Millennials look for stability amid an uncertain future: Deloitte study

SINGAPORE - A turbulent 2016 - punctuated by terror attacks in Europe, Brexit, and a contentious United States presidential election - has left millennials more apprehensive about their future, going by the results of a report out on Tuesday.

Deloitte's sixth annual Millennial Survey found that only 36 per cent of millennials in mature markets expect to be financially better off than their parents, and 31 per cent expect to be happier.

This is in stark contrast to emerging markets, where 71 per cent of millennials expect to be financially better off than their parents, and 62 per cent said they expect to be emotionally better off.

The United States is the only mature market where a majority of millennials expect to be better off than their parents.

"This pessimism is a reflection of how millennials' personal concerns have shifted," said Mr Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global chief executive.

"Four years ago, climate change and resource scarcity were among millennials' top concerns. This year, crime, corruption, war, and political tensions are weighing on the minds of young professionals, which impacts both their personal and professional outlooks."

The report, conducted in September last year, was based on the views of nearly 8,000 full-time employees from 30 countries, between the ages of 19 and 35. They predominantly work in large private-sector organisations.

Amid the heightened anxiety, more young professionals are looking for stability and want to remain in their jobs, the survey noted.

Last year, the "loyalty gap" between those who saw themselves leaving their companies within two years and those who anticipated staying beyond five years was 17 percentage points. This year, the balance of millennials looking to "leave soon" is only seven points.

The desire for security is also apparent in the finding that nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they prefer full-time employment. Among 18 areas of personal concerns, unemployment ranked third.

The survey noted millennials said they intend to stay longer with employers that engage with social issues, such as education, unemployment, and health care, and those most optimistic about their countries' progress are more likely to report their employers getting involved with wider social and economic issues.

While six in 10 people surveyed say multinational businesses have made a positive impact on the challenges millennials say are their greatest concerns, they believe large organisations can do much more.

"The events of last year were a wake-up call for business and government leaders," said Mr Renjen. "The business community can, and must, address millennials' pessimism by doing more for society. We're in the best position to address many of society's most challenging problems and lead the way in creating an economy that works for everyone."

Amid an increasingly digitised world, the survey also found that 40 per cent of the respondents see automation as a threat to their jobs; 44 per cent believe there will be less demand for their skills; a majority believe they will have to retrain; and 53 per cent see the workplace becoming more impersonal and less human.

But many respondents - especially those considered "superconnected" millennials - also see automation as providing opportunities for value-added or creative activities, as well as the learning of new skills.