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Are your team members among them?

A recent study by YouGov and Vestd has found that one in three employed 18-24 are actively looking for work elsewhere.

Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2015) has emerged from the study as a job-hopping and value-driven cohort with markedly different needs to those older than them.

Across the general population, only one in five is currently on the hunt for a new role. The figures are clearly much more dramatic for Gen Z but the data does give employers some strong indication as to what they can do to avoid talent migration and recruitment churn.

The most pessimistic generation

Generation Z currently make up about a quarter of the UK’s workforce but sadly, the study has revealed them to be the least positive about their immediate future.

When asked whether they felt hopeful or despondent about the year ahead, Gen Z’s average score was just 48% positive, well below the overall average of 55.5%.

What’s driving Gen Z’s sense of job insecurity?

To understand what’s driving this pessimism and the resulting need to keep one eye on the workplace door, it’s essential to understand Gen Z’s experience of working life to date.

Firstly, the pandemic has not treated all age groups equally. 

Kassandra Martinchek, writing for Urban.org, writes that since the start of the pandemic “nearly 60 percent of Gen Z adults reported they or their families experienced job-related losses, and more than a third reported they were worried their families would face difficulties paying rent, mortgages, or utility bills in the coming month.” 

This enormous figure is in stark contrast to the 25% of other age groups that have experienced similar hardships throughout the same period.

Broken promises.

The past year has acted as something as a confirmation to Gen Z that the system doesn’t work.

Even prior to the pandemic, a picture was beginning to emerge of a generation disillusioned with the traditional workplace.

Back in 2019, Justin Brady unpacked the growing evidence for a disruptive generation in his piece for QZ.com . He itemised the broken promises witnessed by the youngest working generation as they grew up. Their parents worked hard but lost significant amounts during the global recession in 2008. Their older brothers and sisters went to University, only to come back saddled with debt and dwindling employment prospects.

A positive outlook.

Brady interviewed Google’s Jaime Casap for an informed perspective on the likely outcome for all of these factors and somewhat surprisingly, found a positive perspective – that Gen Z will be the generation to “fix the broken workplace structure”.

“For years”, Brady writes, “Gen Z children have seen the companies that their parents worked for get shut down. They’ve seen that their parents were not listened to in broken company cultures.” 

He argues that younger workers are seeking a better life for themselves, and the YouGov data reflects this in spades.

What the data tells us.

When asked what they look for in their next employer, 55% reported that they’d be attracted to companies that care about their employees’ health and wellbeing. Additionally, 39% are seeking employers that live and breathe values that align with their own. No other age group saw this as such a high priority.

When pushed to choose between two jobs of equal pay, nearly 60% of 18-24 year olds would choose the company that offered the greatest flexibility and remote working options. And if pushed to choose between a high salary and company that cares about wellbeing, nearly 70% would choose wellbeing.

These figures tangibly show a line in the sand in terms of working cultures. 

Millennials have tried for years to replicate the patterns set out by Boomers, but have been demoralised by the rise of the gig economy and dizzying house prices.

Conversely, Gen Z are actively rallying against Boomer culture. They demand much more from their employers and if they don’t get it, they’ll make a swift exit.

What can we learn from the data?

From an employer’s perspective, the thing to note is that higher salaries are not the answer. Money is not the driver of Gen Z job hopping. 

The data makes it clear that Gen Z centres much of its focus on wellbeing, values and stability.

As a starting point, if a company’s management feels that it is in danger of losing relevance to younger workers, the best course of action would be to look at the company mission and values.

Does the company exist to do more than just make money? Do you have a wider vision to ‘do good’ in the world? Do you create policies that will benefit the wider environment or your supply chain? 

Beyond that, how do you demonstrate investment and commitment to the wellbeing of your employees? The research strongly shows a Gen Z preference for flexible hours and remote working, so if you can build a vibrant remote culture to accommodate that, you’ll be at a competitive advantage.

Think about other actions that you can take to demonstrate a full commitment to your employee. Can you invite guest speakers to talk to your team at regular intervals about topics such as sleep, stress management and mental health? Can you take direct action to prevent stress within your organisation by being quick to respond to emerging work pressures on teams and individuals?

Creating a sense of stability.

Employers can also buoy up Gen Z’s confidence by providing a greater sense of ‘buy-in’. By offering perks such as share or option schemes, employers can demonstrate that their employees are truly an integral part of the company, and that they are fundamental to the business’s long-game.

If employers choose to use a digital platform like Vestd, employees can check the values of their options or shares in real time, which acts as a real incentive for both the individual and the team that they are part of.

Benefits like these enable your team to understand that you are all in it together and that everybody will share in the rewards of success.

For a generation that has so far seen the least reward and the most disappointment from the workplace, such benefits could prove game changing.

Everything must go.

The greatest lesson that employers can learn from the data is that change is coming.

Ifty Nasir, founder of Vestd, says that, “team members that will tolerate poor working conditions have quickly become a thing of the past.

Gen Z are only just emerging into the workforce, but over the next decade, their presence is predicted to cause a major paradigm shift for working cultures.

By understanding the data and by reacting to it now, you can ensure that your workplace remains attractive to the most vital and energised talent the market has to offer.”