Millennials Work for Purpose, Not Just Profit

Benjamin Warsinske
Sep 28, 2016 · 4 min read

Millennials often feel like they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are either seen as lazy and apathetic or as progressive and caring. But as we become the largest workforce and some of the most important consumers, it is best to understand how we are reshaping society.

Brands are shifting into personalized, on-demand experiences driven by the consumer or user online. Consumers care more than ever about the brand’s purpose for existing and how they contribute to making the world a better place through social good. Millennials care about this where they work as well. Purpose plays a big part of that. And communicating an organization’s purpose is more than a statement. It has to be embraced by team members from the inside out for it to be effective.


Starting In and Working Out

Millennials are quickly becoming important members of the workforce. To better understand how they want to work and what works best for them, why not ask?

Deloitte recently conducted a Millennial Survey to gauge how millennials view business’s role in society. The survey polled 7,800 Millennials with college degrees who also work full-time (defined as having been born after 1982). As with past survey results, Millennials indicated that they look for companies who have a strong sense of purpose beyond a profit-driven business model.

Deloitte Global Chairman Steve Almond sums it up this way:

They [Millennials] believe the business ethos has too short-term a focus. Beyond that, millennials believe companies should spend less time on short-time roles and more time on broadly building contributions to society, more time focusing on their people.

Millennials Want Businesses to Shift Their Purpose

As a Millennial myself, I relate strongly to the survey results. In fact, the BrandedWorld Framework and model is a result of research and personal experience in order to help organizations shift their purpose and become more aligned with the values they tout.

Millennials want companies to focus more on people (employees, customers, and society), products, and purpose — and less on profits. One of the big takeaways from the survey was the conclusion that the values of the company may align with Millennials, but that the purpose was mismatched.

The values that support long-term business success are people treatment, ethics, and customer focus. Source: Deloitte

There are five areas where Millennials believe businesses’ sense of purpose should be far greater than is currently the case, according to Deloitte. These areas include:

  • improving skills;
  • income;
  • “satisfaction levels” of employees;
  • creating jobs; and
  • impacting positively on users of their goods and services.

Diametrically opposed is the emphasis on profit and business expansion.

Millennials would prioritize the sense of purpose around people rather than growth or profit maximization. Source: Deloitte

From the survey, the findings paint a clear picture of what Millennials believe to be the foundation of business success.

This generation evaluates such success in ways that go beyond a focus on financial performance, increasing the focus on activities and behaviors that support long-term sustainability. The potential for a “profits-first” approach to alienate Millennials is highlighted by its relationship to a range of variables in our dataset. We see, for example, that where Millennials feel their organizations put “financial performance before everything else,” only 20 percent intend to stay for more than five years (compared to the average of 27 percent). Significant differences are also seen with overall levels of employee satisfaction (42 percent in the “profits-first” business versus an average of 53 percent) and value alignment (61 percent versus 70 percent).

Source: Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016

Check out the full survey here.

Final Thoughts

As Millennials play a larger role in business and society, it appears that a positive shift towards people and purpose is beginning to take place. Social good and social entrepreneurship are themes that are continuing to gain traction across the world. Work becomes more exciting when you realize that what you do can positively impact others around the world. Knowing that, you want to be a part of that vision and to work extremely hard to realize the mission.

Here at, we are committed to driving transformation for brands. We also contribute to and support causes that we strongly believe in. I am personally on the Governing Board for Goldie’s Place, a non-profit dedicated to transforming the lives of the homeless. Here in Chicago, there is a growing population of people who are at risk of becoming homeless. The agency provides employment training and job placement as well as free oral health care. Click here to donate.

Over to You

Are you a Millennial? What do you think of Deloitte’s survey? How can your organization better align their values and purpose?

Originally published at

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