The Future of the Workforce: Insights from a Gen Z and Millennial Survey


Deloitte recently released its annual Gen Z and Millennial survey that gives insight on the next generation of workers. The start and end dates for their associated cohorts varies slightly, but it is generally agreed upon that Millennials comprise those born between 1981-1996, and Gen Z those born 1997-2012. The survey connected with 14,483 Gen Z and 8,373 millennials across 44 countries.

There are 3 key issues and trends for Gen Z and Millennials:

Key Issues

  1. Stress and anxiety levels remain high and burnout is on the rise

According to the survey, nearly half of Gen Z (46%) and four in 10 millennials (39%) say they feel stressed or anxious at work all or most of the time. Key factors driving stress levels are longer-term financial futures, day-to-day finances, and the health/welfare of their families. Mental health concerns, heavy workloads, poor work/life balance and unhealthy team cultures were also a consideration.

Whilst both groups agree that employers are starting to take mental health more seriously, support and resources are still under-utilised.

  1. The high cost of living looms large for Gen Z and Millennials

In terms of societal concerns, the high cost of living sits at the top, followed by unemployment and climate change. Half of Gen Z and millennials say they live paycheque to paycheque, and they worry that a potential economic recession has led employers to backtrack on climate action. They also worry that it will hamper their ability to ask for much needed pay increases, continue pushing for flexibility, or find new jobs.

To face financial pressures, Gen Z and Millennials are taking on side jobs, delaying key financial milestones such as buying a house or starting a family, and adopting money-saving behaviours such as buying second-hand clothes or not driving a car.

Whilst financial concerns loom, Gen Z and Millennials have differing outlooks. Gen Z are more likely to expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next year (44% of Gen Zs versus 35% of millennials).

  1. Harassment in the workplace is a significant concern, particularly for Gen Zs

More than six in 10 Gen Z (61%) and around half of millennials (49%) have experienced harassment or microaggressions at work in the past 12 months. These could be in the form of inappropriate emails, physical advances, and physical contact. Microaggressions include exclusion, gender-based undermining and unwanted jokes.

Of those who experienced harassment, around eight in 10 reported it to their employer, however, a third of Gen Zs and a quarter of millennials don’t think the issues were handled effectively. Women, non-binary people, and LGBTQ+ respondents are less likely to report harassment to their employer and less likely to feel their organisation responded well.

Key Trends

  1. High expectations for business among Gen Z and millennials go largely unmet

There are a few key items that are vital for Gen Z and Millennials: work/life balance, DEI, societal impact and environmental sustainability. Whilst companies are now pushing for these initiatives, the two groups have definitely seen an improvement in these aspects. However, whilst respondents acknowledge that their employers have made some progress, the majority remain unimpressed with businesses’ societal impact overall; less than half believe business is having a positive impact on society. Gen Z are slightly more likely to believe business is having a positive impact (48% versus 44% of millennials).

Gen Z and Millennials have high expectations from their employers and feel they have a key role to addressing social and environmental issues.

  1. Gen Zs and Millennials are rethinking the role of work in their lives

There are a few key trends when it comes to the role of work in Gen Z’s and Millennials’ lives. They think work is central to their identity, however a good work/life balance is the top consideration when choosing an employer.

Gen Z and Millennials value remote work and hybrid options. Three-quarters of respondents who are currently working in remote or hybrid roles would consider looking for a new job if their employer asked them to go on-site full-time. Condensed four-day work weeks—giving people more consolidated personal time, while avoiding some of the concerns that respondents have about part-time work, are also in high demand amongst the two groups.

There is also a rise in part-time jobs. Improving career advancement opportunities for part-timers is the highest-ranked solution among respondents for achieving better work/life balance.  However, most don’t feel that reducing their hours would be a realistic option as they can’t afford the pay cut it would require. They also worry that their workload wouldn’t be reduced accordingly, and that they’d be passed over for promotion opportunities, or given less interesting work.

  1. Climate change is a major concern for Gen Z and Millennials, but finances are making it harder for them to prioritise sustainability

Climate change is a concern that colours many decisions that Gen Z and Millennials make, such as family planning, home improvements, what they eat, wear and workplace choices. With seven in 10 respondents saying they actively try to minimise their impact on the environment. Financial concerns may put a damper on these efforts; more than half of respondents think it will become harder or impossible to pay more for sustainable products and services if the economic situation stays the same or worsens.

They also see their employers taking a role to provide the necessary skills and training to prepare the workface for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Key Takeaways for Business Leaders

Now that Gen Z and Millennials have highlighted the key issues and trends that affect them, it’s the job of business leaders to adapt their way to attract and retain the best talent. At Polestar, 75% of the staff belong to the Millennial and Gen Z category, with almost 63% being just Gen Z. Chances are your staff may also have a large contingent of the same age groups.

To remain competitive in the workforce and retain top talent, business leaders will need to accelerate progress towards aspects like work/life balance, DEI, and environmental issues. They will need to confront the financial concerns that their younger workforce will have, and ensure that organisations have the ability and responsibility to help ensure the financial wellbeing of their employees. An example can be offering market-competitive salaries and benefits. Employers will have to learn to be flexible in where and when people work, and learn to adapt for a hybrid model if possible.

Whilst change may be hard, it will become necessary as more and more of the workforce includes the younger generations.


By Anusheh Khan on 02/10/2023