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Millennials – how their values are likely to affect the business world

There has been much talk about Millennials recently – their preferences, work ethic and impending impact on corporations. We set out to investigate who they are and how their values are likely to affect the business world.


Born from the early 1980s onwards, Millennials are digital natives who are social, connected and more influenced by friends than authority. They are the children of ‘helicopter parents’ who all received medals for trying, resulting in some being characterised as entitled and narcissistic. They’ve often been labelled Generation Me.

Millennials are also typically thought to be more ethically and community minded than previous cohorts, with a deep desire to leave the world in a better shape that today. Comfortable with the ‘sharing economy’, globalisation and rapid change, they shun traditions and have different financial priorities than previous generations. Possibly because they never move out of home. As they become immersed in their prime spending and working years, they are poised to change the world economy in novel ways.

How do these characteristics impact the professional and career choices of Millennials?

Personal values dictate not only the purchasing habits of Millennials, but also where they’re prepared to work. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey reports that 56% of Millennials have ruled out ever working for a particular organisation based on their values. They place purpose ahead of profit and in addition to things like salary and benefits, demand higher moral standards from their employer. They expect a level of ethical accountability unparalleled by previous generations, some seeking transparency and social responsibility to be hard baked into an employer’s DNA.  

Taking this even further, Millennials expect their employer to support them to personally contribute to the community. And they don’t want to be told how to do it. As digitally savvy consumers who value personal choice and connection, they want to choose how they give, and who they give to. They value organisations who promote ‘pro-social’ behaviours and want to belong to this ecosystem.

Finally, perhaps the most serious challenge to organisations will be the “remarkable absence of allegiance” exhibited by Millennials. 44%, if given the choice, would like to leave their current employer in the next two years, while two thirds of Millennials desire to leave their organisation by 2020. Fleeting tenancy in companies as numerous as their social media apps may well prove to be the hallmark of a Millennial’s career.

Given these trends and insights, what can organisations do to Millennial Proof themselves?

Businesses must adjust how they nurture loyalty or risk rapid staff turnover, and the associated costs to their culture and bottom line. Organisations need to consider how they are going to positively impact society, as part of their regular work, and then think again about how they can include Millennials in their community giving programs in a transparent and personal way.

Considerably more than for generations before them, a robust CSR program will have a strong ROI amongst Millennials. By 2020 they are predicted to be 50% of the global workforce. Is your business ready?

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