In its 10th year, the Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey reveals two generations pushing for social change and accountability
- A majority of young people believe we are at a tipping point on key societal issues including climate change, inequality, and discrimination.
- One in five global millennials and in six Ukraine millennials feel discriminated against all of the time or frequently because of an aspect of their background.
- Approximately 40% do not feel their employers have done enough to support their mental well-being during the pandemic
Kyiv, 5 July 2021— After a year of intense uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, racial discord, and severe climate events, millennials and Gen Zs around the world are determined to hold themselves and others accountable on society’s most pressing issues. These generations have long pushed for social change, but many now feel the world is at a pivotal moment. They are demanding accountability to drive changes that will result in a more equitable and sustainable world.
Deloitte 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, now in its 10th year, finds respondents are channeling their energies toward meaningful action—increasing political involvement, aligning spending and career choices with their values, and driving change on societal issues that matter most to them. In turn, as we have repeatedly found over the years, young people expect institutions like businesses and governments to do more.
“In the 10 years Deloitte has been conducting the Millennial Survey, millennials and Gen Zs’ lives have changed, but their values have remained steadfast. They have sustained their idealism, their desire for a better world, and their belief that business can and should do more to help society,” said Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer.
“For the second time, Ukraine is participating in a survey of millennials and Gen Zs, who are becoming increasingly uncompromising, given changes in the world. These Ukrainian generations have become even more demanding of business and employers, more interested about financial and environmental issues, and their concerns about corruption and political instability remain high for the second year in a row,” said Natalia Tymchenko, Manager of Human Capital Advisory Services at Deloitte Ukraine.
What is causing the most concern among young people globally and in Ukraine?
Climate change and protecting the environment was global millennials’ No. 1 personal concern a year ago. Perhaps unsurprising, this year, health and unemployment fears topped the list of personal concerns for global millennials. Yet, their continued focus on environmental issues (coming in third), and the fact that it remains the No. 1 concern for Gen Z—even during a global pandemic, when other threats to their health, family welfare, and careers may feel more imminent—demonstrates how important this issue is for young people.
However, Ukrainian millennials have slightly differing reasons for concern, which is due to our realities. Business and politics topped Ukrainian youth’ list of concerns. Political instability and military conflicts in the country were in second place (though they came first last year). In addition, our millennials are concerned about health and disease prevention, while Gen Zs – about unemployment.
Young people seek employers who care about the environment
Many millennials (37% globally and 41% in Ukraine) and Gen Zs (40% globally and 46% in Ukraine) believe that more people will commit to take action on environmental and climate issues after the pandemic. This could include anything from recycling more to increasing use of public transportation, to changing their eating and shopping habits. As consumers, millennials and Gen Zs continue to make decisions aligned with their values. More than a quarter of millennials and Gen Zs say businesses’ impact (both positive and negative) on the environment has influenced their buying decisions.
However, approximately 60% of millennials and Gen Zs fear business’ commitment to helping combat climate change will be less of a priority as business leaders reckon with challenges brought on by the pandemic. In Ukraine, this figure is even higher – 66% of millennials and 72% of Gen Zs.
More than half of millennials and Gen Zs experienced discrimination
Gen Zs, six in 10 Gen Zs globally and 48% in Ukraine, and millennials, 56% globally and 41% in Ukraine, say systemic racism is widespread in general society. However, the past year has prioritized the issue of racial discrimination. More than half of all survey respondents believe society is “at a tipping point and there will be positive change from this point forward.” Millennials and Gen Zs are doing what they can to address the problem, but are also looking to government and other institutions to accelerate change.
The issue is personal for many. One in five respondents feel personally discriminated against “all the time” or “frequently” because of an aspect of their backgrounds. A quarter of global respondents and 1 in 5 respondents in Ukraine feel they have experienced discrimination by their governments, and approximately the same number feel they have been targeted on social media. Globally, 34% of millennials and 38% of Gen Zs believe racism in the workplace is systemic. In Ukraine, these figures are lower – 17% and 29% respectively.
Because discrimination can become embedded in organizations over time, three in five respondents agree that positive change will only come from the top down—from a change in attitude and actions from those in power. Yet, they don’t believe institutions are living up to their potential. When asked to rank who is making the greatest effort to reduce systemic racism, individuals and activists topped the list ahead of education systems, the legal system and governments.
The role of business in the conversation is uncertain and is potentially downplayed by millennials and Gen Zs. Business’ perceived potential to help bring about significant change is about half that of individuals, education systems, and government. And in terms of who is making the greatest effort to address systemic racism, businesses and business leaders ranked last among the eight choices offered. The same trend is observed both, globally and in Ukraine.
To fill the void left by institutions, young people are taking change into their own hands. Respondents say they are educating others, sharing informational content on social platforms, voting for progressive politicians, and boycotting businesses and brands that don’t share their values on the topic of discrimination.
