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Retaining talent: Millennials seek leadership development, flexibility, ‘sense of purpose’

Adrian M. Reodique | Jan. 26, 2016
Deloitte survey shows that 66 percent of millennials are likely to leave their companies by 2020.

Employers must focus on developing leadership skills, as well as providing work flexibility and recognising the purpose of millennials to retain their loyalty.

This is according to the findings of a global survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, which polled nearly 7,700 millennials from 29 countries last September and October.

The survey covered both emerging and developed markets, including Asia Pacific countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, India, China, South Korea, and Japan.  

The fifth annual millennial survey also revealed that almost half (44 percent) of the respondents said that, if given the choice, they expect to leave their organisations within the next two years. This figure increases to 66 percent by 2020.

Emerging markets showed a higher intention to leave their companies at 69 percent, as compared to developed markets at 61 percent. Regionally, Latin America has the highest figure at 71 percent; while Western Europe has the lowest at 60 percent.

Lacking leadership skills development

Millennials regard leadership development opportunities as a factor to stay in their companies. However, the survey noted that millennials feel underutilised and that their organisations are not doing enough to develop new leaders.  

In the South East Asia region, more than 70 percent of respondents feels that their "leadership skills are not being fully developed." This figure is higher than the global figure of 63 percent.

In addition, seven in 10 millennials in SEA who are unhappy with the development of their leadership skills are likely to leave their organisations in the next two years.

Work-life balance; flexibility comes after salary

When evaluating a job opportunity, millennials think of work-life balance, opportunities to progress, and work flexibility next to salary.

In the survey, 75 percent of respondents expressed that they would like to start working, or work more frequently, from home or other locations where they are more productive. Half of respondents (51 percent) believe that remote working boosts their productivity; however, only 43 percent of millennials are allowed to do so.  

According to Jason Seng, Singapore Leader of Deloitte's Southeast Asia Human Capital practice: "Local managers should be more open to and accepting of flexible working hours, work patterns, and virtual working; as well as respect the individual's perspectives on work-life balance instead of expecting them to respond 'on-demand."

Nicky Wakefield, Human Capital Leader of Deloitte Southeast Asia added: "SEA's millennial workforce values their organisations' commitment and focus on employee development and an understanding of their needs for work-life balance."

Understanding the "purpose gap"

When it comes to career choice, millennials are guided with their personal values.

In the survey, 56 percent responded that they won't consider an employer based on the organisation's values or conduct; while 49 percent shunned work assignments that conflict with their values or ethics. 


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