“...when I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man comes on the radio he’s telling me more and more about some useless information supposed to fire my imagination. I can’t get no satisfaction...”
--Lyrics by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, baby boomers.
GUEST BLOG / By Michele Parmelee, Deloitte’s Global Managing Principal— Facing continuous technological and societal disruption, millennials and Gen Zs are disillusioned with traditional institutions, skeptical of business’ motives and pessimistic about economic and social progress, according to 2019 Deloitte Millennial Survey, released this week. The survey found that despite global economic growth, expansion, and opportunity, younger generations are wary about the world and their place in it. But they remain hopeful and lean on their values as both consumers and employees.
The survey’s executive summary is published at the end of this blog.
From the economic recession a decade ago to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, millennials and Gen Zs have grown up in a unique moment in time impacting connectivity, trust, privacy, social mobility, and work, says Deloitte’s Global Millenial Survey. This uncertainty is reflected in their personal views on business, government, leadership and the need for positive societal change agents. As business leaders, we must continue to embrace the issues resonating most with these two generations, or risk losing out on talent in an increasingly competitive market.
This generation disrupted is no less ambitious than previous generations: More than half want to earn high salaries and be wealthy. But their priorities have evolved, or at least been delayed. Having children and other traditional signals of adulthood “success markers” do not top their list of priorities. Instead, they’d rather travel and see the world (57 percent) versus buying a home (49 percent) and help their communities (46 percent) versus having children (39 percent).
Their desire to make a difference is evident in both their personal concerns—climate change and the environment topped that long list—and in the factors, they consider when choosing consumer products and services, as well as employers.
Economic optimism, institutional trust and social mobility continues to waver
Respondents’ anticipation for economic improvement dipped to the lowest level in six years. Only 26 percent of respondents expect economic conditions in their countries to rally in the coming year, down from 45 percent a year ago.
Income inequality and unemployment were cited as top challenges facing the world today and are likely factors in their pessimistic views toward the economy. Two-thirds of millennials believe that some people are not given a fair chance at achieving success. Respondents believe that the government is most responsible for improving social mobility, but they do not believe this is one of the government’s top priorities.
Consistent with past surveys, respondents expressed low opinions of political and religious leaders. Seventy-three percent said political leaders are failing to have a positive impact on the world, with two-thirds saying the same of faith leaders. About 45 percent of millennials said they have absolutely no trust in either set of leaders as sources of reliable information. However, respondents still believe the government is best-equipped to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.
An evolving tech and media landscape underscores privacy and cyber security concerns
Along with declining trust in governmental and religious institutions, trust in media is low among millennials and Gen Zs. Forty-three percent of respondents said that traditional media is negatively impacting the world, and 27 percent expressed zero trust in the media as a reliable source of information. As millennials and Gen Zs look to gather information through alternative means, concerns about the impact of social media are also pervasive. Seventy-one percent of millennials feel fairly positive or very positive about their personal use of digital devices and social media. However, 64 percent of respondents believe they would be physically healthier if they reduced social media consumption, and 41 percent wish they could stop using it completely.
Despite recognizing the detriments of social media, overall, respondents are embracing technology. They are more skeptical, though, when it comes to cyber security. Seventy-nine percent are concerned they will be victims of online fraud. Similarly, 78 percent are worried about how organizations share personal data with each other. This is eye-opening, considering that a quarter of millennials have ended consumer relationships because of companies’ inability to protect data.
Business must adapt to values-driven consumers and employees
Millennials’ opinions about business continue to diminish, as 55 percent of respondents said business has a positive impact on society, down from 61 percent in 2018. The decrease was driven, in part, by views that businesses focus solely on their own agendas rather than considering the consequences for society. Business will have to work hard to improve this reputation because millennials are putting their money where their mouths are: 42 percent have started or deepened business relationships because they believe companies’ products or services are having positive impacts on society and/or the environment, while 38 percent have ended or lessened relationships with companies perceived to have a negative impact.
Regarding technology’s influence on the workforce, 49 percent of millennials believe new technologies will augment their jobs, 46 percent believe the changing nature of work will make it tougher to find or change jobs and 70 percent believe they may only have some or few of the skills required to succeed in Industry 4.0. Millennials believe business is most responsible for training workers to meet evolving challenges, while Gen Zs—still largely in school or recently graduated—put this responsibility on academia. This presents an interesting opportunity for business and academia to increasingly collaborate to solve tomorrow’s workforce challenges.
In terms of diversity and inclusion, there is a strong correlation between millennials who plan to stay in their current jobs and those who said their companies deliver best on indicators such as diversity and inclusion. Additionally, a majority of millennials responded that they give a “great deal” or “fair amount” of importance to gender and ethnicity when considering whether to work for an organization.
Millennials and Gen Zs are conflicted about the role of technology, and they are looking to business to help them adjust to a new normal. To attract and retain young employees, businesses should bolster their diversity and inclusion initiatives, find new ways to incorporate these generations into corporate societal impact programs and place a priority on reskilling and training to ensure talent is prepared for what’s ahead.
