the Resilient Generation’s ascendance into adulthood has been marked by technological transformation, financial upheaval, and political, environmental, and social movements. Through it all, they have staunchly believed in and advocated for workplace flexibility, income equality, diversity, inclusion, and a business purpose beyond the bottom line. Now it’s time for the rest of the working world to catch up and together build our shared future on their foundational values.
For the last nine years, Deloitte has studied this cohort to understand their priorities, stressors, aspirations, and motivations. The 2020 report is the largest one yet. Spread across two surveys, it explores the sentiments of 18,000 millennials and Gen Zs (born between 1983 and 2003) from 43 countries before the global spread of Covid-19 and over 9,000 millennials and Gen Zs across 13 countries during the pandemic. It represents a broad range of respondents, from executives at large companies to college and high school students, from gig workers to those unemployed or doing unpaid work.
As Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen recently said, “Our future is not preordained.” The Resilient Generation agrees. Step inside their homes and peek into their screens to learn what they want for themselves, what they expect from their employers, and how they are already shifting the future of work for the better.
In the US alone, nearly one in seven people are currently unemployed. Millennial employment dropped by 16% in March and April of 2020. For Gen Z, a third of all jobs disappeared. Some will come back, but not all. And the longer they stay out of work, the less competitive their skills will be.
The skills gap, fueled by AI and automation, was already a concern. The Covid-19 outbreak has accelerated it. In just one year, millennial respondents’ job-preparedness outlook has nosedived: Less than a quarter believe they have all the expertise they need for the future. Among Gen Z, that number drops to a shocking 20%. This is where organizations can step in.
Upskilling—with a focus on Industry 4.0 disciplines like data science, UX design, and cybersecurity—may be the most effective investment leaders can make for these employees and the long-term health of their businesses. Extensive talent development promotes an agile and engaged workforce that can grow while still putting down roots—which, for the first time since Deloitte asked in the 2016 survey, is a priority.
The whiplash of the last decade has made both millennials and Gen Zs crave stability. At a time when job security seems less attainable than ever, both groups want to stay with employers longer.
Between January and May of 2020, the number of millennials who believed it was too late to reverse climate change shrank. As global lockdowns began, humans proved they could adapt overnight. There were massive shifts to how we work, travel, and interact—so why not how we solve climate change, too?
When manufacturing, supply chains, and air travel came to a halt, emissions and pollution levels plunged. In Venice, the canals cleared. In Mumbai, the smog lifted. The world turned upside-down and with this new vantage point, anything feels possible.
and some details get lost in the aggregate. Stress levels were already higher for women than men before the pandemic, and they remain so in the follow-up polling. In Italy and Spain, where the virus hit hard right before polling, stress levels remained the same. In South Korea, where the government response was swift and widely praised, stress levels went down almost 25 points. But when taken all together, there are a few ways to read the tea leaves.
One explanation is that the Resilient Generation has enjoyed the unexpected benefits of slowing down and zeroing in on what matters. There are fewer places to spend money, so people are saving more. They’ve found new ways to connect with far-away friends and family. Some governments have stepped up their financial and medical relief to close the insecurity gap for some.
And for the 60% of knowledge workers who can work remotely, they’re benefitting from the flexibility millennials have touted for years. Many are content with their at-home offices, thanks to sophisticated remote working solutions. They feel like working from home creates a better balance, perhaps indicating they are able to be more productive, save money with no commutes or reduced child care costs, and spend more time pursuing hobbies or connecting with their immediate families. Even those juggling careers and kids during a quarantine had 5% lower stress levels than before the pandemic.
While this health crisis has shaken humanity, it’s also reminded us that we’re all human. Holding down a job or managing a team with a crying child, a barking dog, or a roommate just off camera is unfiltered, honest, and all on display. Yet, the realness of work right now may help break down communication barriers, allow people to bring their “true selves” to the job, and alleviate some of the mental strain reflected in Deloitte’s pre-pandemic data.