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Gen Z and Millennials Would Rather Be Unemployed Than Unhappy in a Job

  • A new Randstad study surveyed 35,000 workers across 34 markets.
  • The study showed that Gen Z and millennials were changing the power dynamic in the workplace.
  • The research found that 32% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials said they were searching for a job.

Traditionally, employers have had more power over employees in the workplace, but that dynamic has shifted.

In today’s workplace power dynamic, Gen Z and millennials have the upper hand, which forces companies to reevaluate workers’ needs, a new Workmonitor global study by Randstad said. Drawn from 35,000 workers across 34 markets, the study found that almost two in four members of younger generations would prefer being unemployed to being stuck in a job they didn’t like. Right now, they’re prioritizing happiness over their careers and want to find mission-driven work. Some 56% of Gen Z and 55% of millennials said they would leave their job if it interfered with their personal lives, and almost half of them said they wouldn’t accept a job at a company that didn’t align with their views on social and environmental issues.

These findings explain why employers are struggling to find younger talent to fill open roles, giving more power to job seekers. “Our findings should serve as a wake-up call for employers. There’s a clear power shift underway as people rethink priorities,” Sander van ‘t Noordende, the global CEO of Randstad, said in a statement.

Keeping options open

The survey found that 70% of all employees were open to new job opportunities — out of this, 32% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials reported that they were job searching. The data showed their confidence in being able to find other positions, with 49% saying they thought they would be able to find a new job quickly if they were fired or quit.

“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,” Noordende said. This trend shows how employers are facing greater pressure to meet workers’ demands or risk losing them to other jobs.

Companies are on the short end of the stick

Since younger generations now have the upper hand in the job market, it’s up to employers to reassess how to draw in talent. “Businesses need to rethink their approach to attracting and retaining staff, or face serious competition,” Noordende said.

One way is to offer better benefits packages that include flexible work, healthcare, and professional development. The survey showed that 22% of employees received an increase in benefits, including healthcare and pensions, and 25% received more professional training. Meanwhile, 71% said the ability to work from anywhere was important to them, but 53% felt that they didn’t have that flexibility in their current roles. This shows how most employees — who were forced to work from home because of the pandemic — want to continue doing so as the world navigates what post-pandemic normal looks like. But in some cases, their wishes for continued flexibility are being ignored since more companies are encouraging workers to return to the office.

The study also showed that most young people wanted to work at companies that shared their personal values. This affected the kinds of jobs they applied for, especially since two in five Gen Zers and millennials in the survey said they wouldn’t mind earning a lower salary if it meant they were purposefully contributing to society.

Diversity and inclusion were also top of mind for the younger generation: 49% of Gen Z and 46% of millennials said they didn’t want to work for a company that wasn’t making a concentrated effort in this area. The report calls into question how employers will deal with this new shift in the power dynamic, but one thing is clear: Younger generations aren’t afraid to keep their options open and leave a job if their needs aren’t being met.

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