MillZ Mood Monitor
As part of Deloitte’s ongoing research on millennials, and now Gen Z, Deloitte is also unveiling a new tool called the “MillZ Mood Monitor,” which will track respondents’ year-over-year optimism about key political, personal, environmental and socioeconomic topics. Scores are based on responses related to economic, social/political, personal, environmental and business sentiments.
In the inaugural Mood Monitor, out of a total of 100, millennials posted a score of 39; Gen Z scored 40. Scores were boosted by generally positive feelings regarding business and the environment. Despite a large drop-off the past couple of years, 55 percent of both groups still believe business is having a positive impact on society. And about half of each group believes efforts to protect the planet’s health will be effective, compared to less than 30 percent who aren’t convinced.
Scores were hampered, though, by doubt about economic and social/political situations. In both groups, men were more optimistic than women, driven by a more positive economic outlook and agreement that business has a positive impact upon wider society.
For more information and to view the full research results of 2019 Millennial Survey, read the report here.
The 2019 report is based on the views of 13,416 millennials questioned across 42 countries. Millennials included in the study were born between January 1983 and December 1994. This report also includes responses from 3,009 Gen Z respondents in 10 countries. Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2002. The overall sample size of 16,425 represents the largest survey of millennials and Gen Zs completed in the eight years Deloitte Global has published this report. This year’s survey was expanded to include a more diverse group of participants, including 31 percent who did not have full-time employment status, and 34 percent who did not hold a college or university degree.
ABOUT DELOITTE: Deloitte has approximately 286,000 professionals at member firms delivering services in audit & assurance, tax, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, and related services in more than 150 countries and territories. Revenues for fiscal year 2018 were US$43.2 billion. Learn more about Deloitte in the 2018 Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Global Report.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF DELOITTE GLOBAL MILLENIAL SURVEY 2019
In business, disruption can promote innovation, growth, and agility. That, in turn, creates powerful and progressive business models, economic systems, and social structures. But unbridled disruption also has a downside, one that’s apparent in the 2019 Millennial Survey results. Deloitte Global’s annual Millennial Survey, which gauges the opinions of more than 13,400 millennials across 42 countries and territories and more than 3,000 Gen Zs across 10 countries can be read in full: click here.
Notwithstanding current global economic expansion and opportunity, millennials and Generation Z are expressing uneasiness and pessimism—about their careers, their lives in general, and the world around them. They appear to be struggling to find their safe havens, their beacons of trust. As a result, these younger, especially unsettled generations are instigating their own brand of disruption, both inadvertently and intentionally.
Among this year’s key findings:
• Economic and social/political optimism is at record lows. Respondents express a strong lack of faith in traditional societal institutions, including mass media, and are pessimistic about social progress.
• Millennials and Gen Zs are disillusioned. They’re not particularly satisfied with their lives, their financial situations, their jobs, government and business leaders, social media, or the way their data is used.
• Millennials value experiences. They aspire to travel and help their communities more than starting families or their own businesses.
• Millennials are skeptical of business’s motives. Respondents do not think highly of leaders’ impact on society, their commitment to improving the world, or their trustworthiness.
• They let their wallets do the talking (and walking). Millennials and Gen Zs, in general, will patronize and support companies that align with their values; many say they will not hesitate to lessen or end relationships when they disagree with companies’ business practices, values, or political leanings.
A generation disrupted
Why are these young generations filled with distrust instead of optimism? Perhaps it’s because they’re perpetually caught in the crossfire of social, political, and economic commotion.
Chief among the influencing factors is likely the economic recession of the late 2000s. At one end of the spectrum are older millennials who were entering the job market as the crisis unfolded. At the other end are Gen Zs, many of whom have spent half their lives in a post-crash world. Studies suggest that entering the labor market during a recession has long-term negative effects on subsequent wages and career paths.2
In the United States, millennials who entered the labor market around the recession, or during the years of slow growth that followed, experienced less economic growth in their first decade of work than any other generation. They have lower real incomes and fewer assets than previous generations at comparable ages, as well as higher levels of debt. The cumulative effect has altered a wide variety of financial decisions.
The complete impact goes deeper than economics. Unlike the postwar 1950s—which were characterized by international cooperation, a baby boom, and economic expansion that benefited most—the past decade has been marked by a steep rise in economic inequality, a reduction in societal safety nets, insular and dysfunctional governments, increased tribalism fueled by social media, radical changes in the contract between employers and employees, Industry 4.0 technologies that are redefining the workplace, and personal technologies that make people both more connected and more isolated.
The impact of myriad, radical changes to our daily lives has hit younger generations hard—economically, socially, and perhaps psychologically. Through this survey, this “generation disrupted” is telling us that continuous change and upheaval have created a population that is different at its core. But, they’re also providing valuable clues about how society’s institutions can respond to those differences in mutually beneficial ways that could increase trust, generate positive societal impact, and meet their high expectations.