4 Lessons From Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey

June 20, 2017

Millennial looking at phone

Millennials have a reputation for demanding more from employers and embracing riskier entrepreneurial roles. But the numbers tell a much different story: Despite their ambitions, many millennials are leery of leaving their current full-time employment.

These young workers are opting for the secure, stable professional route, even if it doesn’t 100% align with their values. Brands marketing to millennials should take note of this tempered outlook, and how it might affect this generation as consumers, professionals, and citizens.

Their cautious approach makes perfect sense: So many global forces are teasing one another with vague threats of conflict. On the domestic front, concerns about the state of the economy and health care are making it harder to know what the future holds.

Millennials have a reputation as ambitious go-getters who are driving change in the modern-day workplace. But the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 makes it clear that these young professionals also see how quickly certain forces could reshape their world, and they don’t want to shortchange their futures in the name of unchecked optimism.

All too often, brands marketing to millennials undercut their own success by leaning on stereotypes and misunderstandings about this generation. Deloitte’s survey offers great insight into the complexities that shape this critical demographic. Here are some of the main takeaways.

Millennials are Unhappy with the World They’ve Inherited

One of the most interesting findings of Deloitte’s report is the pessimism expressed by millennials in mature markets. The survey noted that in emerging markets around the world, millennials expect to be both financially and emotionally better off than their parents, by margins of 71 and 62 percent.

Millennials growing up in mature markets have an entirely different view, though. Only 36 percent expect to be financially better off than their parents, and a mere 31 percent expect to be happier.

This attitude likely stems from several factors. Millennials in the U.S., for example, have inherited a society that is as politically divided as ever. They worry over environmental issues and recent signals that conflict may be on the horizon—not just with terrorists, but with foreign governments. They are likely responding to increased anxiety over uncertain health care policy and a growing sense that the economy is not designed to help them succeed.

The proportions of these influences could be different for every millennial. Even so, it’s clear that millennials are struggling to remain optimistic about the future.

Employment Opportunities Aren’t Meeting Expectations

A range of research has put forward evidence that millennials want to break the mold when it comes to their employment. Many prefer the flexibility and other advantages of working as freelancers or consultants, instead of getting stuck behind an office desk.

Deloitte’s study argues that this preference is alive and well. But in spite of the belief that freelancing and consulting offer sweeter deals, nearly two-thirds of millennials say they prefer full-time employment. The report suggests this trend has to do with anxiety over “world events and increasing automation,” and a preference for stability over quality of life factors, such as flexible working options.

Business Can Drive Positive Change

Despite pessimism about their own professional prospects, millennials remain optimistic about the business world, believing companies can drive positive change in the world. Seventy-six percent surveyed said they see businesses making a difference in their communities. This doesn’t mean millennials believe every company is doing all they can to make an impact, but all companies share this potential.

Furthermore, millennials feel personally accountable to help drive this influence. Millennials are drawn to “good causes” and the ability to be a part of positive change, particularly as working professionals. This desire to make a difference could also extend to their roles as consumers, too.

Give It to Them Straight

Millennials don’t care for pomp and circumstance, and they also aren’t inclined to corporate-speak. Deloitte found that millennials typically prefer measured, gradual change as opposed to radical transformation. They also react negatively to convoluted messaging and entities that promote exclusion—this applies to both workplace leaders, political leaders, and other visible leadership, including brand executives.

The survey draws a clear line between passion and radicalism, pointing out that while millennials love passionate leadership, they have a strong aversion to radical voices.

If you’re eager to learn more about millennials and how to reach this audience, download The LinkedIn Millennial Playbook.

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