Why younger generations are reassessing their careers…and why that’s here to stay

Gen Z, career,

I recently heard an influential speaker say that businesses shouldn’t be worried about the Great Resignation – i.e., the movement sparked and led by younger gens (millennials and Gen Z) – but instead, businesses should be worried about an “application crisis”: the shortage of applications for positions.

Given the challenges businesses are facing today around recruitment and retention, I have to say I agree.

Younger gens have been progressively reassessing their wants and needs when it comes to work-life integration. Whether or not COVID sparked the deep and meaningful reflection or quite simply, younger gens are tired of “traditional” ways of working in the current world, one thing is for certain: it’s not going to go away.

To understand the why, we need to look at the underlying reasons for this – and the below three reasons are a start.

Values

While the effect of values within generational cohorts remains in some parts, slightly contentious, we don’t have to look far to see how the values of younger gens are driving choices and behaviour. Values like diversity, inclusion, social equity and social responsibility are fast becoming a north start for choices related to anything from workplaces to consumerism, or from food choices to brand loyalty.

In fact, global CEO of Randstad Sander van ‘t Noordende recently stated off the back of a study that, “Young people want to bring their whole selves to work, which is reflected in their determination not to compromise their personal values when choosing an employer.”

This means that businesses need to rethink approaches to attracting and retaining talent, or they’ll lose out to competition.

Young gens are no longer willing to compromise on their values.

Accountability

We live in a world where holding people accountable isn’t done well. From sports to politics, to world leaders, we constantly see exceptions being made or the bending of rules occurring. But when it comes to the workplace – an area where younger gens have power and influence – absence of accountability doesn’t cut it. Things like poor leadership, unkept ‘promises’ by managers, toxic culture, inability to call out bad behaviour and inequality, are all red rags for younger gens.

Young gens are no longer willing to see or let things ‘slide’, instead, they are standing up and demanding accountability.

Technology and social media

Accessibility of information is at an all-time high. Which means access to options is becoming limitless and younger gens are no longer feeling the need to be pressed into something they may not want to do. Instead, finding things that once upon an era ago, weren’t available at the tips of one’s fingers. Social media platforms have also opened a whole new world of possibility – not just with the ability to make money of these platforms, but the examples set by countless people around the world, on other options of how to live life. The transparency that technology also affords means there’s more competition as young gens weigh up their options.

Young gens are no longer willing to settle for outdated “standard” models of working, instead, they want fulfilling lives and to find that, are willing to create that by design.

Reassessing jobs and careers will remain for younger gens as they recalibrate, continue to ask intentional questions, and take responsibility for their lives. It’s up to workplaces to listen, adapt and open their arms to positive change – because the change that can be made with these gens and the future of workplaces, is huge.