Millennials hold fast to core values

A new global survey of millennials and Gen Z respondents has found  a values-driven cohort, managing high levels of anxiety and stress with an increasingly low opinion of traditional institutions.

Shaped by the trying circumstances that have affected them from the beginning, millennials (aged 26-37) and Gen Zs (aged 18-25) are remaining steadfast, and refusing to compromise their values, according to The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020.

The global survey gathered responses from more than 18,000 millennial and Gen Z people from 43 countries. In New Zealand, some 300 millennials were surveyed.

A media release from Deloitte says the survey found that this cohort’s commitment to positive change remains strong, despite high levels of stress and low levels of trust in traditional institutions and the media.

Deloitte NZ human capital partner, Lauren Foster, says that the lasting impact of the GFC, the threat of climate change and rising inequities have shaped a unique generation that now faces the economic fallout of a global pandemic. 

“Millennials continue to hold clear values, measure companies by them, and use them to guide personal behaviour, even in the face of challenges,” she says.

“We can see environmental concerns and climate change shaping the behaviour of this cohort really clearly. We found that a significant portion (40 percent) of millennials reported ending a relationship with a business because of the effect their products or services have on the environment,” she says.

“Millennials report high levels of stress, with 48 percent of the NZ respondents saying they feel anxious or stressed all, or most, of the time. When we asked about the reasons for concern, respondents rated climate change and the environment, safety and income inequality as the top three issues.”

As the fieldwork for the 2020 Millennial Survey began in late November 2019 and concluded a week into 2020, the initial results were not affected by Covid-19. However, the research team undertook a smaller ‘pulse’ survey across 13 countries during the pandemic.  

Deloitte says the ‘pulse’ survey saw anxiety levels fall eight points for both generations, indicating a potential silver lining to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

There is evidence that millennials are taking proactive steps to manage this stress and anxiety, but there are still barriers to overcome.

“With 35 percent of New Zealand millennials taking time off work in the past 12 months due to anxiety or stress, but only 28 percent telling their employers that their absence was due to anxiety or stress (compared to 44 percent globally), it seems that millennials here feel that mental health self-care carries a stigma.”  

Sixty two percent of New Zealand millennials agreed that anxiety or stress is a valid reason to take time off work, compared with 50 percent globally. 

However there have been improvements in millennials’ relationships with their employers.

In the 2019 survey, 55 percent of respondents expected to leave their current employer within two years. This year, it dropped to 33 percent, suggesting that the needs of this cohort are now being met more often by their employers.

And the percentage of millennials who planned to stay with their current employer beyond five years grew from 17 percent in 2019 to 30 percent in 2020.  

Looking broadly at levels of trust in society, local millennials have noticeably lower levels of confidence than their global counterparts says Deloitte.  

• Non-governmental organisations, (16 percent locally v. 23 percent globally).

• Traditional media, (14 percent locally v. 20 percent).

• Business leaders (nine percent locally v. 16 percent).

• Social media (10 percent locally v. 19 percent).

• Political leaders (10 percent locally v. 13 percent).

“Seeing single digit levels of trust will likely be a wake-up call for some,” says Foster. “It’s clear from this survey that millennials’ and Gen Z’s commitment to change runs deep. It is also clear that the values held by this cohort are leading to frustration with traditional systems and institutions.”  

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