Research suggests companies need a fresh hiring approach as Millennials turn their backs on traditional workplaces.

  • 76 percent of Hiring Managers believe Millennials are motivated by money, yet the real  motivator is the chance to work on exciting and interesting projects
  • 57 percent of Millennials believe corporate loyalty is dead
  • A third of Millennials have freelanced

A new generation of millennial workers has emerged from the ashes of the economic downturn, armed with a ‘back yourself’ mentality that is disrupting how companies recruit and retain talent. That’s according to a major new study exploring the views of Millennials and Hiring Managers from Elance-oDesk, the leading online workplace which connects businesses and freelancers1.

The research reveals that Hiring Managers have a limited understanding of what motivates young people in the workplace. Although 76 percent of Hiring Managers believe young people’s career choices are mainly driven by money and earning potential, in fact their biggest motivator is having the chance to work on exciting and interesting projects (53%). Almost a third (32%) say a clear progression path motivates them and 41 percent look for flexibility.

There is also a disconnect between the views of Millennials and Hiring Managers when it comes to their perceived value. 70 percent of Millennials believe they have skills previous generations didn’t and almost three quarters believe they are more adaptable to change. This contrasts with only half of Hiring Managers thinking Millennials have skills previous generations didn’t and just over half (51%) believe they are more adaptable to changing situations.

The research also shows that 57 percent of Millennials consider the concept of long-term, corporate loyalty to be dead. Instead, 5.6million are choosing to build and climb their own career ladder by freelancing with multiple different organisations2 .

Hayley Conick, Country Manager of Elance-oDesk comments, “Many Millennials feel they have been overlooked and their skills undervalued by traditional employers. Far from just accepting this, their response is to strike out on their own, taking advantage of the online world of work where they can offer their skills to multiple organisations around the world.”

Conick continues, “A dearth of ‘traditional’ employment opportunities may have catalysed the boom in independent working, but what we’re seeing now is more and more people actively choosing this way of work. They’re attracted by the opportunity to take control of their destiny and the flexibility and variety freelancing offers.”

This presents a challenge for Hiring Managers wanting to hire the best young talent in the coming years as the economy recovers. Many Millennials simply don’t want to be lured back into full time ‘traditional’ jobs, as Conick concludes, “I expect to see the emergence of ‘hybrid’ workforces, where Hiring Managers manage a core permanent employee base, working alongside independent freelancers who bring fresh thinking and new skills to the organisation. Hiring Managers that fail to embrace and plan for this will face a talent black hole in the next five to ten years.”


1 Research is based on primary research conducted by Red Brick Research between September 1 – September 10, 2014. The research was conducted with 1,001 UK Millennials and 200 Hiring Managers.

2 UK population = 64.1million, eMarketer states Millennials make up 23% of population (14,743,000) and 38% of this number is 5,602,340.

Hiring Manager definition: Company owners or managers (aged 33 plus) all with responsibility for recruitment or HR strategy within their business

In this research, reference is made to “Generation X” or the “previous Generation”. For the purpose of this research, the birth year ranges for these groups are: Millennials: 1982 – 1993; Generation X/previous Generation:1959 – 1961