Millennial's confidence in business takes a sharp turn

Millennials and Gen Z show less loyalty to and less confidence in business: Deloitte Study


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  • Millennial's confidence in business takes a sharp turn; they feel unprepared for Industry 4.0.  
  • The need to address educational background as a diversity issue was more acute within emerging (52 percent) than in mature (33 percent) markets, and especially so in China (77 percent) and India (56 percent).
  • In India, 47% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z expect to stay with their current employers for less than two years. 
  • Distrustful of companies’ motivation and ethics, respondents call for business leaders to positively impact the broader world.
  • As loyalty levels retreat, diversity and flexibility are keys to retention as gig economy expands.
  • Millennials and Gen Z feel unprepared for Industry 4.0 changes—want business to help them develop skills needed to succeed.

Millennials and Gen Z are sounding the alarm for businesses to step up their efforts to make a positive impact on the broader world, according to Deloitte’s seventh annual Millennial Survey. Although some leaders are starting to tackle social issues, millennials have become more skeptical overall of businesses motivation and ethics. In India, 78 percent of the millennials feel that business’ focus on their own agenda rather than considering the wider society and about 73 percent are of the opinion that business’ have no ambition beyond wanting to make money. 

As highlighted over the past six years, millennials—and now Gen Z—are acutely attuned to business’ wider role in society, and overwhelmingly feel that business success should be measured beyond financial performance. They believe business’ priorities should be job creation, innovation, enhancing employees’ lives and careers, and making a positive impact on society and the environment.

However, when asked what their organizations focus on, they cited generating profit, driving efficiencies, and producing or selling goods and services—the three areas they felt should have the least focus. They recognize businesses must make a profit to achieve the priorities millennials desire, but believe businesses should set out to achieve a broader balance of objectives along with financial performance.

 “Our leaders will have to use disruptive methods to engage with their people. The survey indicates that about 70 percent of millennials in India believe that their employers are helping to prepare them for Industry 4.0 compared to 36 percent globally. At the same time they feel that the companies run their own agenda. There is a clear need to bridge the leadership gap and the young generation does not only want to learn but also actually grow and live life. They are eager for business leaders to be proactive about making a positive impact in society—and to be responsive to employees’ needs,” said SV Nathan, Partner and Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India.

Trust gap provides opportunity for business leaders

Deloitte’s past two surveys suggested millennials felt increasingly more positive about business’ motivation and ethics. However, in 2018, there was a dramatic reversal as opinions of business reached their lowest level in four years. Today, less than half of millennials believe businesses behave ethically (48 percent vs 65 percent in 2017) and that business leaders are committed to helping improve society (47 percent vs 62 percent). 

In India, 80 and 81 percent of millennials and GenZ respectively believe that leaders of NGOs or not-for-profits have a positive impact on society. 

The survey also looks at millennials’ opinions on economic and political trends in their countries to gauge optimism about respondents’ personal prospects in light of their social views.  There was no movement from last year in overall economic optimism. Across all 36 markets, 45 percent expect the economic situations in their countries to improve over the next year, a figure almost double of those predicting a deterioration (24 percent).  Interestingly, Gen Z respondents anticipate being slightly happier than their millennial counterparts. In China and India, 70 percent of the younger group expects to be happier than their parents.

Loyalty levels recede; diversity/inclusion, flexibility keys to retention

Loyalty levels have remained considerably low in the last 3 years. Among millennials in India, 47 percent envision leaving their jobs within two years, and only 24 percent are looking to stay beyond five years. Loyalty is even lower among the emerging Gen Z employees - a stark 66 percent of Gen Z envision of staying beyond two years within their organizations. 

44 percent of respondents in India place importance on financial rewards and benefits while choosing an employer as against 63 percent of respondents globally. Both millennials and Gen Z place a premium on factors such as learning opportunities, tolerance and inclusivity, respect and different ways of thinking. While pay and culture attract this cohort to employers, larger meaning of life, diversity, inclusion and flexibility are the keys to keeping millennials and Gen Z happy. 

52 percent of millennials and 53 percent of Gen Z in India are looking for opportunities of continuous learning from their employers. 

Industry 4.0 leaves millennials, Gen Z feeling unprepared

Millennials and Gen Z are highly aware of how Industry 4.0 is shaping the workplace and feel it has the potential to free people from routine activities to focus on more creative work. In India, 37 percent of Gen Z feel that the ability to think creatively is the top skill they bring to their workplace. Still, industry 4.0 is a new game for many. 23 and 22 percent of millennials and Gen Z respectively in India feel that it will have an impact on their job. 

32 percent of Indian millennials fear part or all of their jobs will be replaced as against 17 percent globally. 38 percent millennials feel their employers and business are responsible for preparing them for industry 4.0. 

Nathan added, “Respondents are looking for guidance that is inclusive of technical and broader knowledge. We need Leaders 5.0 who understand that the transformation journey will require for them to embrace a new approach like what I call ‘digitalent’. At the end of the day, businesses need to listen to what millennials are telling us and reimagine how business approaches talent management in Industry 4.0. We have to take our people along with us and create a relevant culture, placing a renewed focus on learning and development to help all people grow in their careers throughout their lifetimes.”


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