Gen Y prioritise personal fulfilment over earning potential

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Generation Y, commonly defined as those born in the 1980s and 1990s, consider themselves truly global citizens and are prepared to be mobile to maximise the return from their careers, according to a survey from Hydrogen Group, the global recruitment firm.

With the recent recession significantly impacting the global job market, more and more people are looking abroad to further their careers, with double the number of people now willing to work overseas than five years ago when the survey began.

The members of Generation Y see working abroad as less of a challenge than the previous generation, and more a natural part of their chosen career paths. The Hydrogen survey found that:

  •  Nearly half those surveyed (48%) were willing to work abroad. This compares to a much lower figure for older generations (40-60 yr olds) where less than a quarter of those surveyed were willing to relocate for work
  • by the time they turn 30, half (50%) of Generation Y will be working or will have worked internationally
  • those in Generation Y are much less wary than the older generation when considering where to relocate to: 71% would be prepared to move to a BRICS country despite the fact that of these, only China featured in the top 15 preferred countries of all age groups
  • 81% of Generation Y who had experienced working abroad said that it had improved their career prospects.

In terms of motivations for moving abroad, all ages agree on the importance of career prospects and new experiences, but members of Generation Y differ from older generations in their desire for personal fulfilment above earning potential. These results chime with commonly held perceptions of Generation Y; that they look beyond salary to their own personal well being and development, taking into account wider factors such as training, work life balance and the working environment when they choose a role.

The openness of this generation to working abroad could play an important part in the growing global war for talent if it is harnessed in the right way. By 2025 more than 75% of the workforce will be from Generation Y, and providing companies understand how to retain and incentivise this generation, they will have available to them a workforce that is both happy to be truly global and prepared to work hard for the right development opportunities and experiences.

Tim Smeaton, Hydrogen Group chief executive, said: “As the generation that has had the most relative exposure to the technological revolution and its impact on globalisation, it is not surprising that barriers to working abroad have all but disappeared for Generation Y. Highly motivated and ambitious, Generation Y’s answer to the slow economic growth is to embrace the concept of global citizenship and the opportunities it offers for personal fulfilment and career development.”

Jay Hine, a member of Generation Y who has made the move from London UK to Houston USA says: “I made the decision to work overseas so I could be challenged in a completely new way. For me, the opportunity for personal fulfilment massively outweighed the earning potential of moving abroad. If you are good at your job, the money will come, but the chance to learn a new city, meet new people and travel has been fantastic. To be honest, moving to work abroad has completely changed my perspective and I would recommend it to anyone.”

The survey was conducted on 672 professionals aged between 21 and 30 with the help of ESCP Europe, the European business school.

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  1. What the article does not comment on is if those Gen Y’s questioned (ages 21 – 30) have family commitments – once childrens schooling becomes an issue you may find that this same generation in years to come may impact these findings – this may well need to be factored in.

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