A millennial mistrust

A millennial mistrust

Monday, 28 may 2018 | Brenda Rodríguez López

How do companies face the digital transformation? Are enterprises focusing more on technical knowledge than on a good orientation and counseling of the professionals? According to the conclusions of the last Annual Millennial Survey carried out by Deloitte, everything suggests that they are. While millennials and centennials are identified as the great leaders of the imminent industrial revolution, they seem increasingly worried about the business support that they will get and skeptical about the motivation and ethics within the companies. What are the reasons for this mistrust? What consequences can this lack of trust have?


Relationships are established or preserved through instant messaging. We buy more and more with clicks and less and less with wallets. Cellphones are another part of our bodies, inalienable and essential for living. When someone does not upload pictures of their trips on social networking sites, the suspicion about whether they have really visited a place grows. Without the creation, definition and care of digital personal brands, the chances of growing professionally are limited. Influencers become the new gurus of the 21st century. Discussions end up with several searches on Google. Data is the new currency. Cars and robots need drivers and programmers less and less. Algorithms and blockchain become the new promises for the future. A new disruptive environment has turned the keys of our social behavior upside down.

This paradigm shift also implies an imperative transition towards a new digitalized working  model. The disconnected workers struggle with the current, this is a transversal and unavoidable transformation. At this turning point where we find ourselves, the younger generations are expected to support and face with greater resolution and effort the challenges of the great transformation. Because the digital natives are those who are changing, in large part, the rules of the game, and it is  the so-called millennials, who will also be part of the new emerging workforce, the ones who will have to face the consequences of these changes. However, while the hopes are placed in young people, how do they envision the business world?

A matter of ethics

A survey conducted by Deloitte to 10,455 millennials from 36 countries and to 1,850 centennials from six countries has revealed the lack of trust that these generations have in business ethics. According to the previously referred Annual Millennial Survey, the respondents that believe that companies act ethically account for less than a half, in particular, 48% of them, a percentage 17% lower than in 2017. When these young people offer their perspective on the corporate leaders' commitment to contribute to the social improvement, the figure does not improve, it is 47%, down 15%. These data are even more revealing if we take into account that, during the last two years, the percentages increased annually and these are the lowest data in four years. What are the reasons behind this setback?
The respondents think that their organizations are more focused on boosting efficiency and producing goods and services than on other issues that they consider are critical like job creation, a bid for innovation, improving standards of living and the career of the employees or the positive impact on society and environment. According to the Global CEO of Deloitte, Punit Renjen, the change in the opinion of millennials and centennials is related to "the rapid social, technological and geopolitical changes of the past year".

Young people recognize that companies need to achieve their benefits to meet these demands. However, they deem that companies should establish a better balance between the goals and the financial performance. Three quarters of millennials believe that large multinationals are able to contribute to solving economic, social and environmental challenges. That statement indicates that they also consider that corporations should be more responsible in that area.

According to the analysis of the software platform HRider on talent management, millennials demand but also give. In this performance assessment of 1,500 workers in Spain and Latin America, the results also show the interest of young people in the corporate culture and the commitment to values like respect, ethics and integrity -they are the criteria where their score is higher-.

A millennial mistrust

Who is ready for the next revolution?

The talent drain is one of the symptoms of this mistrust. 43% of the millennials who participated in the Deloitte's survey plan to leave their job in two years and only 28% consider keeping their current position for more than five years. Young people are also worried when facing the changes brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Beyond the technical issues, these generations demand a good orientation from the companies in order to face this big change. Millennials point out that trust and interpersonal skills are values to boost and centennials emphasize ethical attitudes and integrity.

If companies want to attract and retain the young talent that is part of them and face successfully the digital transformation challenge, they cannot turn a deaf ear to the voices of these generations that demand the promotion of values like tolerance, diversity, flexibility, respect and inclusion. The millennial mistrust is just a wake-up call that reminds us that the defeat of digital transformation is not only technological, but it also requires a deep ethical reflection.

With the aim of preparing those professionals who are capable of facing the challenges of the business world of tomorrow in a constantly changing environment, The CEU IAM Business School has designed a Global MBA focused on a leadership which is engaged with a deep sense of business ethics.