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Have millennials fallen out of love with business?

Have millennials fallen out of love with business?

Monday, 28 May 2018
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

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3 min read

Deloitte’s latest Millennial Survey leaves little room for doubt. Uneasy about the growth of Industry 4.0 and its attendant technologies, millennials see business as focusing too much on the bottom line and not enough on society and the environment. What are the main takeaways of this year’s report?

How millennials spend their money, and why, is a hot topic for business, but shouldn’t we also be interested in how these 24-35 year-olds see their role as workers and the values they would like their employers to uphold? This is precisely what Deloitte consultancy has done for the past seven years in its Millennial Survey, based on interviews conducted in countries across the world. For the 2018 edition, 10,455 millennials from 36 countries and 1,844 Gen Z respondents (ages 19 to 23) in six countries were questioned. The conclusion is summed up in the survey’s title: Millennials disappointed in business, unprepared for Industry 4.0.

As Deloitte notes, compared with previous years this latest survey reveals a reversal of opinion, with only a minority of millennials believing that businesses behave ethically and that business leaders are committed to helping society. Three-quarters of respondents are convinced that corporations are focused on their own agendas with little consideration for wider society. Two-thirds say companies have no other objective than to make money. Welcome to the real world? Millennials aren’t naive, writes Deloitte, but they do believe businesses should pursue a broader balance of objectives that place equal emphasis on profit, making a positive impact on the environment and society, capacity for innovation, career development and, more generally, improving people’s lives.

Millennials believe businesses have the means to make a difference but fail to take effective action.
Workers and consumers

This same gap between what companies should be doing and what millennials perceive them as doing is also evident when analysing their biggest concerns, namely unemployment, income inequality, climate change and terror. Millennials remain convinced that businesses have the means to positively influence these issues but accuse business leaders of failing to take effective action. This goes some way towards explaining why these young professionals feel relatively little loyalty towards their employers. Almost half those questioned (43%) thought they would leave their job within two years. This compares with the 28% who could see themselves staying beyond five years. Industry 4.0, with its marriage of physical and digital technologies such as analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and the internet of things, adds to this unease. A majority of those millennials questioned expect Industry 4.0 to have a huge impact on the workplace yet feel inadequately prepared to deal with these changes. Another area where businesses need to play catch-up.

It’s not all bad for the corporate world. Asked which group of individuals are making a positive impact, 71% of millennials believe political figures make no positive contribution whereas 44% think business leaders are helping to bring about changes in the right direction. Deloitte prefers to see these results in terms of opportunity: the organisations that are best able to reassure millennials and understand their concerns are most likely to attract and hold on to the best talent, and consequently perform better themselves. It’s also safe to say that millennials are more likely to buy from companies that align with their values. And we all know the customer is king.

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