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What Millennials Think about Business

Understanding the Millennials and filling in the gap in between toward future innovations...

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You Need to Know what Millennials Think about Business.

This article originally appeared at Gen-i’

Our sense of millennials and those in Generation Z is that their main concerns are for avocado on toast and Instagram. But, according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, flat whites and social media are not the top of their priorities.

Rather, they are driven by a desire for equality, environmental sustainability, and political progress. In business, they want strong ethics, good corporate culture, diversity, and flexibility. As Generation Z alone makes up 25% of the US population, it’s probably a good idea for your business to have a listen to what they are saying.

For those who don’t know, millennials are those people born roughly between 1981 and 1995 They are those that reached adulthood in the first years of the twenty-first century. Generation Z are the slightly younger generation, those born between the mid-nineties and the early noughties. They are going to have a huge impact upon your business, becoming a significant part of both your customer base and workforce. That’s why you need to know what millennials think about business.

The Millennial Survey interviewed 10,455 millennials and 1,844 from Generation Z. Here are a few interesting things the survey revealed.

Ethics: What Millennials Think your Business Should be Doing.

There is a huge gap between what millennials think businesses should do, and what they think they actually do do. Ethics are crucial for these generations. Most respondents believed that business leaders don’t really care about issues such as a diversity, inclusivity, and social change. They think it’s all rather just rhetoric.

The majority of respondents want businesses to make a greater impact on society. Only 48% believe businesses behave ethically. Meanwhile, only 47% believe businesses want to improve society. 75% suspects businesses focus on their own agenda rather than considering wider society and a whopping 66% reckon business leaders have no ambition beyond making money. To top it off, 40% believe that businesses have a generally negative effect in the world.

But it’s not all bad for business. For millennials, good pay and good business culture (don’t say I didn’t warn you!) are important factors that keep them in a job. They want to work forsomething. Monetary reward isn’t enough on its own. Excel in these regards and you’ll keep them engaged.

Gig Economy

One of the most striking things that comes out of the survey is the importance of flexibility for these generations. Over 40% of millennials expect to leave their job within two years. Only 28% say they’ll stay for over five. For Gen Z, the numbers are bigger: 61% said they would leave their job within two years.

Those who expressed loyalty to their work often attributed this to the flexibility offered them. This was cited as the main factor after good pay and good culture. In parallel with this, respondents that expected to leave their jobs within two years cited the lack of flexibility as a cause.

Out of those imagining leaving, a great big 62% have hope for better prospects in the gig economy. Most thought that going freelance offers better rates of pay – whilst flexibility again came out as the main draw. Perhaps this is one of the most surprising things that millennials think about business.

If you are hoping to keep your millennial workers engaged, flexibility seems to be the key. Think about strategies to maintain and promote flexible schedules and working environments. Take a look at my piece on remote work here.

I offered flexibility for my staff and it made a huge difference. As a ‘young’ business I could be more agile in terms of offering flexible hours and remote work. Nine to five doesn’t work for people anymore, so new alternatives are crucial innovations and also help you both attract and, importantly, retain talented individuals.

Leadership

Whilst it might be a little scary to think that only 44% of the largest generation in the country believed that business leaders have a positive impact on the world, there is some (slightly) good news about this. Despite these figures, business leaders are actually one of the world’s most trusted groups of leaders. In comparison, 52% and 71% of the respondents believe that religious leaders and political leaders respectively have a negative impact on society.

But how could you build this trust, and appeal further to your emerging market and workforce? Think about things in the world other than profit: how sustainable is your business, and what do you think about donating to charities or giving back to the community? I ran a charity initiative where my business donated $5 to Kiva for each positive feedback we received. This allowed us to offer small business loans to people all over the world and help other business people get started. Find out more about Kiva HERE.

Industry 4.0

One of the important findings in the survey regards ‘Industry 4.0’, the name given to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This refers to industrial developments after the digital revolution, which are combining digital with physical technologies: robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. It’s going to change the world – so it’s worth knowing a little bit about.

Millennials, particularly, expect work to change dramatically in the next five years. Whilst half of both generations believe that this new Revolution will have a positive impact – allowing people to focus on the more ‘human’ soft skills, such as creativity – there are a few concerns too. Not all feel prepared.

Most respondents stated that they expect to need greater interpersonal skills and, ethics training – and they want businesses to provide support here. Remember this can both be both formal training but also creating a nurturing and supportive environment where your team are safe to hone these skills. We all know our human skills are developed as a result of learning and trial and error.

Think about how ‘mentors’ in your business can help them develop these crucial skills – see my article Wise Eyes. As a business leader yourself, have a think about how you can offer this! It’s a great opportunity to promote growth in your workplace!

Now I realise not all Millennials are ‘built the same’. But as this demographic becomes an increasing percentage of both the workforce and your customer base, understanding their needs and beliefs is going to be key to future innovations.

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