Survey: Malaysia’s millennials, Gen-Zs join their international peers in seeing Covid-19 period as opportunity to build a better future

People wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur July 11, 2020. A survey found that in the face of unprecedented health and economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, millennials and Generation-Zs (Gen-Zs) have expressed their resolve to build a better future. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
People wearing face masks in Kuala Lumpur July 11, 2020. A survey found that in the face of unprecedented health and economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, millennials and Generation-Zs (Gen-Zs) have expressed their resolve to build a better future. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 has found that in the face of unprecedented health and economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, millennials and Generation-Zs (Gen-Zs) have expressed their resolve to build a better future.

In a statement today, the global consultancy firm said that even in the midst of crisis, both groups are recommitting to improve society, and pushing for a world in which businesses and governments mirror their own commitments.

The survey, according to Deloitte, consisted of two parts: a “primary” survey of 18,426 millennials and Gen-Zs across 43 countries conducted between November 2019 and early January 2020; and a “pulse” survey of 9,102 individuals over 13 countries done between April and May of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic.

Climate change

In the survey, the environment remains a top concern as some fear climate change damage is irreversible.

But environmental changes during the pandemic gave some optimism.

“Climate change emerged as a critical issue for millennials and Gen-Zs both before and during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Prior to the pandemic, half of the respondents said they believe it was too late to repair damages caused by climate change and only 40 per cent globally (39 per cent Malaysians) expressed optimism that future efforts to protect the environment would succeed,” the firm said. 

However, four months later in the pulse survey conducted in 13 countries, the percentage of millennials believing “we’ve reached the point of no return” dropped by eight points, perhaps suggesting that the environmental impact of reduced activity during the pandemic has given hope that there is still time to act.

“A vast majority (80 per cent) also think governments and businesses need to make greater efforts to protect the environment.

“But yet they are concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic might make this less of a priority,” the firm said.

Stress and mental wellness

Prior to the pandemic, 46 per cent of Malaysian millennials agreed that they felt anxious or stressed all or most of the time.

Deloitte said respondents cited personal long-term financial future (57 per cent), family’s welfare (54 per cent), and job or career prospects (50 per cent) as primary sources of stress.

“Stress levels fell in the second survey, possibly indicating that the slowdown of life in lockdown may have reduced stress levels.

“Despite the slight decline seen in the pulse survey, stress and mental wellness remain as critical issues for younger generations and these issues are manifested in work settings,” the firm said.

The survey found that approximately one-third of millennials and Gen-Zs (29 per cent globally, 39 per cent in Malaysia) took time off work due to stress before the pandemic, and both groups (69 per cent millennials and 64 per cent Gen-Zs) agreed having the option to work from home in the future would relieve stress.

Financial concerns

Another stressor for millennials is financial concerns, the survey found.

“In the primary survey, more millennials (50 per cent) believed their financial situation will worsen or stagnate in the next year rather than improving.

“When analysing results from the 13 countries in the pulse survey, 61 per cent of millennial respondents conveyed the same lack of optimism during the pandemic.

“Still, there is some short-term optimism as more than half of millennials in the pulse survey, and nearly half of Gen-Zs, say they have three months’ worth of  income savings which may help them face financial ramifications that are to come,” the firm said.

Determined to improve the world

Despite being hard hit by the pandemic, the younger generation has begun taking social responsibility as a personal calling.

“In the pulse survey, respondents indicated they were taking ‘socially- conscious’ actions to benefit the planet and society.

“Nearly three quarter of the respondents said the pandemic has made them more sympathetic to the needs of others, and that they will take action to positively impact their communities,” the firm said. 

About 60 per cent of both groups said they plan to buy more products and services from businesses that have taken care of their workforce, while three quarters will make an extra effort to buy products and services from smaller and local businesses.

Employer-employee loyalty

For the first time since the survey was done four years ago, more millennials (35 per cent globally, 34 per cent Malaysians) in the primary survey said they want to stay with their employers for five or more years than leave within two years, while those who would leave in two years or less dropped from 38 per cent to 23 per cent in Malaysia.

“Respondents were also largely receptive to how employers were navigating the Covid-19 outbreak as two-thirds said they were pleased with the speed and manner by which employers acted.

“Around 60 per cent believe these actions have made them want to stay with their employers for long term,” the firm said. 

The first survey began prior to the Covid-19 outbreak where fieldwork was completed between November 21, 2019 to January 8, 2020.

A second survey was conducted in a similar fashion between April 28 and May 17, in the midst of the pandemic.

The initial survey sought the views of 13,715 millennials across 43 countries and 4,711 Gen-Z respondents from 20 countries.

The subsequent survey was conducted on 5,501 millennials and 3,601 Gen-Zs in 13 large markets that were affected by the pandemic to different degrees.

The report represents a broad range of respondents, from those with executive positions in large organisations to others who are participating in the gig economy, doing unpaid work or are unemployed.

Additionally, the Gen-Z group includes students who have completed or are pursuing tertiary studies, those who have completed or plan to complete vocational studies, and others who are in secondary school and may or may not pursue higher education.

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