Think You Know Millennials? Think Again, Deloitte Study Says

The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Business Chemistry® group released “The Millennial mindset: Work styles and aspirations of Millennials,” a study analyzing the Business Chemistry types of millennials, baby boomers and Gen Xers.

The surprising results show that close to 60% of millennials identify with two of four primary Business Chemistry types.

  • Guardians (detail-oriented pragmatists) comprise 32%
  • Drivers (focused on outcomes and goals) make up 27%
  • Integrators (values connection and draws teams together) only 23%
  • Pioneers (blue-sky thinking, spontaneous) are 18%

In contrast, the study reveals that baby boomers are represented by millennials’ opposing Business Chemistry types – Pioneer and Integrator, the two most nonlinear, ambiguity tolerant and networked work styles.

“Intriguingly, millennials, the cohort often referred to as ‘generation me,’ are most likely to identify with the pragmatic, detail-oriented Guardian; and least likely to identify with the outgoing, spontaneous and imaginative Pioneer,” says Selena Rezvani, who led the study for the Deloitte Greenhouse Experience group. “It seems some of the most common stereotypes associated with millennials – being wide-eyed idealists and networked social creatures – are at odds with the Business Chemistry types that characterize the majority of this group. Improving generational intelligence by understanding the work preferences of millennials – the largest share of the labor force today – may be the key to unlocking their commitment and engagement.”

Millennials’ scores on 68 traits that make up Business Chemistry were compared to those of the older generations. Statistically-significant differences were found in several traits, one of which is tolerance for ambiguity. Millennials are significantly less likely than their older counterparts to be comfortable not knowing all the answers.

Millennials are more likely to:

  • Take time with decisions
  • Enjoy planning details
  • Be less trusting of others
  • Prefer to have all relevant information when beginning a project
  • Be less comfortable tolerating conflict
  • Prefer to work with colleagues who have strengths similar to their own

Generation stressed

The study revealed that millennials experience the highest levels of stress overall compared with other generations, though not by a large margin. Millennial Integrators and Guardians – the types most likely to tolerate risk rather than embrace it – report the highest stress, with approximately 40% saying they’re stressed much of the time.

“Collectively, these findings point to a millennial that is more deeply layered than stereotypes may lead one to believe. For example, a millennial active on social media may appear to be stereotypically extroverted, but offline they may actually prefer solitude to socializing. Further, our analysis shows that millennials are often more likely to read more deeply into issues and situations, versus simply taking them at face value,” says Kelly Monahan, Deloitte’s Center for Integrated Research. “Perhaps millennials, as the digital natives that they are, understand that there are limits to what you can glean in tone or intent merely from the surface.”

To read more about the study including additional findings, recommendations for maximizing millennial talent and methodology, please see the full report.