Julia Irvine 16 May 2018 10:20am

Millennial scepticism a wake-up call for business

Over the past year, young workers appear to have lost their trust in the businesses and the bosses they work for

A Deloitte survey of 10,455 millennials* across 36 countries and 1,850 Generation Z-aged participants* from the UK, US, Australia, China, Canada and India, revealed that both groups have become more sceptical about business motivation and ethics.

The report explained that most respondents wanted businesses to prioritise job creation, innovation, enhancing employees’ lives and careers, and making a positive impact on society and the environment, however many thought that in reality their employers were obsessing about creating profits, driving efficiencies and producing or selling goods and services.

While recognising that profits need to be generated, even if only to pay for the priorities that they aspire to, many believe that business needs to broaden its vision to embrace a wider range of objectives beyond financial performance.

Deloitte Global chief executive Punit Renjen attributes this sudden increase in scepticism to the rapid social, technological and geopolitical changes of the past 12 months and warns business leaders to take it as a wake-up call.

“These cohorts feel business leaders have placed too high a premium on their companies’ agendas without considering their contributions to society at large,” he said.

“Businesses need to identify ways in which they can positively impact the communities they work in and focus on issues like diversity, inclusion and flexibility if they want to earn the trust and loyalty of millennial and Gen Z workers.”

As a result of their lack of trust, nearly half (43%) of millennials are contemplating leaving their job within two years, while 72% expect to be gone within five years. Loyalty levels are even lower among Generation Z: nearly two thirds say they would leave their job within two years if given the choice.

What will persuade them to stay is an employer who focuses on diversity, inclusion and flexibility, particularly when it comes to working practices, the report said. Furthermore, they want their employer to be responsive to their developmental needs, especially in the face of the fourth industrial revolution and its impact on their job prospects.

*Millennials are defined as being born between January 1983 and December 1994 and Gen Z between January 1995 and December 1999.