Deloitte’s Gen Z/Millennial Survey: Young Workers Feel How Older Ones Once Did

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EVER WONDER ABOUT the impact the last few years have had on the younger generations?

Well, here’s new research with some intriguing insights.

Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey explores how the disruptive events of the last three years have shaped respondents’ lives and views.

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes (despite attempts to bring it back), the report looks at how Gen Z and Millennial experiences in the workplace have evolved. It finds that while the pandemic left significant negative legacies, it also ushered in some positive workplace trends.

The survey looks broadly at the progress these generations feel their employers have made, where there is still work to do, and where potential setbacks may occur. It also explores how Gen Zs and Millennials continue to make lifestyle and career decisions based on their values.

Work/life balance is still a big priority

Now in its 12th year, the Deloitte survey gathers insights from more than 22,000 Gen Z and Millennial respondents across 44 countries. Their responses reveal that, while they acknowledge some positive change, they remain deeply concerned about their futures.

THE REPORT UNDERSCORES continuing concerns about personal finances, climate change, and mental health, and examines Gen Zs’ and Millennials’ shifting relationship with work.

  • As Gen Zs and Millennials rethink the role of work in their lives, work/life balance remains a top priority with flexible work arrangements, including part-time jobs growing in popularity.
  • Gen Zs and Millennials cite the cost of living as their top societal concern, with more than half of respondents saying they live paycheck to paycheck.
  • Stress and anxiety levels remain high, driven by financial and environmental concerns, as well as workplace pressures.
  • Gen Zs and Millennials would like to see their employers offer better career advancement opportunities for part-time employees, more part-time jobs overall, and the option for more flexible hours for full-time employees (e.g., condensed four-day work weeks).
  • Roughly six in 10 Gen Zs and two-thirds of Millennials think the economy will worsen or stay the same in their country over the next year. Among them, many think that this will result in it becoming harder or impossible to ask for a raise or promotion, get a new job, or seek greater flexibility at work. 

Survey Methodology

The Deloitte Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey reflects the responses of 14,483 Generation Zs and 8,373 Millennials (22,856 respondents in total), from 44 countries across North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific. The survey was conducted using an online, self-complete-style interview.

Fieldwork was completed between 29 November 2022 and 25 December 2022. In addition to the survey, in March 2023, qualitative interviews were conducted with 60 Gen Zs and Millennials from Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, and the USA defined in the study. Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2004 and Millennial respondents were born between January 1983 and December 1994.

HERE’S MY TAKE: Although this survey came out a few months ago, I believe the insights are even more timely today than they were last spring.

That’s because the state of the U.S. economy is shaky. Anyone who buys groceries, or gas, or knows someone who lost their job or is struggling to find a new one, is feeling that economic shakiness every day.

Why do we feel that way? Here’s Bloomberg’s analysis:

“The problem is, wages largely haven’t kept up. Earnings growth only just started to outpace inflation in recent months, but before then, Americans had effectively experienced two years of declining purchasing power.

‘People grumble when they get to the grocery store that everything is so expensive. I’m very much one of those people,’ said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. ‘You just pay for it because you have to eat.’

That largely explains why Americans are fairly downbeat about their financial situations, dragging down measures of confidence. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index was at 101 in February 2020 and sank to half that level — a record low — by June 2022 when inflation peaked.

It’s since recovered to 71.6, but remains well below its longer-run average.”

A troubling and uncertain future ahead

The Deloitte Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey may focus on the younger working generation, but I was struck by how much it reflects how just about everybody I know feels.

That’s also why I like to include the survey methodology, because the very best research usually does a good job at clearly showing how they gathered the underlying data. Organizations like Deloitte and Gallup do a great job at this because it provides proof of how credible the survey is.

If you get some survey that seems interesting but doesn’t provide specific methodology, it’s a clear sign that you shouldn’t take it very seriously, because companies that have solid methodology usually want you to know it. And companies that don’t, don’t.

Overall, this latest Deloitte survey takes a deep dive into what the youngest two generations of workers are thinking and feeling. That’s important of course, but if I could condense all the data Deloitte digs into, it would come down to this:

The uncertainty of what to expect in the future is troubling to the younger generations.

Sound familiar? It should, because just about every single generation comes to worry about the uncertain future that lies ahead.

In other words, younger workers today are worried about what every other generation worried about. That’s how life goes, so they should probably just get used to that and hang on for the ride.

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