Small Business

Why Young Workers Prefer Startups

Katherine Bindley, The Huffington Post
Getty Images

Members of Generation Y are shunning large corporate companies in favor of startups and small businesses, a new study by Payscale and Millenial Branding has found.

Of those aged 19 to 29 who were surveyed, 47 percent work for companies with less than 100 employees, and 30 percent work for medium sized companies that have between 100 and 1,500 employees. The survey sample was 500,000 people, though not all the survey questions were answered, the study notes, so some data is based on subsets. (More: Kickstarter's 10 Biggest Success Stories.)

"This report confirms that Gen Y is an entrepreneurial group, highly versed in social media, and prefers freedom and flexibility over big corporate policies," Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, said in the press release for the report. "While they are the future corporate leaders and change-makers, they are suffering in this economy by having to work in retail jobs over professional ones. A bachelor's degree can no longer be traded in for a job."

The study also found that relative to all U.S. workers, Gen Y'ers are more likely to choose college majors such as science, bioengineering and entrepreneurial studies. They're also more than three times as likely to list blogging as a skill. (More: Seven Things You're Doing Wrong on LinkedIn.)

As Mashable points out, the Payscale data also shows that marketing and social media are among the most common skills Gen Y employees are bringing to the table. And those skills may be proving more valuable to small business these days. USA Today recently reported that online surveys and social media are increasingly the research methods small businesses use to mine data and find out more about what their customers want.

Startups are proving to be so popular among young people right now that there's even a startup to help prep young people to work for start-ups, The New York Times reports.

With fewer people on staff at small companies, new employees are expected to adjust quickly without the same type of guidance they might get at larger companies. The Boston Startup School is attempting to bridge that gap by serving as a finishing school of sorts. (More: Would You Hire Your Mom?)

As one recent graduate of the program who thought she wanted to go into publishing prior to the program put it to the Times: “It wasn’t so much the publishing industry I liked, so much as being with a tight-knit group of people who are working passionately to create something."

Fortunately for those Gen Y'ers who are interested in working at startups, other research suggests the feeling is mutual: Another study found that older, more established companies are less likely to hire younger people than are newer companies. According to the data, 45 percent of those working at startups founded within the last five years are under the age of 35.