Gen Z & Millennials Would Rather Be Unemployed Than Unhappy at Work

Shot of a young woman mopping the floor of a coffee shop during the day.
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More than half of employees (56%) age 18 to 24, a demographic classified as Gen Z, say they would quit a job that prevented them from enjoying their lives, a new survey suggests. Forty percent of this demographic said they would “rather be unemployed than unhappy working in a job they didn’t like,” according to the 2022 Randstad Workmonitor report. The survey polled 35,000 employees across 34 markets and showed dramatically changing attitudes in the workplace — potentially sparked by the pandemic — as exemplified by The Great Resignation.

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The younger generations aren’t just paying lip-service to work/life balance and personal fulfilment, either. Forty percent of Gen Z and millennial respondents said they had quit a job because it didn’t fit with their personal life, compared to 33% of those polled, overall.

The study also outlined the top five work priorities for employees, with an emphasis on what will help employers attract and retain Gen Z and millennial workers (classified as those aged 18 to 24 and 25 to 34, respectively).

  • Lifestyle and Happiness: No.1 on the list, employees seek a “fulfilling work experience,” or a company attitude that helps them fit their work around their personal life. Three-quarters of Gen Z respondents said work is important to their lives, while only 68% of older respondents said the same.
  • Aligning Values: Among all demographics, 43% of respondents said they wouldn’t join a company if the organization’s social and environmental values didn’t align with their own. Similarly, 41% said they wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Employee Empowerment: While job training and personal development are important, employees are still seeking the right monetary incentives and benefits. Within the past year, according to the survey, only 22% of employees said they received better benefits such as more time off, better healthcare, or access to more robust retirement benefits. Meanwhile, 33% said they received either a raise, training, or workplace development offerings.
  • Job Flexibility: According to the survey, nearly 75% of employees said a flexible work location is important, while 83% said flexible hours to support their lives is crucial. However, only about one-quarter of employers currently offer both remote work and flex-time.
  • Self-improvement and Professional Development: Just as employees want work to fit in with their values and their lifestyles, they also expect their workplace to complement and support their development goals. Eighty-eight percent of respondents across age groups said they would like to participate in learning and development programs if their organizations offered them. Sixty percent said they’d like workshops or education on how to earn more money. Half said they wanted tips on how to achieve a better work / life balance, and 40% wanted to learn how to advance in their career, the study showed. Only 25% of employees polled, however, said they were offered training and development opportunities in their workplace.
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The study highlights many of the gaps between what today’s workers want and what employers deliver. To combat the effects of The Great Resignation, employers need to focus on more than just competitive wages and employee benefits, but deliver what will really make a difference to today’s younger generations and up-and-coming workers.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.
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