Field Notes: What Millennial Workers Want

Deloitte’s fifth annual Millennial Survey highlights the gap between Millennials and their employers around what values build long-term business success.

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This year, Deloitte collected opinions from nearly 7,700 college-educated Millennials in 29 countries—all employed at large, privately-held firms—for their 2016 Millennial Survey. As a generation, Millennials hold strong views of business and its potential impact on society, considering social practices as essential to long-term business success. 

Most relevant to us at Heron was to see that Millennials believe that the foundations of business success go far beyond financial performance. They put their values into play both when choosing (and rejecting) employers and how they approach their work: nearly half have "chosen not to undertake a task at work because it went against their personal values or ethics." A profits-at-all-costs culture alienates Millennials, but a focus on employee development and well-being, and sustainable business practices inspires loyalty, hard work and belief in their business's long-term success.

Much of the discussion around Millennials illustrates their focus on individuals, but Deloitte also shows that the generation is keenly aware of their economic surroundings and how to succeed:

Millennials are not naive, though. While they certainly wish to see a greater focus on the needs of the individual, whether employees or those who use their products and services, they simultaneously demonstrate an appreciation of business fundamentals. This generation is acutely aware of the impact of the Great Recession and closely attuned to changing economic conditions (see Economic Outlook section). They, therefore, recognize the importance of ensuring the long-term success of a business and its ability to support and create jobs.

The key to this long-term business success, say Millennials, is to put employees first, and to work with a strong foundation of trust and integrity. In previous Deloitte surveys, this group has said that businesses’ greatest contribution to society was the financial benefit associated with job creation. This trend continues, with more equating "employee satisfaction/loyalty/fair treatment" with long-term success than "quality/reliability" and "good products" combined.

Much of the survey focused on the viewpoint that business can have a positive impact on society. Eighty-seven percent of respondents believe that “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance,” and 73 percent regard business as having a positive impact on society. Despite having high aspirations for what business can and should accomplish, however, many are skeptical that business is fulfilling those goals, or even taking broader social outcomes into consideration:

In short, Millennials share some of their employers' values, but would place more value on treating people well—via solid incomes, workforce development and leadership training, and products and services that improve lives—versus pursuing profit, prestige and growth:

 

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