Deloitte: Close social gap or risk losing out on talent

02 February 2015 4 min. read

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.