81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them Money

81% of Millennials Say Business Success Means Having a Purpose, Even if it Costs Them Money

Millennials prioritize different things than past generations have when it comes to business success. In fact, 81 percent of them think that a business needs a genuine purpose that resonates with people in order to be successful, according to a recent survey from American Express and Kantar Futures.

The survey, Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way, featured responses from more than 2,300 millennials who are leaders and managers in businesses across the U.S., U.K. and France. It featured a number of topics, ranging from personal success to the changing business landscape.

But one of the most prevalent themes seems to be how much millennials value having a purpose behind their work. Sixty-eight percent said they want to be known for making a positive difference in the world. And slightly fewer respondents, 62 percent, said they recognize the importance of maximizing shareholder value and profits.

For Millennials, Business Success Means Having a Purpose

So it seems millennials put having a genuine purpose above the ability to make as much money as possible. This can have a major impact on the future of business, and on how today’s businesses might market to millennials or manage millennial employees. In fact, 78 percent of respondents believe that their employer’s values should match their own. This could mean businesses with a social or charitable element may be more appealing for millennials. But it could also lead to even more of an emphasis on things like flexible scheduling, fair pay, family leave and other work-life balance issues. Additionally, it could mean they’ll be less likely to overlook things they don’t see as aligning with their own values in favor of a big paycheck.

Overall, this study seems to show the business landscape is on the cusp of change. It’s unlikely the majority of future businesses will simply dismiss the importance of profits altogether. But they could start to value profits and purpose on a more equal level.

Image: American Express


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions
  1. Keep in mind that they asked “leaders and managers in businesses” so this report is skewed. These people are more likely to be high earners already. Ask rank and file employees who struggle to pay rent and you’ll likely get a lot less interest in purpose. Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs basically.

  2. For millennials, having a business is more than just for making money. They want to do what they want and make money at the same time. It is a dream for them.