Reflecting a sign of the times, a huge chunk of Gen Z workers is prioritizing work-life balance over other job perks, a new survey shows.
The new GOBankingRates survey finds that 42% of adult Gen Z workers — those aged 18 to 24 — make work-life balance, working from home and flexible vacation time a top priority when looking for a job.
Andrew Hunter, co-founder of global job search engine Adzuna, told GOBankingRates that Gen Z employees have very different expectations than older generations in the workforce, especially now with this “Great Resignation” and a heightened battle for talent.
“It’s imperative that companies understand the unique needs of this group and build cultures that cater to them,” Hunter said.
These findings are in line with a recent GoodHire study on the State of Remote Work in 2021, which shows how the tide is shifting in terms of what American workers prioritize in their work. While higher salaries and performance bonuses formerly led the charge, those perks have since been toppled by the simple freedom to work from home, Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire, told GOBankingRates.
“The pandemic gave employees a true taste of the flexibility that comes with remote work, and understandably, they’re not keen on returning to the office,” Grossman said. “It’s important to keep in mind: For some Gen Z, their entry into the world of work was during the pandemic. These individuals are fully acclimated to a remote setting, and the concept of working in an office is altogether alien.”
Levi Leidy, GOBankingRates editor, echoed the sentiment, saying that the findings reaffirm that young professionals want to move away from the “grind,” even if that means losing out on some money.
“Gen Z has grown up amidst a lot of economic insecurity, both with the pandemic, and for those who remember, the 2008 recession. I think this insecurity has painted an up-close picture of what job stress and money stress looks like, so it makes sense Gen Z prioritizes their personal lives and time off when it comes to picking a job,” Leidy said.
Breaking down the GOBankingRates survey further, Gen Z’s other priorities include career passion, with 19.6%, and money, with 16.5%.
Adzuna’s Hunter noted that while salary has taken a bit of a backseat to other benefits in some cases, money is still very important to Gen Z.
“They want to work in roles that they are passionate about and be compensated fairly. At the same time, they have a desire to feel connected to their organizations. What this means for businesses is that they must be transparent in salary offerings, and vocal about their benefits and how they create a positive work culture,” he said.
Hunter recommends that if a candidate is considering whether or not a role is a fit, they should ask direct questions about how the company defines and promotes its culture, the involvement of leadership and the perks offered.
“These are a good way to get a temperature check to decide if a role is right or if someone should continue their search,” he added.
In addition, the recognition and emphasis on the importance of mental health in the workplace is also a factor and a drastic change from older generations.
“Gen Zers (saw) unhappy workers growing up, so their minds were set not to overwork anymore,” Craig Miller, co-Founder of Academia Labs, said. “Another thing that changed drastically is the better acceptance of taking care of mental health. Nowadays, people value peace and happiness more than anything else. Intense pressure coming from your job is no longer healthy and a source of inspiration, so Gen Zers choose to have a balance on work and life.”
Finally, the survey notes that additional priorities include good management and company values, with 9.7%; high-quality healthcare, with 7.1%; and performance bonuses, with 5.5%.
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Last updated: Sept. 15, 2021
Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed 1,000 Americans aged 18 through 24 from across the country on Aug. 19 through Aug. 20, 2021, asking six different questions: (1) Where did you learn about personal finance?; (2) How much overall debt do you currently have? (Including student loan debt); (3) Do you invest your money? If so, what do you invest in? Select all that apply:; (4) If you had to pick one, what do you prioritize/value the most in a potential job?; (5) Did you move back in with your family during the coronavirus pandemic?; and (6) What do you spend the majority of your money on, aside from rent?. GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum’s survey platform to conduct the poll.