What do millennials want? A look at Deloitte’s latest millennial survey

What do millennials want? A look at Deloitte’s latest millennial survey

Every generation is impacted by the events we experience, and millennials and Generation Z members are no exception. In an effort to better understand younger workers, Deloitte has been surveying millennials around the world every year since 2012. The latest survey findings, released on May 20, 2019, describe millennials as the “generation disrupted.”

While previous surveys had included only millennials with college degrees who were employed in large private sector organizations, this year’s survey of 13,000 millennials in 43 countries also included respondents without college degrees, or who were unemployed. About one-third of respondents were unemployed (31%), or lacked a college degree (34%). Like last year’s survey, the 2019 survey also included 3,000 Generation Z members in 10 countries, including some who were participating in the gig economy.

Disillusionment reigns

This year’s respondents had a record low level of economic and social/political optimism, combined with a lack of faith in social institutions. Many members of both generations had a front-row seat when their parents – who had been loyal to employers – lost their jobs and life savings in the 2008 stock market crash.

As the survey authors point out, the last decade has been marked by unevenness in economic improvements, increased tribalism, the dissolution of the long-held social contract between employer and employee, technology changes that disrupt patterns of work, and the development of an always-on, always-connected online world that simultaneously connects and isolates us. Many of us are still feeling the effects of the 2008 recession.

In previous years, when asked if they expected economic conditions to improve in their countries in the next year, at least 40% of survey respondents were optimistic. This year, only 26% were hopeful for improvement. About half of millennials believe that any future income gains they personally receive – whether from raises or better jobs – will be fully consumed by increased costs.

While these younger generations are no less ambitious than older folks, they are putting the traditional “success markers,” such as buying a house and having children, on hold. Instead, their priorities are traveling and seeing the world above earning a high salary or owning a house. They would rather make a positive impact on the world than have children.

Business has an image problem

When asked what they think businesses should try to achieve, the top three responses from Millennials were produce high quality goods and services (36%), generate jobs/provide employment (35%), and enhance livelihoods of its employees (33%). However, businesses are falling short in meeting those expectations. According to millennials, the top three things that businesses actually achieve are generate profit (55%), innovate (33%), and drive efficiency (31%). Only 37% of millennials believe that business leaders are making a positive impact on the world.

A need for upskilling, but who will take responsibility?

Technology is changing the way nearly everyone does their work, and those changes require new skills. Only about one in five respondents reported that they already have the skills and knowledge they’ll need to thrive in the future. Millennials put the onus on business as the biggest provider of training, while Generation Z members – who may still be in college – said that it was educational institutions who should help the most.

However, according to a 2019 Deloitte survey of global C-suite executives, responsibility for upskilling rests with individuals, government, and schools, rather than on business. Given this disconnect, perhaps it’s not surprising that lack of learning and development opportunities was among the top three reasons cited by both millennials and Generation Z members who were planning to leave their current job within two years.

A competitive advantage in retaining millennials

Keeping millennials and younger workers requires a different strategy than just moving them up the career ladder over time. Firm owners and our clients might consider how offering additional training and guidance might set them apart from businesses that don’t.

While those extra costs may seem like a luxury, here’s an exchange I’ve heard many times that might demonstrate the value: A CFO asks the CEO, “What happens if we give our staff this additional training and they leave in two years?” The CEO answers, “What happens if don’t give our staff this training, and in two years, they’re still here?”

Echoing previous survey results, this latest iteration by Deloitte notes that millennials and Generation Z members also want work that is personally satisfying and protects the planet. Since these younger workers now make up the majority of the global workforce, future-looking advisors should pay close attention to building businesses that reflect the values of millennials and Generation Z!