Businesses need to reset purpose to attract millennials, global survey finds

UK millennials more critical of business behaviour and attitudes than global counterparts. They are also half as likely to start their own businesses as those in emerging markets. Just one-third of UK respondents say skills learned in higher education are useful in day-to-day work

Businesses should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits, according to Deloitte’s fourth annual millennial survey.

The study suggest firms, particularly in developed markets, will need to make significant changes to attract and retain the future workforce. Deloitte Global surveyed 7,800 graduates born after 1982 in full-time employment across 29 countries, including the UK, on effective leadership, how business operates and impacts society.

71 percent of UK respondents say businesses have a positive impact on society, compared to 82 percent in emerging markets and 73 per cent globally. However, 77 per cent of UK millennials, and 75 per cent globally, believe businesses are focused on their own agenda rather than helping to improve society. Worryingly, just 48 per cent of UK millennials say businesses show strong leadership on important social issues, compared to 61 per cent globally. Similarly, just 39 per cent of UK millennials say businesses act in an ethical manner, against 52 per cent globally.

When asked which sectors they aspire to work in, 40 per cent of UK millennials say the professional services sector is attractive, with 34 per cent expressing a preference for the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector. This trend is reversed globally, with 46 percent of millenials worldwide keen to work in the TMT sector, ahead of professional services at 39 percent. UK male respondents are more likely to choose the TMT sector, with 40 percent preferring the sector, ahead of 27 percent of women.

37 per cent of UK respondents and 35 per cent globally are keen to work for a large, global business. This increases to 51 percent among millenials in emerging markets. Just 12 per cent of UK millennials and 11 per cent globally are inclined to start their own business, compared to 22 per cent in emerging markets.

Steve Almond, chairman of Deloitte Global, said: “The survey sends a clear and strong message to business leaders that, to stay engaged with millennials, they need to focus on their broader purpose and their people as much as they do on products and profits.”

Overall, just 36 per cent of UK respondents say the skills they developed in higher education are useful in fulfilling their day-to-day work responsibilities and 44 per cent say their higher education experience is useful to improving their long-term career objectives. Just 21 per cent of UK millennials, and 28 percent globally, feel their current employer is making full use of their skills. Furthermore, 43 pe rcent of UK respondents, compared to 53 per cent globally and 65 percent in emerging markets, aspire to become the leader or most senior executive within their current organisation.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, said: “Millennials want more from business than might have been the case 50, 20 or even 10 years ago. 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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