years go by, millennials may have a change of heart, but for now, well over half are planning to work beyond today’s retirement age. This is how long American Millennials plan to work:

66% Past the age of 65
32% Past the age of 70
12% Until the day they die


Traditional vs. non-traditional work

While 75% of Millennials with jobs are currently working full-time, half are open to non-traditional forms of employment in the future. Their responses were as follows when asked, “How would you consider working in the future?”

82% Full-time
35% Part-time
41% Self-employed
31% Freelance/contract
22% Casual
18% Seasonal
18% Portfolio (2+ jobs)
14% Gig (e.g. Uber, Task Rabbit)


Job security

When asked, “What does job security mean to you?” it’s obvious that the definition of this term is changing:

39% Secure job for the long-term
24% Job skills that match market need
19% Maintain standard of living
10% Income security
5% Contacts to help me find employment
3% Redundancy/Severance pay/Benefits if I’m let go


Next level preparation

When asked what it takes to reach the next job level, most Millennials understand (perhaps better than previous generations) that “sticking around long enough” or “good fortune” won’t produce the desired results:

47% Perform well in current job
45% Improve skills and qualifications
36% More experience through new roles or assignments
32% Good connections
25% Seek opportunities
22% Strong relationship with a manager, mentor, sponsor
16% Good fortune
15% Stay around long enough
11% Meaningful career conversations with manager
2% I see no prospect for advancement


And 69% are willing to spend their own time and/or money to improve their skills.

Significant time off (more than 4 consecutive weeks)

Among Millennial respondents, women were more likely to take a career break to care for other people:

Caring for others Women Men
Birth of my children 66% 32%
Childcare 23% 10%
Care for parents/aging relatives 32% 19%
Support partner in their job 11% 13%
Volunteer or charity work 10% 8%


Over a third of men were doubtful that they’d even take an extended break; among those who would, their reasons are very different:

Caring for self Women Men
Relaxation/travel/vacations 30% 28%
Marriage/honeymoon 26% 18%
Pursue life dream or hobby 16% 18%
Return to school/gain new skills 19% 17%
I’m highly unlikely to take 4 weeks away 14% 34%


Millennials in tune or out of touch with reality?

GoodCall spoke with Kristy Willis, senior vice president of Adecco Staffing USA about the survey results. She was not surprised by the responses and said they mirrored a recent Adecco staffing survey.

“Millennials (and Gen Z-ers) entering the workforce have financial stability top of mind; as such, it makes sense that they would be open to working past the age of 65 – or even beyond – to maintain that sense of security in their wallets.”

And that’s why Samantha Lambert, director of human resources for Blue Fountain Media, tells GoodCall that Millennials are absolutely in touch and have realistic expectations regarding their future. “I think a lot of it is related to how they watched their parents and where they were at that age, and the changes in society – like nearly everything increasing in price.” And Lambert says if Millennials observe their parents struggling financially and not able to retire anytime soon, this could reinforce the idea that they will also have to work longer before they can leave the workforce.

In addition, recent studies show that student loan debt is limiting careers, marriage, home-buying, and retirement, which could also explain why many Millennials – especially those with massive student loan debt – don’t plan to retire anytime soon. Their openness to part-time and temporary jobs may also be the result of the desire to earn extra income to pay all of their expenses.

And Willis says it’s important to note that the opportunity for growth is important to this generation of job seekers. “They’re eager to grow and learn and move up the ladder, and it’s not surprising that they would be willing to spend their own money for additional education and training.”

For Millennials, it seems to be more about the journey than about any particular job, which could indicate that they know there’s no such thing as job security. Recent news reports like the one stating that IBM is simultaneously laying off and hiring thousands of workers serve as a warning to workers to keep their skills sharp.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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