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The millennial generation’s perspectives of work values in the retail industry.

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The Millennial generation employees are estimated to make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020; and around 75% by 2025. This generational group has been described in various studies as different to previous generations, and there is still a lot of uncertainty how to best retain and utilise the talents of this high-tech savvy generation. In order to better understand this generational group, one can aim to better understand how Millennials view work values in the organisation, since work values serve as the normative standard that employees use to choose between different behaviours. Work values determine the way in which employees see their experiences at work and employees use work values as an indirect criterion to evaluate aspects of work and outcomes. For that reason, work values have the ability to influence level of job satisfaction and have an influence on loyalty. It is not only important for organisations to better understand this generational group since Millennials will soon make up the bulk of the workforce, but even more so because of alarming results of studies done by Deloitte that indicated that, internationally, one out of four Millennials worldwide are planning on resigning their jobs within a year and join another organisation in the same industry; and in South Africa the situation does not look better, as 76% of Millennials working in South Africa are planning to leave their current company within five years. The literature review suggests that, since there seems to be such a lack of loyalty amongst Millennials, organisations can manage and retain them better if the work values of this generation is understood. In this study a total of 318 questionnaires were completed by Millennial generation employees working for an organisation in the retail clothing industry. In this study, work values of Millennials were measured, based on the four categories for work values in the Lyons Work Values Survey (LWVS) questionnaire. The LWVS questionnaire consists of 25 items that were developed by collecting and classifying the items from the 13 most commonly used work value measurements, and adding new items to represent modern aspects of work. The four main work value constructs under investigation were instrumental, cognitive, social and prestige work values. The results of this research show that Millennials put high value on most of the 25 work value items, giving organisations a good indication of what work values should be focused being incorporated into the employee management strategies of the organisation. Millennials placed a specific high level of importance on instrumental work values, followed by cognitive work values, and then social and prestige work values. The results support the literature, which states that by understanding the work values of Millennials, organisations will be able to better manage this generational group of employees.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.