Financial security is most important issue to Gen Y

What career issues keep Generation Y professionals awake at night? When asked to name their chief career concern, one-third (33 percent) of Gen Y workers polled cited compensation and benefits issues. The second most common response was finding and keeping a job, provided by 26 percent of those surveyed; career satisfaction ranked third, named by 23 percent of respondents.

The survey, commissioned by Robert Half International and Yahoo! HotJobs, examines the professional priorities of the most senior members of Generation Y or the "Millennials" -- those who have already started a career or will soon start one. More than 1,000 adults between the ages of 21 and 28 were polled for the project. The findings are available in a report, What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees.

"The Gen Y professionals we surveyed were focused on practical concerns, such as saving enough money for retirement and being able to balance work and family obligations," said Reesa Staten, senior vice president and director of workplace research for Robert Half International. "These basic quality-of-life needs are common among all demographics in the workplace."

You can download a copy of the report.

Generation Y workers were asked, "What is your number-one career concern for the future?" The responses, which were recorded verbatim, fell into the following categories:

Salary and healthcare/retirement benefits 33%
Job stability 26%
Career satisfaction 23%
Other 8%
None 5%
Don't know 5%

Following are some verbatim responses from survey respondents asked to identify their top financial and benefits-related concerns:

"Having enough money to support the lifestyle I desire."
"Getting paid enough to both save for retirement and enjoy the present."
"Finding a better job or a career with benefits, a 401(k), better salary and financial stability."
"How long I have to work into my golden years to secure a good retirement."
"If I will ever be able to afford a future: a house, a wedding, children and retirement."
"Access to health and retirement benefits."
"That I won't make enough money to provide a good life for my family, with rising costs of everything from fuel to homes and food."

The following responses were from Gen Y workers whose chief concern was finding and keeping a job:

"That I won't be able to get a job that matches up with my qualifications."
"Being able to settle into the job right after graduation."
"That the economy won't be sustained in order for jobs to be secure."
"Being able to find a job after being outsourced."
"If there will be enough jobs for the number of job seekers."
"Having to switch jobs more than I desire."

And, finally, survey respondents who focused on job satisfaction had the following to say:

"My number-one career concern for the future is advancement. A time will come when I need to decide if I should stay at my current position, or if I should take a new, better job. My concern is knowing how to tell when that moment comes."
"Finding something that I am truly passionate about."
"Whether or not I'll enjoy my work. Going to work when you hate it is so hard and tiring."
"If I want to change careers, how much more will I have to put into going back to school? How much is it going to cost me to change my career, and will it be worth it?"
"Finding a niche career that suits me."
"Being happy with my job, and balancing work and home life."

Staten noted that survey respondents placed the most emphasis on money, benefits and professional growth. "Gen Y workers want the best healthcare and retirement benefits employers can provide as well as defined career paths. To recruit these professionals, firms should make these programs easy to understand, promote them in detail on the company website and highlight them during the interview process," she said.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2007 by an independent research firm. It includes a total of 1,007 online interviews of people 21 to 28 years old who are employed full or part time, and have college degrees or are currently attending college. Among those surveyed, 505 were males and 502 were females.

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