According to the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTTL) Millennial Survey, 78% of the world’s future business leaders believe innovation is essential for business growth. However, as the economic crisis enters its sixth year, just 26% of Millennials feel that business leaders are doing enough to encourage practices that foster innovation. 
“Innovation at the institutional level is needed to sufficiently shift an organisation’s mindset to allow new ideas to truly emerge and thrive,” says Deloitte Global CEO Barry Salzberg.
“While our current business leaders can debate how and where to innovate, it’s clear how much importance our future leaders place on innovation – not just as a driver of business growth but also as a catalyst for solving society’s most pressing problems.”
DTTL surveyed close to 5 000 Millennials from 18 countries. When gauging the perception among future leaders about innovation and its impact on society, 84% say business innovations have a positive impact on society, and 65% feel their own company’s activities benefit society in some way.
The business community is regarded as playing a lead role in developing innovations that will benefit society. Almost half of the respondents (45%) believe business drives the innovations that most positively impact society, compared to government (18%) and academic bodies (17%).
Innovation is also an important component of talent recruitment and retention. Two-thirds of the Millennials surveyed say innovation is a key factor in making an organisation an employer of choice.
This is particularly relevant to many companies, attracting the ever-growing number of Millennials, who are forecasted to make up 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025.
However, discrepancies were found when Millennials were asked about the requirements for innovation:
* 39% of respondents believe that encouragement and rewards for idea generation and creativity is a requirement for innovation to occur, whereas only 20% say their current organisation operates in this way.
* 34% say providing employees with free time to dedicate to learning and creativity is key to an innovative environment, versus 17% who characterise their workplace that way.
* 32% consider openness and the freedom to challenge as key to innovation, versus 17% who say this is visible in their organisations.
* 42% believe in the importance of encouraging innovative thinking at all levels of the organisation, versus 26% who describe their places of employment that way.
“A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the ‘old way’ of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire,” says Salzberg. “Real opportunity exists for organisations to step up and create the conditions and commitment needed to encourage and foster innovation in their work environments. And there’s a tremendous upside if we get this right: we can better retain talent, remain more competitive into the future, and more positively impact society.”
Views on innovation vary by geography and industry:
* Respondents in the BRIC countries consider themselves and their companies to be innovative, while respondents from Japan place their companies at the bottom in nearly every aspect of innovation.  For example, 70% of respondents within the BRIC countries rate their employers as innovative, while only 25% of respondents in Japan did so.
* Six in ten (62%) would describe themselves as innovative, ranging from India (81%), Thailand (79%), South Africa (78%), and Brazil (77%) to Japan (24%).
* 65% of respondents feel their company’s activities benefit society, led by Brazil (83%), India (74%), and Germany (73%). Only 46% answered affirmatively in South Korea.
* The sectors considered to be responsible for the most innovations are: technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) (52%); consumer goods/services (47%) and manufacturing (37%).
* The sectors considered to be most in need of innovations are: education (27%); electric power (18%), and national government (17%).