Millenials vs. Employers: Clash of Workplace Ethics
Monday, August 29, 2016 5:03:16 PM

Born between 1980 to 2000 as per the Goldman Sachs Global Investment Search, the millennial generation is ready to take the corporate world by storm and change the economics of business. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S., representing one-third of the total U.S. population in 2013. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, millennials will make up 44% of the US workforce by 2025. A PwC report states that in India, they constitute more than half the population. By 2020, they will make up 50% of the global workforce.

There is growing evidence of conflict of workplace ethics between millennials and older generations such as baby boomers and Gen X’ers as the millennials are entering the workplace. Workplace ethics today is drastically different than the ones the people in powerful positions are used to operating in. While baby boomers perfected the art of confrontation and competition, and Gen X’ers believed in the pursuit of bottomline, the millennials are a different breed of “people-first” with different workplace expectations.

Employers who disregard being good ‘corporate citizens’ may discover themselves in a clash with the huge number of Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z. The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, which was surveyed more than 7000 employees finds “Almost nine in 10 (87 percent) believe that ‘the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance’.” “Millennials still want businesses to focus more on people (employees, customers, and society), products, and purpose—and less on profits.”

Millennials are emphasizing on working for organizations that reflect their personal values and they place great value on the feeling that people are still more important than just being profitable. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, when asked about the most important values that a business should imbibe to taste long-standing success, the majority of the response was “that they should put employees first, and have a solid foundation of trust and integrity.” Customer care, high quality products, and attention to environment and society also received high rankings. “Seven in 10 believe their personal values are shared by the organizations for which they work.”

While they think businesses can do good to society (73 percent), they “remain wary of their motivations” – the ambition to do more than just make money. The 2016 survey results suggest that millennials think there is still much to be done by organizations they work for in terms of where their core values should lie.

Millennials are also likely to stick with their organizations if they share its sense of purpose, says the report published by Deloitte. Only 20 percent plan on staying for more than five years if they feel employers placing more credence on financial performance.

The report puts millennials’ understanding of sense of purpose around the following:

  • Improvement of skills, income levels, and employee satisfaction
  • Creation of jobs
  • Positive impact on users of product and services


If generational conflicts are not addressed, chances are organizations will stare at higher turnover, lower productivity, frustrated employees, and lower profits. Here are a few ways in which organizations can align themselves better with the values of the millennial employees:

Provide regular feedback and coaching: They grew up in the age of Facebook and Twitter, they are digitally connected all the time. They want to be able to ask questions and get feedback all the time and in real-time. They seek career advice and want to be able to turn to someone for advice at work. They do not want to wait six months for a performance review unlike older generations who may prefer structured systems to give feedback.

Provide flexible work environments: Millennials do not want to work fixed hours in a cubicle, they want to work when they want to work, and from anywhere. Apart from salary and financial benefits which motivate them to work, they seek work-life balance and flexible working environments to derive a sense of their organizations becoming the best place to work.

Provide opportunities for learning and professional development: Among other things, millennials also want to see themselves grow and take on leadership roles. They are likely to be loyal to the organization if they see opportunities to progress and learning opportunities such as training programs that support professional development.