Review: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

By | February 2, 2016

Deloitte surveyed of 7,700 millennials globally here. The respondents were folks born after 1982 with college degrees, working in large organizations (100+) across 29 different countries. You work with millennials everyday – anyone under 33 years.

As I have lots of opinions (nice thing about having a blog), see my comments in green.

“Remarkable absence of loyalty” This is how Deloitte phrased the fact that in the survey 66% of people said they would likely leave their employer in the next 5 years. Basically, 1 in 4 millennial will likely leave their job each year. This is a challenge for US employers since millennials are the largest demographic segment of the workforce.

This does not surprise me – this is exactly the advice I give younger undergraduates and MBAs. Seek out skills, capabilities, relationships, and networks. Companies are amorphous brands, organizations, products, and distribution channels stitched together by ERP systems and history. Find good hard work and make yourself more valuable. 

I believe firmly in loyalty to people (boss, customers, peers, yourself) and your work. Everything else is a secondary. Perhaps this is my bias as a consultant – but you have to seek out projects which will make you more valuable. To me, not controversial. 

“Leadership skills not being fully developed” Apparently, one of the greatest points of dissatisfaction is the lack of leadership opportunities. This groups sees leadership as the skill or attribute that the market prizes (and pays) the most for, and they are not getting adequate opportunities to flex those muscles.

This I disagree with. Perhaps this is my Generation X nature, but my questions is how much “leadership” can you really show with such limited experience?  I have seen newbies “experiment” on their teams, customers, and peers with misguided leadership. It’s painful to watch and disrespectful. Your leadership at the cost of other people is not acceptable. Your NET GAIN cannot be with a NET LOSS of other people.

Leadership is taking calculated risks – and honestly – is a privilege, not an assignment or specific role. Should you be given management opportunities? (of course), Should you be given undeserved leadership opportunities (it depends, probably not).

“Business has a positive impact on society” It was encouraging to read that 73% of respondents have a positive view on the role of business, in spite of all the market turmoil, occasional scandals, and fodder found in newspapers.

Bravo. Too many publicly-traded companies and managers (not leaders) are myopic and quickly sacrifice the environment, their people, and their customers for short-term gain. To me, the goal and beauty of capitalism done right is long-term greed. 

“Put employees first” This is a dramatic departure from the shareholder view that I was (mis)taught in business school just 10 years ago, and perhaps shows a more global view than what you would hear from a typical free market-minded American.

I largely agree with this too. In a world where customer service is a core element of any product (e.g., automobile, healthcare etc), customers satisfaction will NEVER be higher than employee satisfaction. If your call center reps, schedulers, receptionists, analysts, and technicians are not happy then. . . your customers will feel that angst.

Consultantsmind - Millennial Survey

“Values guide where Millennials work, what assignments they will accept” This is a fascinating finding that millennials believe their values are shared by the organization they work for. Furthermore, 56% of them have identified companies they would never work because of value / moral reasons. Almost half (49%) have refused a task at work because moral or ethical reasons.

I have some cynicism with this one.

First of all, if they are so aligned with their current company, why are they going to leave?  Second, I grew up in a conservative-minded household, and also worked overseas for 7 years so this is quite foreign to me. I cannot imagine what my Fortune 500 boss would ask me to do that would get to “refuse” to do it because of my ethics. 

Rebuttal From Tomm in the comments below.  Very good, reasonable example which argues the contrary. See a portion of Tomm’s comment in red below:

My friend refused run an optimization project for a tobacco company, simply because he’s against everything this industry stands for, for me it’s fully understandable.  

I think that being loyal to your company for the sake of loyalty = being lazy. Everything changes, when I look at my employer I see new branding, new strategy, new people around and it’s all within last 2 years. It’s not the same company, what’s more these days I have different priorities. I get a lot of resumes of people who jump from one employer to another every 2 years or even less, are they of low ethics? I don’t think so.

Finally, I understand this is a global survey. Yes, there are many countries where business practices are still rough; places where it is kind of Mad-Men – not friendly to women, minorities, or outsiders. Yes, I can imagine why some people would respond this way. My only pause is that this too often can be an excuse for not doing the work.

Consultantsmind - Millennial Survey 2“Not employer focused” From this 2×2 graphic below, it’s clear that millennials are focused on their own situation – income, quality of work, morality/ethics, skills and career path. Do the things in the grey-shaded box represent this mindset?

Not surprising. I would argue that has always been the case. Capitalism = long-term greediness. No one WANTS to a company cog, or die a company loyalist for no clear reason, other than it is who pays them to show up. 

What I think has changed is the patience level, grit, and willingness to endure. Millennials – as symbols of their time – simply understand that there are multiple career options, a talent shortage, ability to harness disruptive technology, and opportunity cost.

Consultantsmind - Millennial Survey 3

“Work/life balance comes before career progression” Millennials want to enjoy both their work and their life. . which is shown by the #1, #3, #4, #6, #7 responses below.

As I have become mid-career  I can empathize with this orientation. Work and life are two sides of the same thing. Also, as a consultant I am just as likely to work on a Saturday night, as I am to go to the dentist during a weekday when I am not traveling. It is a much more integrated view of life . . . and perhaps healthier.

I agree with a lot of this.  What is different, and perhaps a sign of the abrupt maturity of the millennials, is that I certainly did not think this way coming out of school.

Are they simply ahead of their (expected) age in terms of maturity?

Consultantsmind - Millennial Survey 5

I am a Gen-X and often complain about millennials. Too often, I described them as selfish, spoiled, or just self-involved. From this survey, I realize that they are confident in what they want in life and not willing to wait until they are 50-60 years old to craft the work/life they want. Yes, they are selfish. Yes, they are self-involved.

Yes, they are a lot more like everyone else. Believe that my generation of Gen X managers are just frustrated because they are often-times not good listeners and sometimes impatient. Call it fierce individualism, call it non-committal. It’s as if they would like to just SWIPE RIGHT, or UNLIKE things they don’t want to do.

This can be a fiery topic. Let me know what you think.

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9 thoughts on “Review: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

  1. Scarlettong

    Hi, thanks for the blog post!

    I agree with the point that you brought up under the “Values guide where Millennials work, what assignments they will accept” header about why millennials would leave their company if they are so aligned with its values?

    I think that the 64% of senior millennials’ & 49% of junior millennials’ responses contradict the first point about “Remarkable absence of loyalty”. As a millennial who strongly encourages loyalty, personal moral & ethics, I find it funny to see how millennials claim to make work decisions based on personal morality/ethics but are not very loyal to their companies. Isn’t loyalty tied to personal ethics?

    Just a thought that I would like to bring up. Keep up with the interesting blogs!

    1. consultantsmindadmin Post author

      Thanks for the comment and reading.

  2. Tomm

    Senior millennial here, cannot agree with two things:

    1) “I cannot imagine what my Fortune 500 boss would ask me to do that would get to “refuse” to do it because of my ethics.”

    My friend refused run an optimization project for a tobacco company, simply because he’s against everything this industry stands for, for me it’s fully understandable.

    2) “I find it funny to see how millennials claim to make work decisions based on personal morality/ethics but are not very loyal to their companies.”

    I think that being loyal to your company for the sake of loyalty = being lazy. Everything changes, when I look at my employer I see new branding, new strategy, new people around and it’s all within last 2 years. It’s not the same company, what’s more these days I have different priorities. I get a lot of resumes of people who jump from one employer to another every 2 years or even less, are they of low ethics? I don’t think so.

    1. consultantsmindadmin Post author

      Thanks for example #1. Excellent example will amend blog to include. Give me 12 hours to do that.

      Agreed that blind loyalty is stupid and situations change. For me, perhaps a gen x thing, when I see resumes of people who move every two years or less, I do see it as a problem. . . Unlikely a problem with ethics, but more likely one of fit, patience, professionalism, or discernment.

      Everyone has resumes with different companies, roles, and good/bad bosses. My wife was an executive recruiter about 15 years ago, and she will tell you that a resume with too much (or too little) hopping around is not good.

