Working to live, not living to work: New global research throws out conventions on millennials in the workplace

Global study by Sage looks at the motivations and personas of young entrepreneurs

London, UK (July 5, 2016)

  • Survey from 16 countries shows that millennial entrepreneurs fit into five distinct personas
  • Study gives insight into how to hire, engage and do business with these ambitious young people
  • 61% will sacrifice profit to stay true to their values – rising to 78% in South Africa, 70% in the US and 72% in Singapore
  • 66% say life comes before work, with the biggest gaps in Spain (79% versus 21%), Portugal (75% versus 25%) and France (65% versus 35%).
  • One in three (34%) are driven by a desire to be masters of their own destiny, rather than make money (21%).
  • Doing social good is especially important in South Africa (80%) and Brazil (81%).

Young entrepreneurs are driven by a desire for independence, a belief in social good and a commitment to employee happiness. That’s according to Sage’s Walk With Me report, which examines the key characteristics, attitudes and behaviours of millennial entrepreneurs around the world.

Despite sweeping generalisations about how this generation behaves, the study shows that these business leaders have diverse traits which align them with five workplace personality types:

  • The Principled Planners – extremely methodical in their approach to work, they enjoy carefully planning for success. With an ambitious streak, they never take anything at face value and always ask a lot of questions.
  • The Driven Techies – love their work and can’t bear the thought of sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they trust in the power and efficiency of innovative technology to keep them one step ahead of the competition. They have a strong belief in its ability to accurately target their existing and future customers.
  • The Instinctive Explorers – cavalier, they love the unknown, as well as exploring uncharted territory. They trust their gut instincts and stick to their guns. A modern image is extremely important to them, as is leaving a legacy behind to be remembered by.
  • The Real Worlders - resourceful, but likely to say they rely on technology in order to succeed. When it comes to their approach to work and making decisions, they tend to alternate between going on gut instinct and taking a more methodical approach.
  • The Thrill-Seekers - easily bored and always on the lookout for the next challenge, they couldn’t care less about appearances. They work best around others and believe that making a social impact is overrated.

More general trends from the study include a desire to make a difference. Doing social good is especially important to young entrepreneurs in South Africa (80%) and Brazil (81%) compared to other countries. Respondents in Switzerland (24%), Australia (20%) and France (19%) say employee happiness is what gets them out of bed in the morning, while 34% say they started their own business in order to be master of their own destiny.

When it comes to the work life balance, 66% value work over life. For respondents in Brazil (71%), Australia (70%), Belgium (70%), Singapore (73%) and Switzerland (70%), reducing the amount of hours they spend working and retiring early is a key focus for them.

62% believe they’ll be a serial entrepreneur, starting more than one than business – with 52% saying this is because they have lots of ideas they want to share with the world.

Kriti Sharma, Director, Product Management, Mobile, Sage, explains, “As a millennial entrepreneur myself I know first-hand that this business group are shaking things up. We’re rejecting established patterns of working and making technology work for us. We see business through a new lens. We’re willing to work hard, but want flexibility in how, when and with whom we do business.”

“Millennial entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in the start-up economy and are shaping the modern workplace at great pace,” explains Stephen Kelly, Sage CEO. “But they can’t be grouped together as a homogenous stereotype. Our research shows that they fall into distinct camps with specific hopes, fears, concerns and ways of working. They will be our next generation of business builders, the heroes of the economy, and understanding what makes them tick now stands us all in good stead for the future. That’s true of the people that want to do business with them, buy from them, hire them or create policy that helps them to grow.’

Millennials/Generation Y refers to those currently aged between 18-34 years old

Read the full report here

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About Sage

Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs. Sage began as a small business in the UK 30 years ago and over 13000 colleagues now support millions of entrepreneurs across 23 countries as they power the global economy. We reinvent and simplify business accounting through brilliant technology, working with a thriving community of entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners and developers. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are active in supporting our local communities and invest in making a real difference through the philanthropy of the Sage Foundation.

Sage – a market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs.