Case Study: American Express

We worked with American Express on the “Gen Y Workplace Expectations Study” in order to compare how Gen Y’s and their managers (Gen X and boomers) view workplace success. The research gave insight into what managers are looking for when promoting, generational relationships on social media, how they stereotype each other and more. On March 12th, 2012, Lightspeed Research collected survey responses from 1,000 Gen Y employees (22 to 29 year olds) and 1,000 managers across American companies of all sizes, in various industries.


“Understanding your millennial workforce will better position companies for success, as this generation represents our future leaders and customers”. American Express has a vested interest in the career advancement and development of our millennial talent because of their capabilities to drive workplace innovation and help move our business forward. This is why we partnered with Dan Schawbel on research for his new book, “Promote Yourself”, which explores how millennials can be primed for career success.

– Valerie Grillo, Chief Diversity Officer at American Express

Key findings

  • Gen Y workers have a positive view of their managers, believing that their managers can offer experience (59%), wisdom (41%), and a willingness to mentor (33%), while managers have an overall negative view of their Gen Y employees. They feel said employees have unrealistic compensation expectations (51%), a poor work ethic (47%), and are easily distracted (46%).
  • 61% of managers and 65% of Gen Y’s believe that soft skills are the most important when promoting.
  • 58% of managers are either very willing or extremely willing in supporting Gen Y’s who want to be intrapreneurs.

Business results

Mainstream media coverage: The research report was launched on September 3rd, 2013 and received coverage in over 50 media outlets, including NBC’s “The Today Show”, The Wall Street Journal,  The Harvard Business Review, TIME, Business Insider, Tech Republic,, Inc., Fox Business, LA Times,, Motley Fool, Human Resource Executive,, SHRM, CBS News, Miami Herald, US News, Upstart Business Journal, The Huffington Post, The Globe And Mail,,, The Daily Beast, BusinessWeek, The Houston Chronicle, Oracle’s “Profit Magazine”, Entrepreneur,, Switch And Shift, Forbes, Levo League, Hubspot, Pando Daily, Web Strategist, The Guardian, ASTD, Boston Globe, Business News Daily,,, Brian Solis’s Blog,, Gretchen Rubin’s Blog, Mashable, and Human Capital Online.

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