Millennials want so much more than (just) avocado toast. (photo credit:  Brenda Godinez )

Millennials want so much more than (just) avocado toast. (photo credit: Brenda Godinez)


Millennials and Gen Zs make up over half of the world’s population and together, account for most of the global workforce. They already constitute a significant proportion of global consumers and employees and this will only increase in coming years. It is therefore crucial that businesses take their opinions seriously and understand how they think about the world, what issues are important to them, what they want from the places they work in and what kinds of businesses they will (or won’t) buy from.


A recent survey by Deloitte, based on the views of 13,416 millennials across 42 countries and 3,009 Gen Zs from 10 countries, provides some interesting insights into what the younger generations think about the world of work. The survey found that most millennials and Gen Zs feel ‘uneasy’ and ‘pessimistic’ about their careers. This is understandable, considering many entered the labour market during the great recession, or in the years of slow growth that followed. In the US, millennials are experiencing less economic growth in their first decade of work than any other generation and have lower real incomes, fewer assets and higher levels of debt than previous generations at a similar age. This is similar for millennial’s in the UK, Italy, Spain and Greece.

Furthermore, Deloitte’s survey found that 49% of millennials would quit their jobs in the next two years if they had a choice, which presents a significant challenge for businesses wanting to retain young talent. Employee turnover creates significant costs for businesses, as replacing an employee can cost 150% of their annual salary due to costs relating to job advertising, hiring processes and training programmes for new recruits. The top reasons people gave for wanting to leave their jobs were insufficient pay and a lack of career advancement and professional development opportunities. Millennials and Gen Zs expect opportunities to learn and grow and want to have real relationships with managers that are invested in their career progression. They also want their work to be meaningful and to work for a company with an inclusive workplace culture that prioritises making a positive impact on society. For example, the survey found a strong correlation between employees planning to stay at their current place of work for 5 years or more and companies that fared best in terms of financial performance, talent development, community impact and diversity and inclusion.  

Source:  Deloitte, 2019


The survey also demonstrated that millennials and Gen Zs have a low opinion of businesses and their impact on the world. 76% of respondents said businesses focus on their own agenda rather than considering wider society and 64% said businesses only want to make money. Only 16% said businesses are improving society and 15% said businesses are enhancing employee’s livelihoods. Climate change was cited as the biggest concern among both groups, but only 12% think businesses are protecting the environment. Furthermore, only 37% of millennials believe business leaders are having a positive impact on the world. As the report states ‘millennials and Gen Zs want all of the talk business gives to purpose to become meaningful action, and for business leaders to serve as agents for positive change. They expect business to enhance lives and provide livelihoods, but they don’t see enough businesses standing up and filling the void’.

As consumers, millennials and Gen Zs want to support businesses that align with their values. For example, 42% of millennials said they have started or strengthened a relationship with a business because their products or services have a positive impact on society or the environment. Similarly, 37% said they have stopped or minimised a relationship because they disapproved of the company’s ethical behaviour. 

Source:  Deloitte, 2019


This research demonstrates that millennials and Gen Zs care about the impact businesses have on livelihoods, society and the environment. They want to do meaningful work, that has a positive impact on society and want to support businesses that share these values. It also shows that millennials and Gen Zs feel pessimistic about their careers and crave opportunities for career advancement and professional development. So what can businesses do, to make themselves more attractive to millennials and Gen Zs, both as employees and as consumers?

The report recommends that employers should:

  • Have conversations with millennial and Gen Z employees, to listen to their concerns and work to understand the issues that matter to them

  • Ask millennial and Gen Z employees what they can improve to help them reach their goals

  • Help millennial and Gen Z employees prepare for the future by providing training and tools to enable them to succeed

  • Take responsibility for delivering positive social impacts

It also recommends that businesses should:

  • Work to balance profit with protecting the planet and helping to solve society’s most challenging problems

  • Create a culture that encourages diversity, inclusion and social mobility

  • Demonstrate both internally and externally what they are doing to make the world a better place

As the report states, ‘millennials and Gen Zs aren’t the future - they’re the present. They can make or break entire enterprises, and they aren’t afraid to let their wallets speak for them. There’s a tremendous and genuine opportunity for leaders - in government, business, and elsewhere - to capture the hearts and minds of our younger generations. Those who can make the future brighter for millennials and Gen Zs stand to have the brightest future themselves’.