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Millennials v Gen Z: How they spend, save and work

Cameron Micallef
Cameron Micallef
22 May 2019 3 minute readShare

New global research shows that Millennials and Gen Z have some surprising attitudes towards work, money and the world around them, which have the potential to impact business sales and employment alike.

Gen Zs are generally accepted as people born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Millennials are generally accepted as people born in the early 1980s to the mid-1990s.

According to a survey by Deloitte, both Millennials and Gen Z can be uneasy and pessimistic about their careers, lives and the world around them.

On the flip side, Millennials and Gen Z are eager for social changes and to align with businesses that adapt to this way of thinking.

How they work

Millennials and Gen Z make up more than half the world’s population and, together, they account for a large proportion of the global workforce. According to Deloitte, they are no longer the future, they are the present, meaning businesses need to react or risk being alienated.

For business leaders who tackle social issues, Millennials and Gen Z show a deeper loyalty.

As consumers, they are inclined to spend with ethical businesses than previous generations.

Millennials and Gen Z also want to see purpose and meaningful action in their work, and expect business to enhance lives and livelihoods. Typically, they don’t see enough businesses acting in such a way.

Organisations that are able to make the world a brighter place for Millennials and Gen Z are the ones themselves that are having the brightest futures.

Millennials indicated they would not hesitate to do freelance or contract work. Overall, the gig economy appeals to four out of five Millennials and Gen Z, citing the opportunity to earn more money and work flexible hours as the main reasons for taking on such work.

Spending and saving habit

For Millennials, while earning a high salary is still a priority, a vast majority do not see having children, buying a home and other traditional signs of adulthood as successful markers.

Instead, travelling and seeing the world is top of their priorities. They are also more attracted to the idea of making a positive impact on their communities and society than having children of their own.

Positive economic sentiment among Millennials is at its lowest in the last six years, with only 26 per cent of respondents believing the economy is going to improve in their respective country.

The younger generations are more likely to speak with their wallets in ways that differ from previous generations. Millennials and Gen Z start and stop relationships with businesses for very personal reasons, often due to the impact they are having on society.

For example, 42 per cent of Millennials said they have begun or deepened a business relationship due to how a business impacts on society, while a similar proportion (37 per cent) have soured on a business relationship due to poor business ethics.

Such results echo the sentiments of Qantas boss Alan Joyce, who told a recent business seminar that “what we are finding quite a bit is with Generation Y and Z and Millennials, they are becoming more discerning about companies they want to work for and buy from”.

What they’re scared of

In the past two years especially, there has been a steep decline in respondents’ views on the economy, their country’s social/political situations, and institutions like the government, the media and businesses as a whole.

Among the 20 challenges facing society, Millennials and Gen Z rated climate change/protecting the environment as number one.

Secondly was personal safety, as terrorism, crime and war all placed in the top seven for youths.

How they see society and politics

Two-thirds of Millennials believe that because of their backgrounds, some people never have a chance of success, no matter how hard they work. However, an equal number believe anyone can succeed if they put their minds to it.

In March, nearly a million secondary students worldwide skipped school to protest against climate change. Both Millennials and Gen Z appreciate government as an institution, embrace its promise and look for it as leadership. However, they are frustrated with inaction and, as a result, have a low opinion of their government.

Are they scared of robots?

Millennials are using technologies that did not exist at the start of their careers, with 49 per cent of them believing their job will be augmented. Yet only 15 per cent fear it will replace their job entirely.

Despite being known as generation disrupted, Millennials are profoundly disrupting businesses and society alike. Some decisions are passive, such as the delay in having children, while others are more proactive with the shaking up of established norms.

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Millennials v Gen Z: How they spend, save and work
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Cameron Micallef
Cameron Micallef

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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