New Survey on Millennials Reveals Stress, Angst, Pessimism about… Everything

Millennials were raised to believe they could be anything when they grew up. But as Millennials age, their faith in that promise is on a steep decline.  

The crushing weight of student loans, ever-increasing rent and home prices, competition for “good” jobs and other factors have made them less optimistic. While they still think their dreams are achievable, the timeline has certainly gotten a bit longer.

In other words, Millennials who grew up with Winnie the Pooh are starting to identify more with Eeyore.

“Despite current global economic growth, expansion and opportunity, millennials and Generation Z are expressing uneasiness and pessimism—about their careers, their lives and the world around them.” That’s the conclusion of Deloitte’s annual Millennial Survey based on the opinions of more than 13,400 Millennials and more than 3,000 Gen Zers around the world.  

The survey in the past few years has shown “steep declines in respondents’ views on the economy, their countries’ social/political situations, and institutions like government, the media and business.”

They’re not happy with their leaders, politicians, governments, the way businesses are run, or even the media. They are in an existential funk.

How Should Businesses respond?

The Deloitte survey this year shows more Millennials than ever before are unhappy at work. “More millennials than ever—49 percent—would, if they had a choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years,” according to the report. 

Further, more Millennials have the view that businesses are only focused on their own interests and bottom lines, and that businesses don’t care about the community or the world. “Profits over people,” in other words.

One 26 year old told me, “The world is burning and I’m doing inside sales for a defense contractor. I need to move on to something that will make a difference in the lives of others. I want a purpose.”

 Previous studies have shown resoundingly that Millennials value businesses that in turn value the planet, society and the greater good. They want to work at companies and buy goods and services from companies where corporate social responsibility and opportunities to give back are the norm, not the exception.

To keep Millennials happy and engaged in the workplace and as valuable consumers, businesses need to shift their messaging and actions.

What to Say, What to Do

Millennials who join your team at work need to have a clear understanding of three things: Their role the organization (the Millennials “purpose” for working there), the organization’s role in the larger community and world (the company’s purpose, value and goals), and the Millennials’ career trajectory at the company.

For their entire school career, Millennials had team projects, team sports and specific tasks directly related to their role. They understood their place in the larger organization. They expect no less from their workplace – they want to know what they’re doing there, and why they’re doing it, and what their career trajectory at that company will look like both short- and long-term. Answer for them, “What’s the point?” and you’ll be part of the way toward keeping them engaged and on track.

Millennials also grew up with a sense of community, volunteer projects and values around helping those in need. Again, they expect no less than that from the place they work. How does the company or organization support the local community? What purpose does it serve and how does it help people live better lives? How does their job and the tasks they do feed into that mission and purpose, and how does it align with their values?

Millennials also need to see this sense of community and “giving back” in action. Companies that provide volunteer opportunities or do activities that directly align with values around helping people have happier, more engaged employees. Offer volunteer opportunities, team-building events that merge with corporate social responsibility, and make a point of showing both the team members and possible consumers that your company really does care. 

Do these three things well, consistently and with frequent, transparent communication, and there’s a chance that your Millennials Eeyores will come out from under that raincloud after all.

Warren Wright