Deloitte: Future leaders say business must encourage innovation for growth, to retain talent, and positively impact society

Press release

While Millennials value innovation in an employer, only 26 percent of those surveyed believe their current organization’s leaders encourage practices that foster innovation

Davos, Switzerland, 22 January 2013 —  According to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Millennial Survey, 78 percent of the world’s future business leaders believe innovation is essential for business growth.  However, as the economic crisis enters its sixth year, just 26 percent of Millennials feel that business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster innovation.

“Innovation at the institutional level is needed to sufficiently shift an organization’s mindset to allow new ideas to truly emerge and thrive,” said Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg. “While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it’s clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation – not just as a driver of business growth but also as a catalyst for solving society’s most pressing problems.”

DTTL surveyed close to 5,000 Millennials from 18 countries. When gauging the perception among future leaders about innovation and its impact on society, 84 percent say business innovations have a positive impact on society, and 65 percent feel their own company’s activities benefit society in some way.

The business community is regarded as playing a lead role in developing innovations that will benefit society. Almost half of the respondents (45 percent) believe business drives the innovations that most positively impact society, compared to government (18 percent) and academic bodies (17 percent).  

Press contact

Lauren Mistretta

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

Global Communications

Mobile: +1 773 456 8191

Talent as a catalyst for innovation

Innovation is also an important component of talent recruitment and retention. Two-thirds of the Millennials surveyed say innovation is a key factor in making an organization an employer of choice. This is particularly relevant to many companies, attracting the ever-growing number of Millennials, who are forecasted to make up 75 percent of the world’s workforce by 2025.1

However, discrepancies were found when Millennials were asked about the requirements for innovation:

  • 39 percent of respondents believe that encouragement and rewards for idea generation and creativity is a requirement for innovation to occur, whereas only 20 percent say their current organization operates in this way.
  • 34 percent say providing employees with free time to dedicate to learning and creativity is key to an innovative environment, versus 17 percent who characterize their workplace that way.
  • 32 percent consider openness and the freedom to challenge as key to innovation, versus 17 percent who say this is visible in their organizations.
  • 42 percent believe in the importance of encouraging innovative thinking at all levels of the organization, versus 26 percent who describe their places of employment that way.

“A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the ‘old way’ of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire,” said Salzberg. “Real opportunity exists for organizations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society.”


Views on innovation vary by geography and industry

  • Respondents in the BRIC countries consider themselves and their companies to be innovative, while respondents from Japan place their companies at the bottom in nearly every aspect of innovation.  For example, 70 percent of respondents within the BRIC countries rate their employers as innovative, while only 25 percent of respondents in Japan did so.
  • Six in ten (62 percent) would describe themselves as innovative, ranging from India (81 percent), Thailand (79 percent), South Africa (78 percent), and Brazil (77 percent) to Japan (24 percent).
  • 65 percent of respondents feel their company’s activities benefit society, led by Brazil (83 percent), India (74 percent), and Germany (73 percent). Only 46 percent answered affirmatively in South Korea.  
  • The sectors considered to be responsible for the most innovations are: technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) (52 percent); consumer goods/services (47 percent) and manufacturing (37 percent).
  • The sectors considered to be most in need of innovations are: education (27 percent); electric power (18 percent), and national government (17 percent).
The millennial survey 2013

About the Deloitte Millennial Study

The research findings are based on a study conducted by Millward Brown. A total of 4,982 interviews were conducted online between 19 November and 19 December 2012. Approximately 300 interviews were conducted in each of 16 markets: USA, Canada, South Africa, Brazil, the Netherlands, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, South Korea, India, Australia, Japan, China, Southeast Asia (Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia). Screening questions at the recruitment stage ensured that all respondents were Millennials – born January 1982 onwards, were degree educated, and were currently in full-time employment. Interviews lasted approximately 15 minutes.


The millennial innovation

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.  Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited and its member firms.

Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and high-quality service to clients, delivering the insights they need to address their most complex business challenges. Deloitte has in the region of 200,000 professionals, all committed to becoming the standard of excellence.

Did you find this useful?