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Deloitte survey reveals “resilient generation”: Millennials and Gen Zs hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic, yet view this period as an opportunity to reset, take action  

News Release

  • Many respondents indicate feeling stressed most of the time, citing family welfare, long-term financial futures, and job prospects personal long-term financial future, family’s welfare, and job/career prospects as primary causes.
  • The environment remains a top concern as some fear climate change damage is irreversible, but environmental changes during pandemic give some optimism.
  • While views of business continue to decline, millennials and Gen Z will actively support companies that make positive impacts to society.

KUALA LUMPUR – 15 July 2020 — This year’s Deloitte’s Millennial Survey consists of two parts: a “primary” survey of 18,426 millennials and Gen Zs across 43 countries conducted between November 2019 and early January 2020, and a “pulse” survey of 9,102 individuals over 13 countries taken between April and May of 2020 in the midst of the worldwide pandemic. Many questions from the first study were repeated to gauge the effect of the pandemic on opinions.

The picture that emerges from this year’s survey is complicated but hopeful: Even in the midst of crisis, millennials and Gen Zs are recommitting to improving society, pushing for a world in which businesses and governments mirror their own commitments.

Stress and mental wellness—often amplified by work and financial concerns—remain critical issues

Prior to the pandemic, 46% of Malaysian millennials agrees they feel anxious or stressed all or most of the time. Respondents cited personal long-term financial future (57%), family’s welfare (54%), and job/career prospects (50%) as primary sources of stress.

Interestingly, stress levels fell in the second survey, possibly indicating that the slowdown of life in lockdown may have reduced stress levels.

Despite the slight declines seen in the pulse survey, stress and mental wellness remain critical issues for young generations and these issues are manifested in work settings. Approximately one-third of millennials and Gen Zs (29% globally/39% in Malaysia) took time off work due to stress before the pandemic, though around half (44% globally/44% Malaysians) told their employers it was for a different reason. Encouragingly, flexible working arrangements—which were widely implemented as a result of the pandemic—may present one solution. Sixty-nine percent of millennials and 64% of Gen Zs agreed having the option to work from home in the future would relieve stress.

Financial concerns are a particularly acute stressor for millennials, many of whom began their careers in the wake of the Great Recession and now face another downturn. In the primary survey, more millennials (50%) believed their financial situations will worsen or stagnate in the next year than improve (42%). When analysing results from the 13 countries in the pulse survey, 61% of millennial respondents conveyed the same lack of optimism during the pandemic, a seven percentage-point jump from the primary survey. Still, there is some short-term optimism as more than half of millennials in the pulse survey, and nearly half of Gen Zs, say they have savings of roughly three months of income, which may help them as the financial ramifications of the pandemic come to bear.


Determination to improve the world—and expecting others to follow suit


Younger generations take the issue of social purpose as a personal calling. In the pulse survey, respondents indicated they were taking “socially conscious” actions to benefit the planet and society. The COVID-19 crisis may have reinforced these inclinations, as nearly three-fourths said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic to the needs of others, and that they will take action to positively impact their communities.

Millennials and Gen Zs’ focus on doing good is reflected in their purchasing habits as well. About 60% said they plan to buy more products and services from large businesses that have taken care of their workforces and positively impacted society during the pandemic. Around three-quarters will make an extra effort to buy products and services from smaller, local businesses.

Once again, climate change emerged as a critical issue for millennials and Gen Zs both before and during the COVID-19 crisis. Prior to the pandemic, half of respondents said they believe it too late to repair the damage caused by climate change and only 40% globally (39% Malaysians) expressed optimism that future efforts to protect the environment will succeed. However, four months later in the 13 pulse survey countries, the percentage of millennials believing we’ve reached the point of no return dropped by eight points, perhaps suggesting that the environmental impact of reduced activity during the pandemic has given hope that there’s still time to act.

A vast majority (80%) also think governments and businesses need to make greater efforts to protect the environment, yet they are concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic might make this less of a priority.

View of business overall continues to decline despite increase in employer loyalty


The view of business in general around the world continues to wane. In the primary survey, (51% globally/56% in Malaysia) millennials said business is a force for good, down from 76% three years ago and 55% in 2019. In the pulse survey, these numbers continued to decline to 41% for millennials and 43% for Gen Zs (Gen Zs reported 52% favorability in the primary survey).

However—whether employers are finally starting to better meet workers’ needs, or millennials were feeling the need to find stability even before the pandemic—for the first time since asking the question four years ago, more millennials (35% globally/34% Malaysians) in the primary survey said they want to stay with their employers for five or more years than leave within two years, while those who would leave in two years or less dropped from 38% to 23% in Malaysia from 2019-2020.

Respondents were also largely receptive to how employers were navigating the COVID-19 crisis—two-thirds said they were pleased with the speed and manner by which employers acted. Around 60% believe these actions have made them want to stay with their employers for the long term.


Editorial Note: The data and opinions in this press release include the collective insights of both generations and, in some cases, are independent of each other and have been cited accordingly.

The 2020 report is based on two sets of surveys. The first began prior to the COVID-19 outbreak using an online, self-complete-style interview; fieldwork was completed between 21 November 2019 and 8 January 2020. A second survey was conducted in similar fashion between 28 April 2020 and 17 May 2020, in the midst of the worldwide pandemic.
The initial survey solicited the views of 13,715 millennials across 43 countries and 4,711 Generation Z respondents from 20 countries. The subsequent survey questioned 5,501 millennials and 3,601 Gen Zs in 13 large markets that were affected by the pandemic to different degrees. No respondents in the former survey were queried in the latter.
Millennials included in the study were born between January 1983 and December 1994. Generation Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2003.
The report represents a broad range of respondents, from those with executive positions in large organizations to others who are participating in the gig economy, doing unpaid work or are unemployed. Additionally, the Gen Z group includes students who have completed or are pursuing degrees, those who have completed or plan to complete vocational studies, and others who are in secondary school and may or may not pursue higher education.

Press contact

Samantha Yong
Marketing and Communications
+603 7624 3502

Angelyn Ng
Marketing and Communications
+603 7610 8107

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