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Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey Reveals Workplace Progress Despite New Setbacks

  • As Gen Zs and millennials rethink the role of work in their lives, work/life balance remains a top priority with flexible work arrangements, including part-time jobs growing in popularity
  • Gen Zs and millennials cite the cost of living as their top societal concern, with more than half of respondents saying they live paycheck to paycheck
  • Stress and anxiety levels remain high, driven by financial and environmental concerns, as well as workplace pressures
  • Gen Zs and millennials want employers to help prepare them for the transition to a low-carbon economy

NEW YORKMay 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Released today, Deloitte’s 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey explores how the disruptive events of the last three years have shaped respondents’ lives and views. As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, the report looks at how Gen Zs’ and millennials’ experiences in the workplace have evolved and finds that, while the pandemic clearly left significant negative legacies, it also ushered in some positive workplace trends. The survey looks broadly at the progress these generations feel their employers have made, where there is still work to do, and where potential setbacks may occur. It also explores how Gen Zs and millennials continue to make lifestyle and career decisions based on their values.

Now in its 12th year, the survey gathers insights from more than 22,000 Gen Z and millennial respondents across 44 countries. Their responses reveal that, while they acknowledge some positive change, they remain deeply concerned about their futures. The report underscores continuing concerns about personal finances, climate change, and mental health, and examines Gen Zs’ and millennials’ shifting relationship with work.

“Gen Zs and millennials are striving for better work/life balance. They are also values-driven, concerned about the environment, the state of the world, and the future they see developing ahead of them. They’re looking for employers who can help empower them to make a difference,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer. “Organizations that actively listen and help address their needs and concerns will improve business resiliency and implement actionable change in our world.”

Gen Zs and millennials acknowledge workplace progress, but are seeking greater flexibility and work/life balance

Gen Z and millennial respondents are seeing employers make progress in some key areas since pre-pandemic times. Approximately one-third of Gen Zs and millennials in full- or part-time work say they are very satisfied with their work/life balance, compared to only one in five in 2019, and satisfaction with flexibility at work, along with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts have also increased.

The pandemic prompted a rethinking of the role work plays in their lives. While nearly half of Gen Zs and a majority of millennials say their job is still central to their identities, they place a strong focus on work/life balance—the top trait they admire in their peers, and their top consideration when choosing an employer.

Gen Zs and millennials want flexibility in where and when they work. Many respondents now have hybrid or remote work models, a benefit they value deeply. Meanwhile, flexible work arrangements, which offer a range of work structures that alter when work gets done, or the number of hours worked, are a growing priority. Gen Zs and millennials would like to see their employers offer better career advancement opportunities for part-time employees, more part-time jobs overall, and the option for more flexible hours for full-time employees (e.g., condensed four-day work weeks).

While Gen Zs and millennials acknowledge the progress that employers have made in recent years, there is still work to do. And they worry that the momentum will stop as businesses reckon with external challenges like economic uncertainty and the impacts of the war in Ukraine.

Cost of living remains a top concern, and economic uncertainty is hampering respondents’ ability to plan for their futures

Roughly six in 10 Gen Zs and two-thirds of millennials think the economy will worsen or stay the same in their country over the next year. Among them, many think that this will result in it becoming harder or impossible to ask for a raise or promotion, get a new job, or seek greater flexibility at work. Their economic concerns are also impacting their ability to plan for their future on a more personal level, with many saying it will become harder or impossible to buy a home or start a family.

Gen Zs and millennials continue to cite the cost of living as their top societal concern, above unemployment and climate change. More than half of Gen Zs (51%) and millennials (52%) say they live paycheck to paycheck (up five percentage points from 2022).

Despite their desires for better work/life balance and the ability to reduce working hours, many Gen Zs (46%) and millennials (37%) have taken on either a part- or full-time paying job in addition to their primary job to make ends meet. Top side jobs include selling products or services online, engaging in gig work like food delivery or ride-sharing apps, pursuing artistic ambitions, and social media influencing. While social media is perceived as a source of income for some, it also exacerbates financial anxiety—51% of Gen Zs and 43% of millennials say social media makes them want to buy things they cannot afford.

