“The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.”
These inspiring words are by President John F. Kennedy. But do they apply to the current millennial generation?
Unfortunately, much of the focus on the millennial generation has been based on negative perceptions and stereotypes of the group.
A recent survey presents another side. When it comes to the workplace, there are often multiple generations working together and sometimes that is difficult to navigate. But there is value in generational differences, even when it includes millennials..
Here’s some trustworthy data that might give you a different impression of the value millennials bring to businesses and organizations.
Deloitte, a top public accounting firm that serves about 80 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies, recently conducted its 2017 Millennial Survey with almost 8,000 millennials born after 1982 from 30 countries. Each respondent has earned a college degree and is employed full-time. Here are the six major findings:
1. Millennials in developed countries, like the United States and the United Kingdom, feel pessimistic, while optimism reigns in emerging markets, like China and Russia. There are distinct differences as to what concerns millennials in each group.
2. In the current environment, millennials appear more loyal to their employers than this time last year. In a time of great uncertainty in economies and politics, stability in the workplace is appealing and millennials would be inclined to reject offers for freelance work or as consultants.
3. The work of business, in general, is viewed positively by millennials and most believe it is behaving in an increasingly responsible manner; but, millennials believe business is not fully realizing its potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges.
4. Businesses frequently provide opportunities for millennials to engage with “good causes,” such as supporting local charitable efforts, helping young professionals to feel empowered while reinforcing positive associations between businesses’ activities and social impact.
5. Flexible working schedules continue to encourage loyalty and make a significant contribution to overall business performance by millennials.
6. Automation is rapidly becoming a feature of working environments. For some, it encourages creative thinking and provides opportunities to develop new skills. For others, automation poses a threat to jobs and is creating sterile workplaces.
The report shares that millennials, especially those in more mature European economies, have serious apprehensions about the directions in which their countries are going. Millennials are also concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, crime, corruption and unemployment rates.
In the survey, millennials responded that they do not view themselves as mere observers. Increasingly and collectively, they think they have the potential to change the world around them. This is especially true within the workplace. Business has the potential to be a force for positive change — a core belief of the millennial generation.
Millennials that were provided opportunities to serve their communities — and 54 percent said they were — show a greater level of loyalty to their employer, are less pessimistic about social situations in the workplace, and have a more positive opinion of business behavior. Findings show that empowered millennials tend to be more optimistic and loyal.
The millennials that responded in the survey consider themselves to have a significant degree of accountability for the world’s largest challenges. For example, six in 10 surveyed think they have at minimum a fair amount of accountability for protecting the environment. Forty percent follow or take an active interest in charity. Thirty percent actively volunteer. Thirty percent support charitable efforts with membership or regular donations.
Those surveyed preferred plain, straight-talk language from politicians and business leaders. Millennials are accepting of people sharing opinions with passion and those seeking to appeal to “isolated” individuals or those perceived to be “left out.” Overall, millennials reject leaders who take on controversial positions or aim for transformation that is radical rather than gradual.
Last year’s Deloitte Millennial Survey implied that respondents lacked loyalty. Many anticipated leaving their respective employers in the next two to five years. In the last year, it seems those ambitions have tempered. The data from this year suggests that millennials in the U.S. are more loyal and more likely to stay beyond five years with their organization than to leave within two years.
Globally, two-thirds of millennials say their employers have adopted flexible work arrangements. These flexible arrangements might include flexibility in time, the functions of the role to be performed, and the location in which work is conducted. One might think with so much flexibility millennials may be less likely to feel accountable to the work performed, but just the opposite is true. Accountability and flexibility are highly correlated.
This report is available for free access online at https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-deloitte-millennial-survey-2017-executive-summary.pdf.
Take a gander and join the conversation. What positive value do you think millennials add to the workplace?
Amanda Schagane serves as a career coach in the Gatton College of Business & Economics at UK. She is designated a Master Career Counselor by the National Career Development Association and has served as president for the Kentucky chapter of the organization. Join her on LinkedIn or email her at Amanda.Goldsmith@uky.edu.