According to Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, these generations are deeply concerned about the state of the world. They are worried about the cost of living, climate change, wealth inequality, geopolitical conflicts, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and they are determined to drive positive societal change. However, they are also struggling with daily life challenges such as financial anxiety, lack of work/life balance, and consistently high stress levels.
“This year’s report shows that many Gen Zs and millennials are reassessing what matters most to them as they grapple with the continual disruption and uncertainty of the last few years. This has led to a workplace reckoning which has empowered many to demand sustained changes, including higher compensation, more meaningful and flexible work, more action to address climate change, and an increased focus on well-being. There is an urgent need, and an opportunity, for business leaders to re-define the talent experience to better meet people’s needs,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer.
The cost of living is a major concern
This year, Gen Zs and millennials cited the cost of living as their top personal concern, just above climate change. Concerns about the cost of living may be a symptom of the times, given the rise of inflation, but they also speak to issues that these generations have been expressing for the past 11 years that Deloitte has conducted the survey: they don’t feel financially secure personally, and at a broader societal level, they are deeply concerned about wealth inequality.
About a quarter of Gen Zs (25%) and millennials (21%) say they cannot comfortably pay their living expenses each month, and nearly half live paycheck to paycheck. This likely impacts their ability to save and explains why about three in 10 respondents are not confident they will be able to retire with financial comfort. Meanwhile, about three-quarters of respondents believe that wealth inequality is rising, and only 28% believe the economic situation in their countries will improve in the coming year.
Some Gen Zs and millennials are taking on second jobs and redefining their working patterns to alleviate financial concerns. As many as 43% of Gen Zs and 33% of millennials have taken on a paying part- or full-time job in addition to their primary job. They are also capitalizing on the financial benefits of a remote work environment, with a small but growing percentage moving to less expensive cities.
The Great Resignation puts workers in the driver’s seat
Employee loyalty is up from last year’s survey, potentially because many people changed jobs over the last year. But this still leaves four in 10 Gen Zs and nearly a quarter of millennials who would like to leave their jobs within the next two years, and roughly a third who would do so without another job lined up.
Pay, workplace mental health concerns, and burnout are the top reasons why respondents left their jobs over the last two years. But, when choosing a new job, work/life balance and learning and development are the top priorities.
Respondents see flexible work as a way to find balance in their lives: saving money while making time for the people and activities they care about. Three-quarters of respondents say they’d prefer a hybrid or remote work arrangement, and many would like more flexible working hours.
Purpose continues to be pivotal to talent recruitment and retention. Nearly two in five respondents said they have turned down an assignment or role because it did not align with their values. Meanwhile, those who are satisfied with their employers’ societal and environmental impact—along with their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive culture—are more likely to stay with their employer long-term.
There is a growing emphasis on climate action—at both the individual and organizational level
Climate change continues to be a top concern for Gen Zs and millennials. Three-quarters of respondents agree that the world is at a tipping point in responding to the climate crisis, and roughly two-thirds have already been personally impacted by severe weather events, emphasizing the need for urgent action.
Nine in 10 respondents currently make an effort to protect the environment—primarily focused on everyday actions such as using second-hand and recyclable items or sourcing local and organic food. Gen Zs and millennials are willing to spend more on sustainable products, but financial constraints may make it challenging for them to invest in more expensive items like solar panels and electric vehicles. Still, half of respondents said they plan on making these purchases in the future.
Few respondents believe that businesses and governments are doing enough to combat climate change. As a result, Gen Zs and millennials are advocating for greater action, putting pressure on their employers to invest in visible, everyday environmental actions that they can be directly involved in. A ban on single-use plastics was the No. 1 recommendation, followed by sustainability-oriented benefits and training—ultimately empowering employees to make greener choices in their everyday lives.
Employers increase focus on mental health, but stress and burnout levels remain high
Stress levels continue to be high among respondents, particularly Gen Zs. Nearly half of Gen Zs (46%) and about four in 10 millennials (38%) are stressed all or most of the time. And nearly half of respondents feel burned out due to the pressure of their workloads—about the same percentage of respondents say many of their colleagues have recently left their organizations due to burnout. This signals a retention issue for employers, but about one in five Gen Zs and millennials don’t think their employers are taking it seriously or taking steps to prevent it.
The survey did find that Gen Zs and millennials believe their employers are more focused on well-being and mental health since the start of the pandemic. However, just over half of respondents believe this has not had any meaningful impact on employees.
“Stress and anxiety levels are unlikely to ease as global threats and ongoing disruption from the pandemic continue to affect Gen Zs’ and millennials’ daily lives and their long-term view of the world,” adds Parmelee. “Business leaders must play a role in supporting better mental health at work, and in mitigating the causes of stress and burnout. Better mental health resources, setting boundaries to protect work/life balance, creating stigma-free environments, and empowering their people to drive change are just a few of the ways leaders can support better workplace mental health.”
The 2022 report reflects the survey responses of 14,808 Generation Zs and 8,412 millennials (23,220 respondents in total), from 46 countries across North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific. The survey was conducted using an online, self-complete-style interview. Fieldwork was completed between 24 November 2021 and 4 January 2022.
In addition to the survey, in April 2022, a virtual qualitative assessment was conducted with 15 Gen Zs and millennials from Australia, India, Japan, the UK, and US. The participants shared their personal thoughts on questions related to their societal concerns, finances, the future of work, climate change, and mental health.
The report represents a broad range of respondents, from those with executive positions in large organizations to others who are participating in the gig economy, doing unpaid work or are unemployed. Additionally, the Gen Z group includes students who have completed or are pursuing degrees, those who have completed or plan to complete vocational studies, and others who are in secondary school and may or may not pursue higher education.
As defined in the study, Gen Z respondents were born between January 1995 and December 2003, and millennial respondents were born between January 1983 and December 1994.