Stress and anxiety permeate the workplace, highlighting a growing need for business to focus on better workplace mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought stress to the forefront of social consciousness—41% of millennials and 47% of Gen Zs feel stressed all or most of the time. Finances, family welfare, and job prospects have been the main stress drivers.
This stress spills over into the workplace. About a third of all respondents (31% of global millennials and 29% of Ukraine millennials; 35% of global Gen Zs and 33% of Ukraine Gen Zs) have taken time off work due to stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic. However, nearly half of global respondents gave their employer a different reason for their absence, likely due to a continuing stigma around mental health in the workplace. In fact, only 38% of millennials and 35% of Gen Zs, globally, have felt comfortable enough to speak openly with their supervisors about the stress they’re feeling. And approximately 40% say their employers have done a poor job supporting their mental health during the pandemic. In Ukraine, only 17% of millennials and 28% of Gen Zs have admitted being comfortable enough to tell their employers about their fears.
Pandemic heightens financial worries and concerns about wealth inequality
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened young people’s uncertainty about their financial futures. Two-thirds of all respondents say they “often worry or get stressed” about their financial situations. The same number say that the pandemic has caused them to reassess and alter their financial goals. Looking ahead, only 36% of millennials and 40% of Gen Zs believe their personal financial situations will improve by 2022.
In Ukraine, the situation is even more worrying – eight in 10 millennials and nine in 10 Gen Zs are stressed out about their financial situation, but only seven in 10 have rethought their financial goals. Despite the above, they remain quite optimistic – 56% of millennials and 44% of Gen Zs predict an improvement of their personal financial situation by the next year.
While personal financial concerns increasingly are on young people’s minds, so is wealth inequality as a larger societal issue. Two-thirds of millennials (69%) and Gen Zs (66%) surveyed globally think wealth and income is distributed unequally throughout society. Financial inequality has been reported by a much higher percentage of the Ukrainians – 88% of millennials and 84% of Gen Zs.
Many believe government intervention may be needed to drive change. Nearly a third of all respondents have voted for or otherwise supported politicians who want to reduce income inequality. Roughly 60% of global respondents and over 60% of respondents in Ukraine say legislation to limit the gap in rewards between senior executives and average employees would significantly help, as would legislation that requires business to pay workers at least the minimum required to live on (in Ukraine, these figures are lower – 48% of millennials and 58% of Gen Zs). And more than half of respondents say universal basic income could help remedy this issue.
“COVID-19 has affected the whole world; Ukrainian millennials and Gen Zs are no exception. However, they sometimes have an even more categorical opinion about some issues than representatives of these generations in other countries. In particular, most Ukrainian millennials and Gen Zs believe that the pandemic is an issue that affects everyone without exception (78% and 84% respectively) as opposed to the opinion of global millennials and Gen Zs (63% and 60% respectively). At the same time, in Ukraine, these generations expressed more optimism that the society can cope with such changes in the future: 53% of millennials and 71% of Gen Zs feel optimistic versus global 48% and 51%, respectively,” noted Natalia Tymchenko.
Views on business’ social impact continues to decline, as job loyalty slips
Continuing a steady decline over the last few years, less than half of millennials (47% globally and 44% in Ukraine) and Gen Zs (48% globally and 41% in Ukraine) think business is having a positive impact on society. This marks the first time that global figure has dipped below 50%. Of note, it has dropped almost 30 points since 2017.
Job loyalty also slipped a bit from last year’s record high. More millennials and Gen Zs would, if given the opportunity, leave their current employers within two years (36% and 53% respectively, compared to 31% and 50% in 2020) while about the same say they plan to stay at least five years (34% millennials, 21% Gen Zs). And, 44% of millennials and 49% of Gen Zs say they have made choices over the type of work they are prepared to do and the organizations they are willing to work for based on their personal ethics over the past two years.
The same trend is observed in Ukraine. 49% of millennials and 64% of Gen Zs would leave their current employers within two years, if an opportunity occurs. This figure has gone up compared to 2020, when 40% of millennials expressed their readiness for such a change. In Ukraine, 25% of millennials and 13% of Gen Zs plan to stay at least five years, which is down by 2 points year on year.
For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte's 2021 Millennial Survey, visit: https://deloi.tt/3ADRLAr.
The 2021 report solicited the views of 14,655 millennials and 8,273 Gen Zs (22,928 respondents total) from 45 countries across North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. In Ukraine, 200 millennials and 100 Gen Zs participated in the survey. The survey was conducted using an online, self-complete-style interview. Fieldwork was completed between 8 January and 18 February 2021.
This year’s report marks the first time Deloitte Global researched millennials and Gen Zs in the same number of countries. Last year, Gen Zs were surveyed in just 20 countries. Year-to-year comparisons of Gen Z responses were influenced by the addition of 25 new geographies and should be considered accordingly.
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.
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