Deloitte: Close social gap or risk losing out on talent

02 February 2015

Millennials are less interested in profit and personal financial gain over social improvement and self-development, a recent global survey by Deloitte finds. Tomorrow’s leaders are looking for the business they work for to have a social purpose along-side profit making, and prize focus on employee well-being and employee development highly in themselves or other future leaders. According to Deloitte, businesses should acknowledge this and adapt or risk losing out on Millennial talent.

In a recent study, titled “Mind the gaps: The 2015 Millennial survey”, Deloitte asks Millennials about what they, tomorrow’s leaders, think of businesses today. The study collected the views of more than 7,800 Millennials in 29 countries around the globe.* From the results a gap between what Millennial think a business should work towards and what businesses are perceived to stand for appears.

Deloitte - Mind the gaps

The purpose of Business
A central finding of the survey is that Millennials are seeking to give businesses a social purpose. They expect business to be good for individuals by offering employment, and to have a positive impact on wider society. They do recognise that businesses exist to make money, however, businesses appear to emphasise for vast majority of Millennials (75%), self-interested activity, myopically seeking profit, rather than helping to personal development or improve society. As a result, when comparing purpose—what businesses should do—versus impact— what they are doing—Millennials consider business to be under-performing by 10 points at improving livelihoods, and under-performing by 12 points on social/environmental benefit. In contrast, there is a perceived over-emphasis in areas of profit generation (+10) and wealth creation (+13).

The business Millennial gap


Seeking purpose
This seeking a “sense of purpose” is for six out of ten Millennials part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. Among Millennials who are relatively high users of social networking tools (the “super-connected Millennials”), there appears to be even greater focus on business purpose; 77% of this group report that their company’s purpose was part of the reason they chose to work there, compared to just 46% of those who are the “least connected.”

Among businesses where Millennials say there is a strong sense of purpose, there is significantly higher reporting of financial success (69% vs. 41%), employee satisfaction (57% vs. 23%), and recruitment (63% vs. 48%) 

Seeking purpose

Leading the gap
The discrepancy between the priorities of a business also affects what Millennials see as leadership priorities. While the younger generation is aligned with its current leaders’ priority of “ensuring the long-term future of the organisation,” beyond this, Millennials would place far greater emphasis on employee wellbeing (+20) and employee growth and development (+14). They also would prioritise their companies’ contributions to local communities and the wider society in which they operate (+9). Compared to the perceived priorities of their senior leadership teams, Millennials place less emphasis on “personal income/reward” (-18) and “short-term financial goals” (-17).

Leading the gap

Commenting on the findings and their influence on businesses, Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, says: “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community, particularly in developed markets, that they need to change the way they engage Millennial talent or risk being left behind.”

* All the survey participants were born after 1982, have obtained a college or university degree, are employed fulltime, and predominantly work in large (100+ employees), private-sector organisations. 



Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

17 April 2019

Soft skills matter in the workplace just as much as technical expertise, writes Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams.

For too long technical expertise has been seen as the marker of a strong candidate for development into a sales or leadership position. Sales and leadership candidates are tasked with demonstrating a diverse and wide-ranging set of technical skills, yet their aptitude in these technical skills or ‘hard skills’ cannot signify great leadership potential. This is why a healthy balance of soft skills and technical ability is required. 

So what exactly is the difference between technical skills and soft skills? In engineering, it’s crucial to demonstrate knowledge of physics as well as a strong grasp on mathematical equations. Yet, in any industry, it’s important for leaders to be able to interact with other people effectively with soft skills like communication, empathy and adaptability. 

Business Linked Team’s 2018 study into internal leadership development revealed that 69% of large organisations are prioritising the identification and development of future leaders from within the workforce. As more and more organisations begin to invest in sales or leadership development within their existing workforces, more focus needs to be placed on ensuring the right soft skills are in place. 

With those soft skills in place throughout the workforce, the business will benefit from a wider pool of potential leaders developing under their noses, and it should be the same where sales candidates are concerned. 

It’s not just about easier access to ideal candidates for these positions without the rigmarole of recruiting from outside of the organisation. The leadership development study also found that 89% of HR decision makers say succession planning has become a top priority. Those currently serving in leadership positions can’t lead forever and the same goes for those generating sales for the business.

Why leaders must balance technical expertise with soft skills

From people leaving for new opportunities or retirement, to people simply stepping aside to focus on other areas of the business, successful leaders and salespeople require experienced and capable successors that will be ready and able to confidently step into their shoes and pick up the mantle without the business experiencing any lapse in performance.

Soft skills make stronger candidates

When it comes to the soft skills required, a strong leader must be able to manage through clear communication and effective time management, coaching and goal setting. They must be able to demonstrate empathy and empower their teams to be successful, productive and fully engaged. And beyond simply giving direction, they must also be able to take direction from those above them and cascade the business strategy down through their teams. 

A strong sales candidate must possess the ability to communicate value to the customer, negotiate well and protect margin or the ability to increase the scope of a particular sales opportunity. 

With the relevant soft skills in place, the business will benefit from increased productivity, greater agility against changing market conditions and greater transparency. In turn, this will provide visibility on issues and inefficiencies while removing opportunity for miscommunication. All of this can transform the culture of a department, improving employee satisfaction and reducing staff turnover. 

Ultimately, developing leadership or sales candidates will require the business to strike the right balance between technical skills and soft skills, and this requires an effective and sustained learning journey.

A balanced learning journey

Facilitating and supporting the development of leadership and sales is best achieved by establishing training groups. By cultivating training groups, businesses are creating talent pools that will inspire and support each other on the learning journey. However, personal goals and learning objectives must be defined for each individual based on their own existing skillsets and the skills that each individual needs to develop. 

With the emergence of e-learning, businesses recognise the value of online-based learning activities, yet many make the mistake of opting for one-size-fits-all solutions which are solely focused on self-study. A development solution will only deliver true return on investment if it combines e-learning activities with group learning activities that provide opportunity for shared experiences and support.

A blended learning solution that combines self-study and face-to-face group learning activities will aid strong development of the talent pool through shared experiences. Through these shared experiences, those undergoing the training will organically develop a support network that supports the development of the group as much as it supports the development of each individual. 

The blended learning approach is supported by one of the seven principles of human learning that socially supported interactions aid the individual development of expertise, metacognitive skills, and formation of the learner’s sense of self. The strongest opportunities for development can be unlocked by blending workshops with online activities such as virtual sessions, peer coaching, self-study, online games and business simulations. But it’s crucial to provide a blend of one-to-one and group sessions too.

Beyond delivering a better learning outcome for the employee, the blended learning approach allows organisations to adapt their training quickly and easily to shifting business demands in an ever-changing landscape.