      Thanks for comments and good example.

  3. Frank E

    I’m a baby boomer, and a consultant. The attitude amongst my peers when I graduated was that we would change jobs every couple of years in order to progress our careers. Staying in one job was seen as ‘getting stuck’. It was believed to be very difficult to ‘progress through the ranks’, and in any case that would most likely result in you just exemplifying the adage “rising to the level of your incompetence” – not moving around meant you did not get the breadth of experience and knowledge necessary to succeed at the higher jobs. I’m not sure what has (supposedly) changed …

    Also, did the Deloitte report really conclude that 1 in 4 millennial will leave their job each year? If 66% will leave in 5 years then one-fifth of this 66% will leave each year, that’s 2 in every 15 using ‘correct’ math, or just over 1 in 8, not 1 in 4!

    1. consultantsmindadmin Post author

      Like your perspective that job flexibility for career management has always been around. Refreshing to hear, but I wonder if the time frames have changed. Used to be 5-7 years in one role, but now 0nly 2-3 years per role, I wonder. Also, certainly the ability to e-lance is so much greater than it used to be.

      Will check the Deloitte math again. If anyone made a mistake, it will be, not the accountant deloitters. Heh heh.

  4. David Zayas

    Hi Consultantsmindadmin,

    I found your post quite insightful from the commentaries you made about some of the positives and negatives of these statistics based on your experience as a consultant. As a current undergraduate business student heading into the workforce soon (who will probably have a millennial for a boss), I would like to address possible reasons as to why you may find millennials to be “impatient” and how their absence of loyalty may be more controversial than you think. Two large factors are at play in their “fierce individualism”: higher opportunity costs than previous generations and their familiarity with instantly available information via the internet. Amy Wilkinson, a lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business(1), points out that fewer millennials are starting their own businesses because of their risk-averse nature caused by substantially higher student loan debt than previous generations. I find that the high opportunity costs millennials now face because of this debt is the same reason why they are less willing to wait many years for a job that offers them the proper mix of purpose, money, and work/life balance. They figure that they need to make good use of their expensive quality education as soon as possible. In terms of the work they do, their “non-committal” attitude is attributable to how adept they are to accessing online information. Ivey Business Journal’s(2) analysis of millennials show that they would rather work on problems that require creative solutions instead of ones that can be solved by a quick (or thorough) Google search . As such, their lack of “grit” seems to be coming from boredom.

    The disloyal nature of millennials caused by these phenomenon should definitely not be taken lightly, especially when it comes to its impact on corporate culture. For example, Haas Business School lecturer Steve Blank(3) references the importance of “heroes”—those who have stories told about them exemplifying exceptional work—in maintaining a corporate culture. Not only are these heroes role models for new associates and their peers alike, but they also help management promote a culture they strive for through rewards and recognition. In the probable event that these millennials become heroes in the short-term and leave, a part of that firms culture leaves with them. The irony of this is that as millennials participate in inadvertently damaging their previous employer’s culture, they are actively looking for and are more attracted to a firm with a distinct culture that matches their values. Deloitte’s survey is not the only example of this as a recent Forbes article by human resources analyst Josh Bersin(4) pulls from multiple sources (including more Deloitte data) to say that “companies that focus on culture are becoming icons for job seekers”. From what I see, the contrast between disloyalty and culture admiration may cause a vicious cycle for employers and job seekers alike; a new employee might join a company for the culture, watch it fade, then leave and do the same thing over and over again.

    Sources:
    (1) http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/08/25/why-millennials-arent-starting-businesses-and-why-thats-a-problem/
    (2) http://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/the-millennials-a-new-generation-of-employees-a-new-set-of-engagement-policies/
    (3) http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2015/09/10/hacking-a-corporate-culture-stories-heroes-and-rituals-in-startups-and-companies/
    (4) http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2015/03/13/culture-why-its-the-hottest-topic-in-business-today/

    1. consultantsmindadmin Post author

      Solid contribution. Thank you.

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