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Millennials lose confidence in business and politics
Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 – The Australian Cut
16 May 2018: Australian millennials remain uneasy about the future: worried about terrorism, robots taking their jobs, and unemployment generally, and they have little confidence in the ability of business or politicians to help them, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey released today.
Over ten thousand millennials – those born between 1983 and 1994 - were surveyed across 36 countries, including 337 millennials in Australia. For the first time, Gen Z employees were also surveyed about their attitudes to work.
This year’s survey reveals three key themes: 1) Perceptions of business are declining, 2) Flexibility and a positive work culture are key to millennial loyalty, and 3) Young workers feel unprepared for the changing nature of work.
Confidence in business plunges
Millennials' opinion of business’ motivation and ethics is at its lowest level in four years. The percentage of Australian millennials who say business has a positive impact on society has dropped from 72% in 2017 to 45% in 2018.
Less than half (44%) believe businesses behave ethically and 83% believe business focuses on its own agenda, rather than considering wider society (up from 69% in 2017).
“Millennials—and now Gen Z—are acutely attuned to business’ wider role in society, and overwhelmingly feel business success should be measured beyond financial performance,” said David Hill, Deloitte Australia’s Chief Operating Officer.
“It’s alarming to see this reversal of confidence in business. This significant group of our workforce feels business is placing too high a premium on its own agenda without considering its contribution to society at large. As our recent Human Capital Trends Survey highlighted, to restore millennials’ trust in business and, by extension, business leaders, companies need to orientate their business toward profit with purpose; and be proactive about making a positive impact in society. This is key to attracting and retaining millennials.”
While millennials’ view of business has declined sharply, their trust in political leaders is even lower. Only 23% believe politicians are having a positive impact on society, compared to 45% believing business is making a difference. Almost two thirds (63%) believe political leaders are actually having a negative impact on society.
Millennials 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 the organisations they work for focus on, millennials cited generating profit, driving efficiencies, and producing or selling goods and services—the three areas they felt should have the least focus. They recognise businesses must make a profit to achieve the priorities millennials desire, but take issue with how business is investing those profits.
Why so pessimistic?
While overall levels of pessimism have improved compared to last year, Australian millennials are still more gloomy than their global counterparts.
Just over a third (39%) of millennials believe they will better off than their parents (compared to 51% globally) and only 35% believe they will be happier (compared to 43% globally). A similar number (31%) expect the overall economic situation in Australia to improve in the next 12 months (on par with a global average of 33%).
“Considering the relative strength of the Australian economy globally, it’s notable that our millennials are so pessimistic,” said David Hill. “However, youth unemployment is at 12.5 per cent, well above the national average of 5.6 per cent, and the rise of the gig economy means work is more uncertain for many. There is a pressing need for us as a nation to prioritise opportunities for our young; they are our future and as digital natives, they hold the keys to our future competitiveness on the global stage.” Over half (53%) of Australian millennials (and 67% of Gen Z) say they regard the gig economy as a viable alternative or supplement to full-time employment.
The survey shows that the concerns of millennials have shifted. Last year crime, corruption, war and political tension were among the top concerns of Australian millennials. This year, climate change, unemployment and income inequality are weighing on their minds.
Culture trumps pay
When choosing a new employer, Australian millennials believe culture is more important than money: 67% rate a positive work environment as the most important consideration (compared to 52% globally), followed by financial rewards/benefits (63% in Australia and globally). Flexibility is ranked as third most important (by 55% in Australia and 50% globally).
Millennials’ loyalty to their current employer is at a similar level to last year: not good. Almost half (44%) of millennials expect to stay with their employer for less than two years. Only 22% say they plan to stay beyond five years.
Gen Z loyalty is even lower, with 59% saying they would expect to stay with their current employer for less than two years and only 16% saying they would stay beyond five years.
“Both millennials and Gen Z place a premium on factors such as tolerance and inclusivity, respect and different ways of thinking,” said David Hill. “While pay and culture attract this cohort to employers, it’s diversity, inclusion and flexibility that keep them there; they’re the keys to keeping millennials and Gen Z happy.
“Those working for employers perceived to have diverse workforces and senior management teams are more likely to want to stay five or more years. And among millennial and Gen Z respondents who said they intend to stay with their current employers for at least five years, 59% note greater flexibility in where and when they work.
“The fluctuating loyalty levels highlight a unique opportunity for Australian employers to double down on attracting and retaining talent. We need to listen to what our employees are telling us and reimagine how we approach talent management, guided by a renewed focus on learning and development to help our millennial and Gen Z employees grow for years to come.”
The robots are coming
Another key concern of millennials is how technology is changing the world of work. The survey asked millennials and Gen Z about the impact on their jobs of ‘Industry 4.0’ (the fourth industrial revolution, characterised by the marriage of physical and digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive computing and the internet of things).
In Australia, 45% of millennials believed that Industry 4.0 would augment their job, allowing them to focus on more creative, human and value-adding work. Gen Z were more pessimistic, with less than a third (32%) thinking technology would augment their job and a quarter (24%) saying it would replace part or all of their job’s responsibilities (18% of millennials believe this).
To help prepare them for the brave new world of work, millennials are primarily looking to their employers (40% cite business as most responsible for educating them, versus 18% saying government). Millennials also rank ‘opportunities for continuous learning’ as the fourth most important consideration when choosing a new employer. But Australian companies are lagging their global counterparts in rising to the challenge: just 27% of millennials in Australia say their employers are helping them prepare for Industry 4.0, compared to 36% globally.
“Young professionals are looking for learning that’s far broader than technical knowledge,” said David Hill. “They are especially seeking the ‘soft’ skills they believe will be important as jobs evolve, such as interpersonal skills, critical thinking, judgment, innovation and creativity. Unsurprisingly, these are all skills less likely to be replaced by robots or artificial intelligence.
“These trends present opportunities for businesses and governments to change how we operate and how we engage the millennial workforce. We all must reinvent to stay relevant - at both an organisational and individual level.”
About the Survey
The 2018 report is based on the views of 10,455 millennials across 36 countries (337 in Australia). Millennials included in the study were born between January 1983 and December 1994 and represent a specific group of this generation—those who have college or university degrees, are employed full time, and work predominantly in large, private-sector organisations. Millennials are increasingly taking on senior positions in which they can influence how their organisations address society’s challenges.
This report also includes responses from 1,844 Gen Z respondents in Australia (307), Canada, China, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 1999. All are currently studying for or have obtained a first/higher degree. More than a third are working either full time (16%) or part time (21%).