Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > Don’t Believe All You Hear About Millennial Workers

Don’t Believe All You Hear About Millennial Workers

December 19, 2023

As we are all getting older, the Detroit Metro workforce is becoming more age-diverse, as 49% of our region’s population is under 40. The youngest Detroit area baby boomers are nearing retirement age.

This demographic shift is playing out in cities across the country, generating a lot of speculation about its impact on workplace culture and values. Much of that speculation is based on assumptions about the work ethic and attitudes of millennials, the incoming generation of business leaders. Their expanding influence in the office, the factory, and other enterprises could profoundly alter the future of work.

Deloitte Global sought the views of more than 8,300 millennial workers as part of its 2023 Global Gen Z and Millennial survey. The results challenge some of the most common assumptions about millennials and their approach to work. Here are three myths about millennials that deserve closer scrutiny:

MYTH #1: Millennials only seek out work that aligns with their values and views about environmental and social issues.

David Parent headshot

David Parent

While younger workers tend to be purpose-driven, financial factors prevent them from putting purpose over pay. The 2023 Deloitte Global survey found that millennials are far more concerned about the cost of living than climate change (42% compared to 23%).  Previous surveys have consistently shown that dissatisfaction with financial compensation is by far the main reason millennials seek new jobs– though concerns about a company’s culture, values, or societal impact is also a common complaint. To attract and keep millennial (and other) workers around, organizations should prioritize both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

MYTH #2: Millennials work to live, not live to work.

A large majority of surveyed millennials – 63% – said work is central to their lives. They are certainly willing to work, but not necessarily in the same way their parents did. In keeping with their focus on work/life balance, surveyed millennials have a strong preference for hybrid work. Seventy-five percent of the survey respondents with remote or hybrid jobs said they would consider looking for a new job if asked to work on-site full time.

MYTH #3: Millennials lack ambition.

Not only is work a central part of their lives, but the survey found that 37% of surveyed millennials have taken a second job to supplement their primary income. They also voiced a
desire to have more impact within their organizations on issues they care about, including issues closely tied to traditional business objectives. More than a third of surveyed millennials (36%) said they have opportunities to positively influence their employer’s products and services, as well as personal development and training within their organization.

One of the survey findings found that 55% of surveyed millennials say their organization currently seeks input from employees and incorporates their feedback. Communications across all employees can help employers strike a balance between idealism and practicality and turn aspirations into meaningful changes that can benefit businesses, their employees, and our communities.

David Parent is Michigan Managing Principal at Deloitte LLP.