Demographic change in the workforce: an insight into millennials, a generation disrupted

The Lisbon Conference Blog: Christiane Schober, senior human capital consultant at Deloitte Consulting GmbH, addresses the war for talent and the next-generation workforce

About AferaThere is no doubt that the way we will work in the future is changing. 2 megatrends are driving this transformation: a shift in who is entering and leaving the workforce (demographic change) and technological evolution.


Regarding demographic change, employers are facing several challenges: first, a significant part of the workforce is approaching retirement age at around the same time. This implies that we have to transfer knowledge and expertise to the right employees at the right time. To make matters even more complicated, today’s workforce is made up of 5 generations, which differ largely in terms of their expectations, needs, and aspirations regarding work.


As many companies are facing difficulties in understanding, attracting and retaining the new generation, and as Millennials and Generation Z account for most of the global workforce, Deloitte is conducting the annual Deloitte Global Millennial Survey. This latest Millennial Survey depicts the views of 13,416 Millennials and 3,009 Generation Z participants from 42 countries and territories. The Millennial Survey focuses on what is important for Millennials and Generation Z in professional contexts and how companies can meet their expectations.


Key findings of the Millennial Survey 2019 reveal the following:


Increased pessimism
In this year’s Survey, Millennials (those born between 1983 and 1994) and Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2002) are expressing uneasiness and pessimism about their careers, their lives in general, and the world around them. Only 26% of Millennials believe the economy will improve in the next year and only one third of Millennials expect to be as wealthy or happy as their parents’ generation.


Lack of trust
Millennials have lost confidence in business and political leaders, and they hold companies accountable for engaging in and actively shaping topics like education, equality and the environment. In general, Millennials and Generation Z seem to be more pessimistic than other generations, a reflection of Millennials having experienced government failures, terror, crises and instability.


Top personal concerns Office picture
The top 3 concerns of Millennials: climate change and protecting the environment (29%), income inequality (22%) and unemployment (21%). As a result, they ask and expect companies to take on social responsibility and to engage in topics of global concern like climate, unemployment, education, equality and inclusion.


Evolved priorities
Millennials value experiences, meaning they aspire to travel and prioritise helping communities over starting families or businesses of their own.


Working life and the gig economy
Millennials’ discontent was also evident when asked about their jobs, with more than half planning on leaving their current employer within the next 2 years and only around a quarter staying beyond 5 years. The gig economy, as an example for an alternative work model, appeals to 4 in 5 Millennials and representatives of Generation Z. Millennials consider the gig economy an attractive alternative or addition to traditional working relationships because of a perceived increase in flexibility, purpose, participation and salary. All of these matters and values are highly important to Millennials, but, from their point of view, are often missing in traditional work arrangements.


The above-mentioned aspirations of the younger generations may seem contradictory at first glance. This is why Millennials are called “the generation disrupted”, and in return their behaviour and choices are profoundly disrupting business and society alike.


What Can Companies do?

Millennials and Generation Z make up more than half the world’s population and together account for most of the global workforce. This is what businesses should do to capture the hearts and minds of the younger generations:

    • Adjust priorities and balance profit by protecting the planet and helping to solve society’s most challenging problems
    • Create a culture that encourages diversity, inclusion, and social mobility
    • Reconsider your talent strategy and align it to what is important to this influential and strong-minded generation
    • Be aware, that this generation does not fear contract work and navigating the gig economy
    • Communicate and demonstrate externally as well as internally what you as a business are doing in order to make the world a better place, while appreciating younger generations’ positive contribution to matters of global importance
    • Never stop learning about their needs and expectations: assure a continuous dialogue and ask Millennials themselves what they need and want in order to be motivated and engaged at work.


Would you like to learn more on the war for talent and the next-generation workforce? Attend Afera’s Annual Conference in Lisbon to see my presentation on demographic changes in the workforce and “the generation disrupted” and to discuss these issues with me and the rest of your industry peers.