A stressful 2016 tempers optimism, according to annual Deloitte global survey

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Anxious millennials seek stability

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27/02/2017 |
  • Benjamin Collette HD

    Benjamin Collette, Partner and Talent Leader, Deloitte Luxembourg

A turbulent 2016—punctuated by terror attacks in Europe, Brexit, and a contentious US presidential election—appears to have rattled millennials’ confidence, according to Deloitte’s sixth annual Millennial Survey. Millennials indicate they are less likely to leave the security of their jobs, more concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, and not optimistic about the directions in which their countries are going. The findings are based on a survey of nearly 8,000 millennials from 30 countries.

Millennials in emerging markets generally expect to be both financially and emotionally better off than their parents—with 71 and 62 percent respectively. This is in stark contrast to mature markets, where only about one third of the millennials predict they will be financially better off and happier than their parents’ generation. The US is the only mature market where a majority of millennials expect a better outlook.

Increased desire for stability
Millennials’ anxiety may be one of the reasons why more young professionals want to remain in their jobs. The balance of millennials looking to leave their company soon compared to those planning to stay for over five years has decreased substantially from 17 to only seven percentage points. The desire for security is also apparent in the finding that nearly two-thirds of the millennials surveyed prefer full-time employment to free-lance or contract work—despite the perceived across-the-board advantage of the latter.

Making an impact through their employers
Millennials feel accountable for many issues in both the workplace and the wider world. In general, millennials say they intend to stay longer with employers that engage with social issues, such as education, unemployment, and healthcare. Those most optimistic about their countries’ progress are more likely to work for employers that are involved with wider social and economic issues.

More than half of millennials say they are provided with opportunities to contribute to worthwhile causes in their workplaces. “The survey’s findings suggest that those given such opportunities show a greater level of loyalty to their employers, which is consistent with the connection we saw last year between loyalty and a company’s sense of purpose,” explains Benjamin Collette, Partner and Talent Leader at Deloitte Luxembourg. “We are also seeing that purpose has benefits beyond retention. Those who have a chance to contribute are less pessimistic about their countries’ general social and political situations, and have a more positive opinion of business behavior.”

Millennials’ attitudes on business overall continue to improve. For the third year in a row, more respondents believe businesses behave ethically and that their leaders are committed to improving society. Moreover, fewer feel businesses are purely profit-driven and prioritize their agendas with little regard for society.

Flexibility improves performance and retention
Millennials believe flexible working arrangements support greater productivity and employee engagement while enhancing their personal well-being, health, and happiness. Those in highly flexible organizations appear to be much more loyal to their employers and are two-and-a-half times more likely to believe that flexible working practices have a positive impact on financial performance than those in more restrictive organizations. Overall, around 40 percent of millennials say their employers offer highly flexible working environments.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • Automation brings threats and opportunities. There is no doubt automation brings with it some trepidation—40 percent of those surveyed see it posing a threat to their jobs; 44 percent believe there will be less demand for their skills; a majority believe they will have to retrain; and 53 percent see the workplace becoming more impersonal and less human. Conversely, many respondents—especially those considered “super-connected” millennials—see automation as providing opportunities for value-added or creative activities, as well as the learning of new skills.
  • Seeking directness and passion, not radicalism. Surveyed millennials, in general, do not support leaders who take controversial or divisive positions, or aim for radical transformation rather than gradual change. They are more comfortable with plain, straight-talking language from both business and political leaders.
  • GenZ’s creativity and skills are welcomed. Millennials tend to have a broadly positive opinion of Generation Z (those currently aged 18 or younger), believing the group to have strong information technology skills and the ability to think creatively. Six in 10 millennials believe GenZ will have a positive impact as their presence in the workplace expands; this belief is higher in emerging markets (70 percent) than in mature markets (52 percent).

View the executive report of the 2017 Millennial survey here: www.deloitte.com/lu/millenialsurvey.

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