See how they’re tackling financial insecurity
See how they’re pushing environmental action
See how they’re prioritizing mental health

The Resilient Generation

Inside the homes, screens, and minds of the people changing the future of work for the better
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Not even a global pandemic and ensuing economic crisis can keep the globe’s millennials and Gen Zs down.
Every single day, in cramped apartments and makeshift offices around the world, they’re working jobs, organizing protests, managing their own mental health, and passionately showing up for their coworkers, friends, family, and planet.
It’s not a surprise considering just how much they’ve already overcome.


From the wake of the Great Recession to the spread of social media,

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.

The Resilient Generation on Finance

Your youngest workers
want stability

Millennials have never experienced sustained financial security. They joined the workforce during the 2008 recession and now, a decade later and right when they should be hitting their salary stride, they face another historic economic downturn.
With an intimate understanding of how quickly circumstances can turn sideways, those surveyed report saving or investing 40% of their disposable income. Forget what you’ve heard about avocado toast and $7 lattes. They save more and spend less than their parents. Whether through budgeting apps, spreadsheets, or a table full of receipts ahead of Tax Day, they’re diligent about controlling their finances. But some things are beyond control.

INCOMING MESSAGE

The pandemic has everyone feeling more strained about personal finances, but the Resilient Generation is determined to come out of this crisis on solid ground. And they expect those with the most influence (like businesses and governments) to help them do it.


The skills gap will grow, but organizations can offset it.

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.


Employee loyalty is on the rise

The bottom line for leaders Employee loyalty is great news for businesses as long as they’re prepared to embrace and reward a more committed workforce. Millennials stopped caring about ping pong tables years ago.

1.
Here are the benefits
they really want:
Transparent compensation structures and fair wealth distribution
2.
Here are the benefits
they really want:
401k matching and student loan assistance
3.
Here are the benefits
they really want:
Robust healthcare coverage at a reasonable cost
4.
Here are the benefits
they really want:
Resources for employees to grow their roles and skills
5.
Here are the benefits
they really want:
Commitment from companies to put people ahead of profits
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Millennial and Gen Z workers seem happy overall with how their employers have responded to the Covid-19 crisis. However, they remain suspicious of business’ altruism in the long-term. Now is the time for organizations to prove their commitment to their workers.

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The Resilient Generation
On Climate Change
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The Resilient Generation on Climate Change

Climate Change
Remains Their Defining Issue

There is plenty to keep attention focused on the here and now. Yet millennials—and to an even greater degree Gen Zs—have their eyes fixed firmly towards the future. And according to Deloitte’s 2020 report, their top concern is still climate change. This suggests that they don’t view it as a distant threat, but rather a clear and present danger to their current way of life as well as future prospects.
They believe climate change is happening and that it’s largely caused by humans, and many fear the damage is already done. Still, they’re making daily, personal decisions to fight it. They’re using public transportation more and thinking twice about “fast fashion” purchases. Recycling is up and meat and fish consumption is down. Over half of those surveyed are taking environmental impact into consideration when thinking about how many children they want to have, if any.


Covid-19 created a surprising sense of hope.

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.


The Resilient Generation’s renewed optimism on reversing climate change

The bottom line for leaders The Resilient Generation is worried that sustainability initiatives will fall by the wayside as companies reel from huge hits to profits in 2020 and beyond. It’s up to leaders to prove them wrong. They should resist the urge to sideline these goals to regain lost financial ground. Millennials and Gen Z talk with their wallets, so short-term savings may cost more in the end.

1.
Companies committed to
sustainability must have:
Publicized plans that hold company leaders accountable to specific environmental goals
2.
Companies committed to
sustainability must have:
Community engagement strategies to amplify the grassroots initiatives already in motion
3.
Companies committed to
sustainability must have:
Measurable results that prove your environmental initiatives aren’t just a marketing tactic
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The Resilient Generation wants to know that the companies profiting off of them are helping secure their future. Now is the time for companies to realign their purpose to support a multigenerational priority that isn’t going away.

Next:
The Resilient Generation
On Mental Health
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The Resilient Generation on Mental Health

Stress Levels
declined early in the pandemic

Before the global health crisis, nearly half of Deloitte’s 2020 survey respondents said they felt stressed all or most of the time, with many anxieties surrounding personal finances, outdated skill sets, and impending climate catastrophe. Unsurprisingly, this stress manifested at work. Before the pandemic, about one-third of millennials and Gen Zs took time off of work due to mental health, but only half told their managers the real reason.
Then Covid-19 struck. And Deloitte’s mid-pandemic survey revealed counterintuitive data: Millennial and Gen Z stress levels dropped.
In a time when it would be safe to assume anxieties would skyrocket across the board, millennials reported feeling less stressed in nine of 11 categories. Gen Zs weren’t quite as zen, but their stress levels still decreased in five of 11 categories and rose by only a few points in the others.

The pandemic forced a reset on life and stress


It’s hard to pinpoint why stress levels dropped,

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.

The bottom line for leaders Businesses must prioritize their employees’ mental health—through this crisis and beyond. Here’s how companies can support their workers’ overall wellness:

1.
Here’s how businesses should
support their workers:
Reexamine sick policies, PTO packages, and medical benefits to make sure employees at every level have the resources and rest they deserve.
2.
Here’s how businesses should
support their workers:
Create a consistent, safe space for direct reports to talk openly with their managers, whether to voice stress or to ask for help when they feel overwhelmed.
3.
Here’s how businesses should
support their workers:
Encourage productivity, not appearing busy. Employees who get their work done while still taking lunch and logging off after-hours should be rewarded, not reprimanded.
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When companies invest in their workers’ mental health, both employees and employers win.