Consumer Insights: MTV’s ‘No Collar Workers’

by Alison Hillhouse, MTV Research

(Image Courtesy of MTV Insights)

By some estimates, there are already more than 40 million Millennials in the U.S. workforce. While they have a strong work ethic, Millennials operate differently than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, and they are deeply transforming both the workplace and the world. In “No Collar Workers,” we do an in-depth audit of their work habits to better understand the Millennial working experience and to identify ways to leverage the innovation of this distinctive generation. The findings reveal that Millennials call for meaning, mentorship and meritocracy in a workplace that channels what they bring to the table.

Key Findings:

Millennials foster social environments in the workplace, integrating their work lives with their personal lives in an even bigger way than Boomers have.

The vast majority wants jobs that work with their lifestyle and allow them to be themselves. Their expectations for social connections at work set them apart from other generations.

  • 81% of Millennials think they should be allowed to make their own hours at work versus 69% of Boomers.
  • 79% of Millennials think they should be allowed to wear jeans to work (at least sometimes) versus 60% of Boomers.

Millennials want their workplace to be social and fun, much more so than Boomers (89% versus 60%).

  • 88% of Millennials overall and 95% of Hispanic Millennials want their coworkers to be their friends.
  • 79% of Millennials overall and 95% of Hispanic Millennials think it is okay to “friend” their co-workers.

There are differences in opinion between male and female Millennials regarding relationships in the workplace.

  • 70% of Millennial males think they should be allowed to date co-workers, while only 51% of Millennial females agree.
  • 63% of Millennial males think it´s okay for their boss to “friend” them, while only 40% of Millennial females agree.

While some critics label it “self-importance,” Millennials in the workplace are actually exhibiting a deeper desire to generate new ideas and contribute.

Nearly all Millennials (92%) think their company is lucky to have them as an employee, but they expect feedback and recognition.

  • Three-fourths of Millennials would like to have a mentor and 8 out of 10 want regular feedback from their boss.
  • 8 out of 10 think they deserve to be recognized more for their work.
  • 61% say they need specific directions from their boss to do their best work — a level twice as high as observed among Boomers.

Millennials demonstrate a desire to have their tech skills and savvy tapped by senior managers.

  • 85% of Millennials think their mastery of technology makes them faster than their older coworkers.
  • 76% of Millennials think their boss could learn a lot from them (compared to only 50% of Boomers who say the same).
  • Two-thirds of Millennials think they should be mentoring older co-workers on technology.

Millennials view life as a multi-level, multi-player game – and the workplace is no exception. No longer do young employees view the career ladder as a rigidly defined series of steps to the top. Millennials are taking control of their own destiny, looking for trapdoors and ways to switch roles within a company or start something on their own to “level up” faster.

  • In the “game” of the workplace, more than three-fourths of Millennials think they are smarter players than most, and that they’d know how to “level up” faster than others (versus 59% of Boomers).
  • Three-fourths of Millennials think they will find a way to advance faster than others, compared to only half of Boomers.
  • A full half of all working Millennials believes “switching jobs helps you climb the corporate ladder faster” (versus 37% of Boomers).
  • Nearly 6 in 10 think that they will switch jobs in less than 5 years.

The quest for work that is “meaningful” and “makes a difference” has become a core Millennial trait. It’s not “career pickiness,” but an expression of a need to connect deeply with the work.  The three critical aspects of their work are work/life balance, loving what they do and good benefits.  While a good salary and vacation time are important, they are not key drivers.

  • One-third prefers recognition from their boss/coworkers or a promotion over higher pay.
  • Half of Millennials would rather have no job than have a job they hate.
  • 89% of Millennials think it is important to be constantly learning at their job.
  • 90% of Millennials think they deserve their dream job, and nearly 60% think that perfect job might exist.


Businesses that understand how transformative Millennials will be in the workplace can tap into their innovation to create new products, services and work environments.

Corporations can consider these findings to create an environment where Millennials thrive, and channel their power into a real competitive advantage.

  • Nearly 9 in 10 Millennials want the workplace to be social and fun.
  • 93% want a job where they can be themselves.
  • 71% want their coworkers to be like a second family.

The Methodology:

This study was based on an online survey of 500 U.S. Millennials ages 19-28 fielded November 2011.

Alison Hillhouse is Vice President, Insights Innovation for MTV.

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  1. Times are changing drastically. Younger people are climbing the ladder to success faster than ever, they really don’t want to copy the business attire of those before them. A great example of this is Mark Zuckerberg.

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