Millennial message clear as outdated businesses lag behind

Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits in the 21st century.

Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits in the 21st century.

That’s according to Deloitte’s fourth annual Millennial Survey which suggests that businesses, particularly in developed markets, will need to make “significant changes” to attract and retain the future workforce.

Deloitte Global surveyed tomorrow’s leaders, from 29 countries, on effective leadership, how business operates and impacts society.

Findings show that Millennials overwhelmingly believe (75 percent) businesses are focused on their own agenda rather than helping to improve society.

“The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits,” says Barry Salzberg, CEO, Deloitte Global.

“These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community, particularly in developed markets, that they need to change the way they engage Millennial talent or risk being left behind.”

Only 28 percent of Millennials feel their current organisation is making full use of their skills.

More than half (53 percent) aspire to become the leader or most senior executive within their current organisation, with a clear ambition gap between Millennials in emerging markets and developed markets.

Sixty-five percent of emerging-market based Millennials said they would like to achieve this goal, compared to only 38 percent in developed markets. This figure was also higher among men.

Additionally, the survey found large global businesses have less appeal for Millennials in developed markets (35 percent) compared to emerging markets (51 percent).

Developed-market based Millennials are also less inclined (11 percent) than Millennials in emerging markets (22 percent) to start their own business.

According to Salzberg, Millennials want to work for organisations with purpose.

For six in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers.

Among Millennials who are relatively high users of social networking tools (the “super-connected Millennials”), there appears to be even greater focus on business purpose; 77 percent of this group report their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there, compared to just 46 percent of those who are the “least connected.”


Technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) most attractive employers with TMT ranking most desirable sector and the one to provide the most valuable skills according to Millennials.

Men (24 percent) were nearly twice as likely as women (13 percent) to rank TMT as the number one sector to work in.

Among broader sectors, leadership is perceived to be strongest in the TMT sector (33 percent) - this percentage was three times higher than second ranked food and beverages (10 percent), and four times that for third-ranked banking/financial services (8 percent).

In addition, when asked about the businesses that most resonated with Millennials as leaders, Google and Apple top the list of businesses, each selected by 11 percent of respondents.


Confidence Gap? Salzberg claims that Millennial men more likely to pursue leadership. Millennial men were somewhat more likely to say they would like to secure the ‘top job’ within their organisation than women (59 percent vs. 47 percent).

Women were also less likely to rank their leadership skills at graduation as strong; 27 percent of men vs. 21 percent of women rated this skill as strong.

However, when asked what they would emphasise as leaders women were more likely to say employee growth and development (34 percent compared to 30 percent), an area that many Millennials felt was lacking within their current organisations.

Organisations and colleges must do more to nurture emerging leaders. While overall Millennials did not feel their organisations make full use of their skills (only 28 percent say their organisation makes full use of their skills), this figure falls significantly among Millennials in developed markets to just 23 percent.

Also, Salzberg says the changing characteristics of leadership mean that today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19 percent), well-networked (17 percent), and technically-skilled (17 percent) leaders.

Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39 percent), inspirational (37 percent), personable (34 percent) and visionary (31 percent).

“Millennials want more from business than might have been the case 50, 20, or even 10 years ago,” Salzberg adds.

“They are sending a very strong signal to the world’s leaders that when doing business, they should do so with purpose. The pursuit of this different and better way of operating in the 21st century begins by redefining leadership.”

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