Five things on the Millennial wish list

Barry Salzberg
Professor, Columbia Business School
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Leadership?
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Quantifying the Millennial zeitgeist has captivated academics and the media alike. And yet, despite the extensive coverage on the subject, I think we’re all still struggling to define what this generation actually wants. Facebook might tell us what they “like” and Spotify what they listen to … but as a leader of a major international organization with more than 200,000 employees, I’m particularly interested by their expectations for their careers.

And therein lies the question: what does the Millennial generation want to be when it grows up? A new survey of Millennials (born January 1983 onwards), conducted globally by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited provides some fascinating insights:

  1. Millennials expect businesses to care. While most Millennials believe business is having a positive impact on society by generating jobs (48%) and increasing prosperity (71%), they think business can do much more to address society’s challenges in the areas of most concern: resource scarcity (68%), climate change (65%) and income equality (64%).
  2. Millennials want to be innovative. Millennials want to work for organizations that support innovation. In fact, 78% of Millennials were influenced by how innovative a company was when deciding if they wanted to work there, but most say their current employer does not do enough to encourage them to think creatively. They believe the biggest barriers to innovation are management attitude (63%), operational structures and procedures (61%), and employee skills, attitudes and lack of diversity (39%).
  3. Millennials want to be leaders. Almost one in four Millennials are “asking for a chance” to show their leadership skills. Additionally, 75% believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders.
  4. Millennials want to make a difference. Millennials believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance, with a focus on improving society among the most important things it should seek to achieve. Millennials are also charitable and interested to participate in “public life”: 63% of Millennials gave to charities, 43% actively volunteered or were a member of a community organization and 52% signed petitions.
  5. Millennials are ready to go their own way. Businesses that fail to address the above concerns may find they will lose skilled professionals in the years ahead, as many of the most talented members of the Millennial generation decide to leave large organizations and instead work for themselves. Roughly 70% of Millennials see themselves working independently at some point, rather than being employed within a traditional organizational structure.

This week, some of the most influential figures in business, government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are gathering at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss how to “Reshape the World.” I think it’s clear that Millennials are demanding change, and it’s time business took notice. They can’t afford not to: by 2025 Millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce.

First published on LinkedIn Influencers

Author: Barry Salzberg is Global CEO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. He is participating in the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. 

Image: Sahil Lavingia, 19, CEO of Gumroad, an online payments company he started. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Progress for women in the workplace stagnating in four key areas, global study reveals

Emma Codd

May 21, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum