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Davos: Deloitte Millennial survey - innovation as important as profit


Davos, Switzerland, 24 January 2013: According to a global Deloitte survey of Millennials , 78% of the world’s future business leaders believe innovation is essential for business growth and one of the top three ‘purposes’ of business.  However only 26% of Millennials in the 18 countries surveyed, feel that business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster innovation, in particular encouraging idea sharing, regardless of seniority.

“Sharing ideas freely in an organisation is critical for innovation to flourish and thrive,” said Deloitte Australia’s Chief Strategy Officer Gerhard Vorster. “While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it’s clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation -not just as a driver of productivity and business growth, but as a catalyst for solving society’s most pressing problems.

“Millennials pinpoint creativity (62%) as the characteristic that will mark out future innovators, followed by academic ability, technical skills and most tellingly – the ability to challenge,” he said.

Australian Summary 

“Despite our superior economic performance, the Australian survey results were disappointing with only 58% of the Millennials interviewed in this country, believing they work for an innovative company - predominantly in the TMT and E&R sectors.

“Although more than half (54%) of Australian Millennials believe that the importance of innovation is clearly demonstrated in their organisations, it remains well under the 79% of Australian Millennials who believe that innovation is essential for growth.”

Conditions the global Millennials believe are required to foster innovation also differed markedly from the reality and include:

  • leadership encouraging idea sharing regardless of seniority (42%) with only 26% saying their current organisation operates in this way
  • a clear vision for the future (41%)
  • encouraging and rewarding idea generation and creativity (39%)with only 20% saying their current organisation operates in this way
  • commitment to successfully advancing innovative ideas (39%) with only 25% saying their current organization operates this way.

Deloitte surveyed close to 5,000 Millennials across the 18 countries. The business community is regarded as playing a lead role in developing innovations that will benefit society. Almost half of the respondents (45%) believe business drives the innovations that most positively impact society, compared to government (18%) and academic bodies (17%). 

Talent as a catalyst for innovation

Innovation is seen as an important component of talent recruitment and retention. Two-thirds of the Millennials surveyed say innovation is a key factor in making an organisation an employer of choice. This is particularly relevant to many companies, attracting the ever-growing number of Millennials, who are forecasted to make up 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025.

However, discrepancies were found when Millennials were asked about the requirements for innovation:

  • 34% say providing employees with free time to dedicate to learning and creativity is key to an innovative environment, versus 17% who characterize their workplace that way
  • 32% consider openness and the freedom to challenge as key to innovation, versus 17% who say this is visible in their organisations
  • 42% believe in the importance of encouraging innovative thinking at all levels of the organisation, versus 26% who describe their places of employment that way.

“A generational shift is taking place in business as Baby Boomers begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire,” said Vorster. “Real opportunity exists for organisations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society.”

Views on innovation vary by geography and industry

  • Respondents in the BRIC countries consider themselves and their companies to be innovative, while respondents from Japan place their companies at the bottom in nearly every aspect of innovation.  For example, 70% of respondents within the BRIC countries rate their employers as innovative, while only 25% of respondents in Japan did so.
  • Six in ten (62%) would describe themselves as innovative, ranging from India (81 percent), Thailand (79%), South Africa (78%), and Brazil (77%) to Japan (24%)
  • 65% of respondents feel their company’s activities benefit society, led by Brazil (83%), India (74%), and Germany (73%). Only 46% answered affirmatively in South Korea  
  • The sectors considered to be responsible for the most innovations are: technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) (52%); consumer goods/services (47%) and manufacturing (37%)
  • The sectors considered to be most in need of innovations are: education (27%); electric power (18%), and national government (17%).

1 Millennials – born January 1982 onwards.

To view the survey results from Australia, visit: Australian Summary Page

For more information and to view the Global survey results, visit:

NB: See our media releases and research at

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Gerhard Vorster
Job Title:
Chief Strategy Officer Australia and Asia Pacific
Tel: +61 2 9322 7604
Vessa Playfair
Deloitte Australia
Job Title:
Head of Corporate Affairs
Tel: +61 2 9322 7576, Mobile: +61 419 267 676




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