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The Disconnect Between Millennials and Employers

Deloitte Survey Reflects the Importance of Purpose-Driven Objectives

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey reports the results of 10,455 millennials (Gen Y) questioned across 36 countries. This year’s survey shows Gen Y’s opinion of business motivation and ethics is at the lowest point in three years. About 20 percent said reputation for ethical behavior, diversity and inclusion, as well as workplace wellbeing were important when choosing an employer.

When asked whether they believe in their employer’s priorities (i.e., profits), millennials responded with a resounding no! The percentage who think this is what their employer’s objectives should be are as follows:

Generating jobs      43%     Improving society      39%               Generating profits      24%

The percentage who think this is what their employer’s objectives are is as follows:

Generating jobs      25%     Improving society      25%               Generating profits       51%

The Deloitte survey reflects the growing need for inclusion, flexibility in the workplace and a positive work culture. Millennials rated as very important: pay (63%), culture (52%), and flexibility (50%). This year’s survey saw millennials’ view of business motivations fall to its lowest level in three years with less than one-half responding that businesses behave ethically, while 83 percent believe businesses focus more on their bottom line over the good of the greater society.

I have previously blogged about what millennials look for in the workplace on a micro level. This includes: Millennials

  • Opportunity for growth and development.
  • Developing leadership skills.
  • Mentoring and feedback on a regular basis.
  • Opportunity to work remotely and telecommute.
  • Collaborative work environment.
  • Using technology and digital communication to enhance networking and socialization.
  • Work-life integration.
  • Concern for their workplace and social media reputations.
  • Respect for personal and family values gains their loyalty and trust.
  • Dedication to a cause (i.e., environmentalism); serving a greater good.

Obviously, pay is a concern, but it shares the stage with other, more outward-centered objectives. The disconnect between employer goals and millennials’ expectations of employers is due to millennials’ commitment to purpose as well as profit. This is nothing new. Most surveys have shown similar results. Still, employers lag in transitioning their objectives to include a purpose-driven mission. Of course, corporate social responsibility is still a priority for most employers, but the scope of that objective has not widened to include issues broadly thought of as “social enterprise.”

Social enterprise supports the notion of a “triple-bottom-line” organization – those simultaneously seeking profits, social impact, and environmental sustainability. Enterprises that tackle social impact and/or environmental sustainability issues are involved in causes such as free clinics for low-income communities, providing access to affordable prescription glasses to people in the developing world who are otherwise functionally blind, upcycling packaging and other non-recyclable consumer waste, providing access to water and providing reliable energy resources to those in the developing world.

The Deloitte survey reflects the importance of ethics skills. Millennials said the top “essential skills” for long-term success are: interpersonal skills (36%), confidence and motivation (35%), and ethics and integrity (33%). I find these results encouraging because it seems that millennials are moving in the right direction and the usual criticisms of them – i.e., they are self-centered, lack a good work ethic, and not committed to organizational goals is shifting to redefining those goals in a way that puts the needs of society and the environment first and profits on an equal par. This is good. This is right.

Corporations can be a force for positive change given their scope and resources. We can’t depend on the government to do everything for us. We need engaged corporations, working with non-governmental organizations, to usher in a period of purpose-driven activities that serve others while, at the same time, bringing in sustainable profits.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on May 31, 2018. Visit my website and sign up for my Newsletter.