Job Survey: Why Gen Z Workers Seek New Opportunities and Top 3 Ways Employers Can Retain Them

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A majority of Gen Z job seekers have either switched industries or are considering doing so, according to a new LinkedIn Workforce Confidence survey. That restlessness is matched only by the next youngest generation — millennials — according to the survey.

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Indeed, 65% of Gen Z job seekers have either switched industries or are considering the possibility, the survey states. This finding comes against the backdrop of the record 4.4 million Americans quitting their jobs in September, with the biggest increase coming from the arts, entertainment and recreation industries, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report that came out on Nov. 12.

So what makes Gen Zers so antsy?

Three of the top four reasons involve some version of “what’s in it for me?,” according to the survey.

Earning more (72%) and moving up in the organization (59%) are two of the most commonly cited factors for Gen Z, as the search for advancement may be especially urgent for younger generations now — given the big mismatches between job openings and under-utilized talent.

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Values matter for Gen Z, as well, with 69% citing that another reason for switching industries is that they are looking for those that “better aligns with my interest or values.”

Big employers are listening, too, according to the survey. Companies such as Procter & Gamble and Ford Motor are adjusting their recruiting strategies to be more in step with Gen Z’s habits and priorities.

Jeanniey Walden, workplace expert and CMO of DailyPay, told GOBankingRates that job quality aside, Gen Z is the most purpose driven generation in the workforce today.

“They seek employers who create a culture filled with passion and purpose in why they exist. If a company doesn’t have a clear ESG backed mission, they are at risk for losing the interest of this powerful workforce,” she said.

Other top reasons include better benefits (52%) and better or more flexible hours (41%).

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By comparison, millennials say that their top reasons are better compensation (67%) and “better aligns with my interest or values” (59%). Rates are noticeably lower for baby boomers, ages 57-75, and Gen X, 41 to 56, the survey notes.

On the other hand, 35% of Gen Z job seekers are determined to stick with their current industries. The top three factors that keep them loyal are: enjoying the nature of the work I do (86%), building more expertise in my industry (80%) and continuing to apply, hone or grow the skills I have (70%), according to the survey.

Walden added that the reason Gen Z stays at their jobs can be summarized in one word — purpose. She explained that a large percentage of Gen Z graduated during the pandemic, resulting in many first-year graduates unable to find a quality entry-level job.

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“They took the jobs they needed to survive and now are trading up for quality. Gen Z candidates are looking to transition to companies that are closely in line with what they’re most passionate about and those that provide opportunities that will open doors in the future and support long-term growth,” she said.

The survey also finds that 63% of Gen Z respondents in this group (job seekers who aren’t switching industries) say that they are staying the course because of the opportunity to form and strengthen relationships in their current industry. That factor doesn’t register nearly as much with older generations — but that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Ashley Paterson, founder and CEO of Healthy Hippo, told GOBankingRates that this survey is showing companies that their employees are having higher standards for their behavior, which is a more micro-view on corporate social responsibility.

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“I’m sure a lot of this flexibility has to do with the equalizing power of the internet, and Gen Z being comfortable with going digital with learning new skills and careers, or reaching new job markets — but what we’ve found really applies for us is how the passion of Gen Z’s who love the job and the company can really transform the team,” she added.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a former full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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