Deloitte survey reveals that millennials and Gen Z view the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to reset and take action
- Many respondents indicate feeling stressed most of the time, citing family welfare, long-term financial futures, and job prospects as primary causes.
- The environment remains a top concern for millennials and Gen Z across the globe as some respondents fear climate change damage is irreversible, but environmental changes during pandemic give some optimism. The Ukrainian millennials are most concerned with political instability, military conflict, corruption, crime, and personal security.
- While views of business continue to decline, millennials and Gen Z will actively support companies that make positive impacts to society.
In the face of unprecedented health and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, millennials and Gen Z express resolve and a vision to build a better future, the Deloitte survey finds. The 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, now in its ninth year, reveals that both generations remain resilient in the face of adversity and are determined to drive positive change in their communities and around the world.
This year’s survey consists of two parts: a “primary” survey of 18,426 millennials and Gen Z across 43 countries conducted between November 2019 and early January 2020, and a “pulse” survey of 9,102 respondents in 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. This year, Ukraine joined the study for the first time, allowing us to gauge the sentiment of Ukrainian millennials and compare it with the mood of millennials across the globe.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has radically reshaped how we live and work, affecting our physical and mental health. Prior to the pandemic, more than one-third of Ukrainian millennials (38%) said they were stressed all or most of the time compared to almost half of millennials (44%) surveyed across the world,” said Olena Boichenko, Director of Human Capital Advisory Services at Deloitte Ukraine. Family welfare and financial stability were cited as primary sources of stress by respondents across the globe (41% and 41%, respectively) and in Ukraine (80% and 66%, respectively). Physical and mental health is seen as another source of stress. Interestingly, this represents a concern for only 31% of millennials worldwide, compared to 53% of millennials in Ukraine. Therefore, it may be assumed that the pandemic has amplified the importance of these factors. Employee welfare becomes a top priority in personnel management strategies for employers.
As for the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the work of millennials, 17% of millennials in the world and 15% of Ukrainian millennials are concerned that the robotic process automation will fully or partially replace them with the machines. Furthermore, 37% of respondents across the globe and only 13% of Ukrainian respondents cited that they would be able to switch from routine tasks to value-added work. Overall, almost half of Ukrainian respondents (44%) believe that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have no impact on their work as compared to 28% respondents across the world.
The report highlights how the consequences of the pandemic have drastically affected the careers of young workers. At the time of polling, almost 30% of Gen Z and nearly a quarter of millennials (25-30 years old) said they had either lost their jobs or been placed on temporary unpaid leave. Only a third of millennials and 38% of Gen Z taking the pulse survey said their employment and income status had been unaffected.
The picture that emerges from this year’s survey is complicated but hopeful: even in the midst of crisis, millennials and Gen Z are recommitting to improving society, pushing for a world in which businesses and governments mirror their own commitments.
Stress and mental wellness that are often amplified by work and financial concerns continue to remain critical issues
Prior to the pandemic, 52% of Gen Z and 50% of millennials in 13 countries that were surveyed twice said they were stressed all or most of the time. Respondents cited family welfare, long-term finances, and job prospects as primary sources of stress. Interestingly, stress levels fell eight points for both generations in the second survey, possibly indicating that the slowdown of life in lockdown may have reduced stress levels. This is backed by a recent Deloitte UK study of over 2,000 UK workers, which found that 48% of employed and self-employed Londoners say the lockdown has had a positive or very positive impact on their wellbeing.
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 Z took time off work due to stress before the pandemic, though around half told their employers it was for a different reason. The same number of Ukrainian respondents were forced to take leave due to the stress, while only 39% of respondents were ready to accept this reason and voice it to their employer. 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 Z agreed that 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. According to the primary survey results, 50% of millennials believed their financial situations will worsen or stagnate in the next year than improve (42%). When analyzing results from 13 countries included in the pulse survey, 61% of millennial respondents conveyed the same lack of optimism during the pandemic, showing a seven percentage-point jump from the primary survey. However, there is some short-term optimism as more than half of millennials in the pulse survey, and nearly half of Gen Z, say they have savings of roughly three months of income, which may help them to cope with the financial consequences of a pandemic.
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 of respondents said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic to the needs of others, and that they will take action to positively impact their communities.
The focus of millennials and Gen Z 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 employees and positively impacted society during the pandemic. Around three-quarters of respondents will buy products and services from smaller local businesses.
Climate change emerged as a critical issue for millennials and Gen Z both before and during the COVID-19 crisis. Prior to the pandemic, half of respondents said they believe it is too late to repair the damage caused by climate change, and only 40% 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 have 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 is still time to act.
A vast majority (80%) of respondents 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 an increase in employer loyalty
The view of business in general around the world continues to wane. In the primary survey, 51% of 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 Z (the latter 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 in the primary survey said they want to stay with their employers for five or more years than leave within two years. Those who would leave in two years or less dropped from 49% to 31%, while those who’d prefer to stay long-term jumped from 28% to 35%. Gen Z remains more interested in moving, but only half said they would like to change jobs within two years, which is down from 61% last year. As for Ukrainian millennials, 40% of respondents do not plan to stay with their current employer for more than two years, while 27% said they want to stay with their employers for the next five years.
Another interesting result of the study relates to the answers about the feeling of security and safety in the workplace: only 11% of respondents in Ukraine and 23% of respondents across the world feel safe in their role, while half of the survey participants, both in Ukraine and across the world, showed lack of such a feeling.
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.
“As for Ukrainian millennials, among the main reasons for leaving their jobs are the remuneration gap between the company top management and an average employee (33%) and a negative impact of business on the environment (27%). These results suggest that only socially responsible companies can hope for the loyalty of millennials,” says Olena Boichenko. “Despite the fact that almost half (47%) of Ukrainian respondents believe that business has a positive impact on society, the number of those who plan on leaving their current jobs in the next two years is still significant. As the task of retaining people becomes increasingly difficult, businesses need to become socially oriented, both internally and externally. Human-centered approach is not just beautiful words, but an effective formula for organizing work with personnel.”
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 survey began prior to the COVID-19 outbreak using an online 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 Z 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 those who are in secondary school and may or may not pursue higher education.