Exits interviews have been at an all-time high for a particular group of employees over the last year. Gen z’s are voluntarily leaving the workspace, a worrying trend because they just joined and a large group is still joining the labour market. Generation Z’s are those individuals born between 1996 and 2010. They make for 20% of the current workforce, a number expected to increase significantly. This new labour market entrance group possesses unique characteristics such as unmatched confidence, a high appetite for risk, tech-savvy, value for work-life balance, and a unique workplace expectation that is primarily value-driven. Factors like brand reputation and salary rank low while deciding on a job. If given a choice between a well-paying and less fulfilling career and a low-paying and exciting job, Gen z will always go for the latter.
Gen Zs are often drawn to workplaces with a culture of flexibility, embrace change, and have a low tolerance to authoritarian environments. They are interested in careers such as healthcare, business, technology, and arts to achieve more value there. They are many and bound to revolutionize the workplace and various industries; therefore, their choice to leave the modern workspace is a worrying trend. What could be the reason behind this great resignation phenomenon?
They prioritize meaningful social change.
Gen z strongly prioritizes passion and purpose over any other labour market factor. Jacquie, 25, had a well-paying job at a well-known advertising agency. She studied marketing, which she saw herself doing throughout her career. Jacquie is also a good cook and loves to host family and friends. However, after a year and a half stay at the agency, she left to pursue her genuine interest in catering mid last year. She says that the agency life took a toll on her. Her expectations on the media buying role were high, and this job did not meet them. The burnouts, anxiety, lack of work-life balance, and stress of demanding clients were too much. The joy that initially came with the job had long faded away, and she did not want to do it anymore.
“Starting a catering business has not been easy, especially in the current economy where food prices are increasing daily, but I find fulfillment when I see people enjoy a meal I made. I truly believe my purpose on earth is to make people happy through food,” she says. She hopes to turn this cooking passion into a profitable venture as she is yet to break even. Gen Z is a purpose-led generation, and any role that is not passion-linked or lacks social impact is not for them.
2. They long for control and respect.
Gen z is an independent lot and likes to control their work and career. They are self-learners and tend to enjoy autonomy. When given support roles typical for entry-level jobs, They tend to feel a lack of control. If they happen to stay in support roles for long, they are likely to quit as they don’t feel growth, a key component in controlling their career trajectory. It is important to note that this generation grew up with the internet, which opened their world to a vast pool of knowledge.
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Lack of control in other workplace factors such as work-life balance, working conditions, work culture, processes, etc., is quite a demotivator. This coupled with another unpleasant issue of ageism at the workplace, makes it challenging for Gen Z to continue being in such workspaces. It adds to the already growing frustration. The perceived lack of experience makes the older generation not take them seriously. The entrance of the newest cohort also signals a threat to the older generations who might be out to frustrate them. The result is Gen Zs, who does not beg for a seat at the table, end up making their own chairs and joining the table unapologetically. As admirable as this trait is, in the real world, it rubs the ‘big boys’-otherwise known as Gen X and Y- the wrong way, creating a generational conflict that is also another demotivator.
3. Value for in-person relations
Gen Zs grew up with the internet and smartphones but ironically, they value face-to-face communication. They like to communicate via text, chats, social media, and apps, but they also focus on creating authentic relationships, mainly through in-person relations. Gen Z’s emphasis on the effectiveness of communication over convenience and working remotely, especially during the pandemic, has affected the effectiveness bit. They value two-way communication, instant feedback and like to get to the point faster with managers and colleagues, and digital devices either delay or interfere with this. The delay shows a lack of timely support to execute a job which makes them lose focus given that they have a shorter attention span than their counterparts. Frustrations start to kick in at this level, making a good number to quit.
Communication medium in most cases dictates Gen Zs preferred work style, a hybrid of the remote and physical workspace coupled with flexible hours provides an ideal working environment. They want regular check-ins with the managers to give and receive feedback. They also want to connect with colleagues both socially and professionally.
Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future” -John F. Kennedy
4. Prefer Gig works over a 9-5
Gen Zs are choosing to focus on Gig works. They believe gig is always greener and have embraced the gig economy due to the stable yet flexible job options. The ability to take on more than one job and choose when to slow is down to achieve the much sort after work-life balance makes gig work so desirable to Gen Z’s. While millennials are the largest pool of Gig workers, gen Zs are quickly gaining ground and will soon outnumber Millennials.
Gen Z’s is a lot that believes in themselves and in the power of what they bring to the workplace. They believe in their ideas, skills, uniqueness, and they are looking for opportunities to make a difference. Only forward-looking organizations will keep Gen z and benefit from their immense knowledge and skills bank. Chances are GenZs will create their code of conduct but instead of shunning them, how about adapting their conducts to strengthen the already existing cultures. We should give them a reason to stay by providing mentorship, feedback, and guidance. Leaving room for pushback on employees’ decisions is another way to keep them in the workplace. In addition, finding common ground to address all employees’ needs will go a long way in retaining them. Realigning companies to work with Gen Z is an investment that will yield positive results.