Millennials and employers: A disjointed relationship

26 January 2016 5 min. read

Two thirds of Millennials expect to change employer in the coming five years, a recent Deloitte survey of Millennials finds. For employers this means that a large amount of capital is likely to be leaving. One of the key reasons for the move is a disjoint between the values of the employer and the employees own values.

The Millennial generation is expected to bring with it considerably different ways of valuing work, potentially throwing the traditional corporate structure into chaos. In Deloitte’s recent survey of the attitude of Millennials to the world, titled ‘The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey Winning over the next generation of leaders’, 7,700 Millennials representing 29 countries around the globe, responded about their situation. The respondents are all born after 1982, have a college or university degree, are employed fulltime, and predominantly work in large (100+ employees), private sector organisations.

Millennials expecting to leave by 2020

The report finds that loyalty to their current employer remains low among the Millennials. The attitude that a job is for life is, for many of those surveyed, no longer presented as an option*, with only 11% saying that would never leave their current employer. In total, 25% expect to leave their current employer within the next year, while 66% say that they will have moved on within the next two to five years. Only 27% expect to stay for longer than five years.

The low level of loyalty remains a key issue for businesses, with more and more of the workforce becoming Millennials over the coming decade. In the US for instance, Millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce creating a serious problem for organisations as a large amount of talent and expertise walks out the door.

Percentage who expect to leave in next 5 years

The survey highlights that there are considerable differences between countries surveyed with regards to those Millennials sticking around after four years, and those that will be seeking a better suited employer in the coming four years (before 2020). Employees in Belgium, Spain and Japan are the least likely to leave in the coming four years, at 51%, 52% and 52% respectively. Young people in Peru on the other hand do not see themselves likely to stay with their current employers (82% plan to leave), while in South Africa and India 76% say they will be leaving in the coming four years. It is particularly those in emerging economies that will seek to find new opportunities, at 69%, while those in developed economies are somewhat more likely to stick around at 60%. There are however, outliers, with 71% of those in the UK likely to make the move in the coming years.

The disjunction of values between businesses and Millennials is one area that is affecting loyalty, according to the survey. Many Millennials are relatively positive about the role that business has in society, with 73% maintaining that it has a positive impact upon wider society, and 58% also believe that businesses behave ethically, up from 52% in 2015. The belief that businesses are leaders seeking to improve society is also up slightly, at 57% - from 53% in 2015. 64% however, believe that businesses focus on their own agenda and do not consider wider social consequences of their actions, with 54% stating that businesses are just out to make money.

Percentage who say businesses

According to the research, an alignment of values between businesses and Millennials is important. Without such an alignment, Millennials are more likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Of the Millennials that plan to stay in their current role for more than five years, 82% say that that their values and that of the employer are similar. This is a strong indication that Millennials choose employers whose values reflect their own—a concept reinforced by the finding that, globally, 56% of Millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organisation because of its values or standard of conduct.”

“Millennials place great importance on their organisation’s purpose beyond financial success, remaining true to their values and opportunities for professional development. Leaders need to demonstrate they appreciate these priorities, or their organisations will continue to be at risk of losing a large percentage of their workforce,” comments Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO. “Fortunately, Millennials have provided business with a roadmap of how employers can meet their needs for career satisfaction and professional development.”

Values that support long-term business success

When asked to state the level of influence different factors have on their decision-making at work, personal values/morals rank first. Most Millennials have no problem standing their ground when asked to do something that conflicts with their personal values. Values highlighted as important to Millennials include fair satisfactory treatment from their employers, at 26%, followed by ethical and honest behaviour from that employer. A focus on customer care comes in at 19%, followed by the quality and reliability of its offerings (13%). Environmental impact and corporate responsibility came in at 8%.

“A generation ago, many professionals sought long-term relationships with employers, and most would never dream of saying ‘no’ to supervisors who asked them to take on projects,” concludes Renjen. “But, Millennials are more independent and more likely to put their personal values ahead of organisational goals. They are re-defining professional success, they’re proactively managing their careers, and it appears that their values do not change as they progress professionally, which could have a dramatic impact on how business is done in the future.”

* According to research by Mercer, this follows from the ‘here and now’ philosophy Millennials typically bring to their careers.