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Millennials - The Sustainability Generation

[fa icon="calendar"] 19-Apr-2014 09:58:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

Did you know Millennials have big demands and high expectations of businessthat Generation Y will soon be the greatest combined purchasing power in history? By 2025 millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. That’s quite the fact to grasp especially for older generations, who according to a recent survey by Deloitte might have a problem understanding and embracing the requirements, needs and wishes of millennials.

Before I move on to the rather interesting research findings, I just want to make clear who the millennials (or Generation Y) are – basically, anyone born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s falls into that category, including me too. Baby boomers or Generation X, on the other hand, are the ones born between the early 1960s to the early 1980s and Generation Z or digital natives are those born from the mid 1990s to the present day. The other generations are listed on Wikipedia here.

So what did Deloitte find?

The overall conclusion of the survey results is that Generation Y has big demands and high expectation from businesses, governments and the future workplace. This means that, as Deloitte puts it, business leaders are facing significant challenges “if they are to meet the expectations of the Millennial generation.”

Attention getter 1: CSR and sustainability as mainstream requirement for business

  • According to millennials, business is indeed having a positive impact on society by generating jobs (46%) and increasing prosperity (71%), but they believe that business can do much more to address society’s challenges in areas such resource scarcity (56%), climate change and protecting the environment (55%) and income and wealth equality (46%).
  • 50% of millennials want to work for a business with ethical practices.
  • 44% most often cite businesses and individual entrepreneurs as those expected to generate the innovative solutions needed to address the greatest challenges that societies around the world are facing.

Top challenges facing society in the next 5-10 years

Attention getter 2: Growing need for better leadership

  • Millennials expect organisations to foster and support innovative thinking that will tackle those issues with 78% of them being strongly influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work for it.
  • Unfortunately, most admit that their current employer does not really encourage them to think creatively – only about half of millennials feel their organisation encourages employees to suggest new ways of doing things or rewards them for innovative ideas.
  • The biggest barriers of innovation are:
    • management attitude (63%) such as reluctance to take risks, reliance on existing products, services and ways of doing business, and unwillingness to collaborate with other businesses or universities;
    • operational structures and procedures (61%) such as poor channels of communication across the organisation, lack of a formal process to encourage innovation and a poor organisational structure;
    • employee skills, attitudes and diversity (39%).
  • 50% believe the companies they work for could do more to develop future leaders with many of millennials stating that they are not being given sufficient opportunity to develop their skills as a leader.

Attention getter 3: Making a difference by doing good as key on the business agenda

  • In line with the first point, millennials are eager to make a difference and keen to participate in ‘public life’ with 63% stating that they give to charities, 43% actively volunteer or are a member of a community organisation and 52% sign petitions.
  • Millennials have big ambitions for businesses to do good, whose success should be measured in terms of improving society and not only financial performance. To do so businesses are required to work with governments, universities and non-profit organisations as well as with other companies.
  • However, most of millennials surveyed believe that currently companies are not achieving their true potentials in these areas, which is why many do not trust the actions or motives of business.

As the research shows, millennials want to work for organisations that foster innovative thinking, help them to develop their skills and make a positive contribution to people and the planet by solving pressing environmental and societal concerns. Businesses that fail to address these concerns may start losing skilled professionals and considering how millennials will soon occupy the most part of the workforce in the world, current leaders should seriously think about nurturing millennial talent. To attract and retain that talent, businesses must be in-tune with millennials’ view of the world, which apparently differs significantly from that of baby boomers.

For me, it’s good news that the Generation Y is more demanding and expects a lot more from today’s businesses because this means that they clearly know what they want and why they want it. They have a clear vision of what businesses should work on and achieve, including the need to develop products that benefit society and improve the bottom line at the same time.

In terms of CSR and sustainability, millennials seem to be well aware of what a significant role business has to play in tackling the serious environmental and societal issues we are facing. This is why I would even give millennials a new name – the sustainability generation.


Images from Deloitte survey


Topics: Sustainability

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is PMO Lead at the Chief of Staff office for CX EMEAR at Cisco where she is the operational leader for all things Customer Success and Growth. In her previous roles at HubSpot, she led major cross-functional change for the global Partner Program with her detail-oriented approach to project management and advised hundreds of agencies on how to transform their businesses with inbound and digital. During that time, she earned the globally recognised Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification by the PMI. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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