As Young Workers Consider the Future, They Don’t Expect Traditional Careers
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a time of reflection that led many to reset how they live and work. Last year, our Beyond 2020 study revealed that the pandemic inspired one-fifth of people aged 16 to 24 globally to change the direction of their career and 6 in 10 to review how they spend money.
In 2021, are young people making these changes? Here are some work-related trends that we’ve noticed:
Many are considering (or have already made) a career pivot, with more emphasis on paycheck than passion. The pandemic has sparked a “Great Resignation” of workers leaving their jobs as economies have reopened. A Microsoft study released in March found that 41% of the global workforce said they were likely to leave their job in the next year. Among Gen Z specifically, 60% said they were merely surviving or flat-out struggling. Many reported difficulties feeling engaged at work, getting a word in during meetings, and contributing new ideas.
While in recent years young workers have wanted jobs that reflected their passions, their bottom line has become a growing concern. A YPulse study released in May found that while 78% of Millennials in the US believe that it’s important to have a job they enjoy, that percentage had fallen 10 points since 2019. Money has risen in importance dramatically, with 70% of Millennials agreeing that their job is just a way to earn money – a 20 percentage point increase from 2019. And while most Gen Z respondents believe that it’s important to enjoy their job (78%), good benefits (68%) and high pay (66%) ranked second and third.
With more young workers seeing their jobs as a source of income more than a place of self-expression, they are using more of their time outside of work for hobbies. The percentage of American Gen Z and Millennials saying they do as little as possible in their free time fell from 54% in 2019 to 39% in 2021, according to an April YPulse report. While gaming remains a top activity, over the last year young people’s behavior has shifted away slightly from other screen behaviors in favor of IRL pastimes like arts and crafts.
Remote work has opened up new travel possibilities. In our Beyond 2020 study last year, we asked people 16 to 24 to predict what their working lives would be like in 10 years. Eighty percent said they believed that remote and flexible working would be the norm, 62% thought they would be traveling to different places around the world for work, and almost half did not expect to be working in an office building. A recent survey by Citrix Systems found that 90% of digital natives do not want to return to the office full time.
For young remote workers, the lines between personal and professional lives have become blurry. But this isn’t always a bad thing. An emerging generation of digital nomads — individuals who combine constant global travel with work — are paving the way for a new era of travel.
Employers offering flexibility, choice, and autonomy will win. While many young people want to work a five-day week, 17% believe they should have the opportunity to work four days if they choose, according to the Citrix study. More than 1 in 4 would like to be able to decide when to start and end their workday, and 7% want to work unstructured or output-based hours. When asked what aspects of company culture are most important, their #1 choice was having an employer who trusts them.