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Millennials And Gen Z Pushing For Social Change And Accountability

Climate change and other societal issues remain top of mind for New Zealand’s millennials and Gen Zs.

Across the world people have seen a year of intense uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, racial discord, and severe climate events, yet through all this, millennials and Gen Zs across have remained determined to hold themselves and other accountable on society’s most pressing issues. They believe we have arrived at a pivotal moment in history and are demanding changes which will result in a more equitable and sustainable world.

Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, now in its 10th year, interviewed more than 22,000 people across the world, including 500 New Zealanders, and found respondents are channelling their energies towards meaningful action and in turn, as we have found over the years, these generations expect organisations to do more when it comes to societal issues.

Deloitte New Zealand Human Capital partner, Lauren Foster, says “Deloitte has been conducting the millennial survey for 10 years and over that decade we’ve seen millennials and Gen Zs hold true to their values.”

“This commitment to values was demonstrated with 43% of millennials and 47% of Gen Zs in New Zealand indicating that they’ve made choices over the type of work they’d do and the organisation they’re willing to work for based on their personal beliefs,” she said.

Climate change and protecting the environment remained the top area of concern for millennials, and also took the top spot for Gen Zs, who have been interviewed in New Zealand for the first time in this year’s survey. This was the number one concern for all millennial’s a year ago but in 2021, it has slipped to third place with health care and unemployment surpassing it, most likely due to the heightened impact COVID-19 has had in countries outside of New Zealand.

“New Zealand millennials are also feeling more positive about the economic situation for the country compared to global millennials, but it has also improved year-on-year since 2019, said Ms Foster.

In 2019 only 21% of New Zealand millennials expected the overall economic situation to improve over the next 12 months, this increased to 22% in 2020 but has seen a significant jump to 34% in 2021. Gen Zs also feel positive about the hopes for the country’s economic outlook with 37% believing it will improve. Globally only 27% of both millennials and Gen Zs believe the economic situation in their county will improve.

“The relative normalcy in which New Zealanders get to live their lives in a COVID-19 world is highlighted in the results of the Millz Mood impact score. The mood score for New Zealand millennials increased by five points to 39 from 2020, while globally this decreased three points to 34. Global Gen Zs also had their mood score decrease by three points to 36, whereas the first measure for Gen Zs in New Zealand was taken this year and came in at a surprising 43,” Ms Foster said.

However, the stress and prevalence of anxiety across all respondents remained high in the 2021 survey, and highlights there is still further work needed to address mental health issues.

“In New Zealand 40% of millennials and 45% of Gen Zs reported feeling anxious or stressed all or most of the time, which aligned closely with what we saw globally,” said Ms Foster.

This stress is also spilling into the workplace with almost a third of all respondents – 31% of millennials and 35% of Gen Zs – have taken time off work due to stress and anxiety. Yet more than 58% of millennials said that have not spoken openly about this with their employer which could imply mental health continues to carry a stigma.

“There continues to be a need for workplaces to foster an environment which supports employees mental as well as physical health and wellbeing,” Ms Foster said.

“It was disappointing to see in New Zealand that only 31% of millennials and 33% of Gen Zs felt their employer had taken action to support their mental wellbeing during the pandemic. We also saw similar results when respondents were asked if they felt plans and policies are being implemented at work to support their wellbeing moving forward.

“For employees to thrive it is important they have a work environment where they feel supported and able to speak openly about challenges they are experiencing,” said Ms Foster.

The survey also saw the continuation of the decline in millennials (47%) and Gen Zs (48%) thinking business has a positive impact on society. This figure is the first time it has dipped below 50% and marks a drop of almost 30 points since 2017. This sentiment was particularly strong amongst New Zealand millennials where only 40% believe business has a very or fairly positive impact on society.

“Regardless of the global pandemic, millennials and Gen Zs are values-drive and action-oriented, and they hold themselves, business and wider society to account. They expect business to support their vision and implement measures to create a better future for everyone,” Ms Foster said.

For more information and to view the full results of Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial Survey, visit: https://www2.deloitte.com/millennial-survey-2021.html

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