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Quantified insights into Generation Y’s attitudes to work

Change Makers

Quantified insights into Generation Y’s attitudes to work


Recruitment company Hays has conducted a survey that quantifies many widespread assumptions about Generation Y and its attitudes towards work.


The study surveyed 1000 18 to 30 year olds living in Australia about their career aspirations, factors leading to job satisfaction, ideal characteristics of bosses and their relationships with social media and technology.

Almost 40% of respondents had three years of work experience, almost a quarter were in full time education and 9% were unemployed and looking for work.

Hays noted that part time work among Gen Ys was more common in Australia than other countries surveyed – 21% compared to the international average of 9%.

The male to female ratio was approximately even.


Top five more important factors in a working environment:

  1. Interesting work (64%)
  2. Flexible hours (50%)
  3. Flexible benefits (37%)
  4. Social life around work (33%)
  5. Modern/pleasant offices or working space (33%)


Factors leading to satisfaction at work:

  1. Feeling valued and appreciated (47%)
  2. Financial reward (40%)
  3. Varied and interesting work (34%)
  4. Feeling like you have made a positive contribution (34%)


Leadership style of ideal boss:

  1. Coach/mentor (50%)
  2. Leader (40%)
  3. Confidant (discuss private and work matters) (30%)
  4. Friend (23%)
  5. Advisor (20%)
  6. Director/allocator of work (14%)
  7. Peer (9%)


Four most important qualities in a workplace leader:

  1. Supportive (43%)
  2. Knowledgable/expert (42%)
  3. Able to motivate others (39%)
  4. Fair (38%)



  • 70% of Gen Y Australia already have, or are interested in having, their own business.
  • 96% would be prepared for ongoing study (or are already studying) to gain additional qualifications.


Five most attractive rewards and benefits:

  1. Base salary (57%)
  2. Possibility to work flexible hours (53%)
  3. Potential to earn bonus (44%)
  4. Possibility to work from home (35%)
  5. Level of holiday allowance (33%)


Job security:

  • 45% want job security most from their work,
  • 67% think job security is achievable, and
  • 32% think job security is not realistically achievable these days.


Top four career success indicators:

  1. Achieving job satisfaction/enjoying my work (56%)
  2. Achieving a work life balance (49%)
  3. Creating personal wealth/being well paid (44%)
  4. Attaining job security (29%)


How many employers Gen Y expect to have in their career:

  • Four to six (25%)
  • One to three (28%)
  • Seven to nine (16%)
  • 10+ (11%)


Beliefs about social media at work:

  • 62% think technology is blurring the boundaries between work life and social life,
  • 58% think social media is distracting at work, and
  • 45% think social media is a helpful tool at work.


In five years time, expect to communicate for work via:

  1. Email (63%)
  2. Mobile phone call (50%)
  3. Mobile phone SMS (35%)


There has been plenty said and written about Generation Y – do these findings from Hays confirm or bust some of the myths?


Michelle Herbison

Assistant editor, Marketing Magazine.

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