Persistent stress and burnout are straining these generations

Nearly half of Gen Zs (46%) and four in 10 millennials (39%) say they feel stressed all or most of the time, and stress levels are even higher among women, LGBT+ respondents, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities. In addition to concerns about their personal finances and the welfare of their friends and family, poor work/life balance and heavy workloads contribute to their stress levels. And respondents are struggling to disconnect from work, with 23% of Gen Zs and 30% of millennials saying that they answer work emails outside of normal working hours at least five days a week. These workplace pressures may also be driving the increased levels of burnout since last year.

Also affecting their well-being is social media, which makes approximately four in 10 Gen Zs and millennials feel lonely and inadequate. However, more than half of each generation say that accessing mental health resources has become easier because of social media and that social media has an overall positive impact on their lives—particularly given the ability to connect with friends, family, and social causes.

Caregiving responsibilities are also a factor—more than one-third of Gen Zs (34%) and four in 10 millennials (39%) have daily or periodic caregiving responsibilities for both children and parents or older relatives. While Gen Zs are less likely than millennials to have daily caretaking responsibilities for children, they are slightly more likely to care for parents or older relatives. More than four in 10 Gen Zs and millennials say these responsibilities have a significant impact on their mental health.

The drive for greater environmental sustainability and social impact is guiding lifestyle and career decisions

Six in 10 Gen Zs and millennials say they have felt anxious about the environment in the past month, and roughly the same percentage cite extreme weather events and wildfires as a stress driver. These concerns impact their decision-making, from family planning and home improvements, to what they eat and wear. Respondents are taking a range of actions, such as purchasing an electric vehicle or avoiding driving a car altogether, making their homes more energy-efficient, eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, and avoiding fast fashion in favor of second-hand clothes. Some are deciding to have fewer or no children to reduce their environmental impact.

Climate concerns also play an important role in Gen Zs’ and millennials’ career decisions. More than half of respondents say they research a brand’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job, while notably, one in six say they have already changed jobs or sectors due to climate concerns and around a quarter of respondents say they plan to do so in the future.

In fact, the ability to drive change on social issues overall has the potential to make or break the recruitment and retention of these generations. Nearly four in 10 say they have rejected work assignments due to ethical concerns, while more than one-third have turned down employers that do not align with their values. Gen Zs and millennials want to be empowered to drive change within their organizations, but while they tend to feel they can positively influence their organizations in areas related to products and services, DEI, development and training, and workload management, influence in other critical areas, such as social impact and sustainability, is lagging. About half of Gen Zs and millennials say they are pressuring businesses to act on climate change, but less than one in six say they feel able to influence their organization’s sustainability efforts.

Gen Zs and millennials want their employers to help empower them and provide training and support, both to help them make more sustainable decisions in their own lives, and to develop the skills needed for the transition to a low-carbon economy. More than half of Gen Zs (56%) and half of millennials (50%) say they already receive this training, but it will be essential to scale this learning as it’s estimated that approximately 800 million jobs are vulnerable to climate extremes.

Employers can—and must—act

As businesses face new headwinds, it will be important to talent recruitment and retention efforts for employers to maintain the progress they’ve made and help drive greater momentum.

“Gen Zs and millennials are facing a unique combination of challenges during a pivotal point in their lives as they progress in their careers, grow their families, and care for loved ones,” adds Parmelee. “It is crucial for employers to understand these generations and continue to drive progress on the challenges that matter most to them. This will not only help boost productivity and retain talent—it will ultimately build trust and value for business in society more broadly.”

To learn more about the Deloitte Global 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey and the Mental Health Deep Dive based on the findings visit: www.deloitte.com/genzmillennialsurvey.

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