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The issues motivating millennials

In the midst of pandemic lockdowns, and following the release of the IPCC report detailing the urgent need to address global warming, it’s clear that society is leaving its next generation of leaders some big challenges.

The latest Deloitte Millennial Survey provides insight into millennials’ and Gen Zs’ most pressing concerns, based on a survey of 14,600 millennials (born 1983-94) and 8,200 Gen Zs (born 1995-03) from 45 countries around the world.

Australia’s millennials and Gen Zs are determined to hold themselves and others accountable on society’s most pressing issues. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the number one concern for them was climate change, nominated by one-third of Australian respondents. In fact, protecting the environment was selected ahead of other key issues including healthcare/disease prevention and unemployment.

But there is something of a silver lining. While COVID-19 induced lockdowns have triggered devastating social and economic consequences, it has also given nature something of a chance. Close to two-thirds of Australian millennials and Gen Zs said environmental changes brought about by restrictions have made them more optimistic that environmental damages could be reversed in the future.

Discrimination is widespread and older generations are stalling progress

In the era of Black Lives Matter, it’s no surprise that around half of Australian Millennials and Gen Zs believe systemic racism is widespread in society. In fact, one in five said they personally experience discrimination ‘all the time’ because of their background.

And the majority believe it’s older generations that are standing in the way. This is especially true among Australian Gen Zs, with three in five agreeing older generations are blocking progress with respect to discrimination. The majority of millennials (60%) also said their generation has done more than any other to help tackle discrimination.

Looking forward, roughly two-thirds said positive change needed to come from the top down, with citizens, government and the education system nominated as key agents of change.

Mental health a key issue and employers’ efforts are inadequate

Nearly half of all Australian millennials and Gen Zs said they feel stressed or anxious some or all the time, driven by uncertainty around their longer-term financial future, and job/career prospects.

But with Lifeline announcing a record high of 3,345 calls made to its service earlier this month, it’s possible the number of millennials and Gen Zs experiencing stress/anxiety could be even higher today.

Women were far more likely to report experiencing stress or anxiety than men – up to 1.7 times higher for female Gen Zs in Australia compared to their male peers – suggesting this may be a group to target with additional support.

Despite how prevalent this issue is, approximately 40% of Australian respondents felt their employers had done a poor job of supporting their mental health during the pandemic.

As this new Delta variant continues to ripple through the country and lockdowns persist, protecting the mental health of those around us should be a priority for all moving forward.