Professional satisfaction, values top Gen Z’s concerns: EY report

Accounting

Members of Gen Z have a long list of concerns as they enter the working world, ranging from personal issues to the world at large, according to a new report from Big Four firm Ernst & Young.

The report, the second annual “Gen Z Segmentation Study,” utilized feedback from 1,509 members of Gen Z across the United States. (Members of Gen Z include those born from Jan. 1, 1997, through Dec. 31, 2007.)

Chief among Gen Z’s concerns as they enter the working world is a shared sense of purpose and community in their professional lives. Most respondents (69%) said they prioritize enjoying their work. About two-thirds (63%) of those polled also consider it “very or extremely important” to work for an employer who shares their values. Others (40%) prioritize being the best at what they do or making a difference in the world (39%), rather than making a lot of money over the course of their career (32%).

“The world is changing faster than ever, and this digitally native and globally conscious generation … is prepared to adapt to the rapidly transforming environment,” said Lizzie McWilliams, EY US public relations associate director, in a statement. “Businesses should prioritize understanding Gen Z to maintain engagement with future employees and customers — developing a strong ‘Plan Z.'”

Gen Z was also found to be skeptical: More than half (60%) of those polled said most people can’t be trusted, with 48% saying that people are only looking out for themselves most of the time. Another 57% feel that life will be the same or worse for future generations.

That isn’t to say Gen Z doesn’t strive for change, though: 55% of those polled said they are very or extremely interested in environmental issues (up from 40% in 2019), with 81% saying that climate change is a problem for the U.S. Gen Z is also confident that significant progress will be made regarding LGBTQ+ rights (85%), gender inequality (79%) and economic equality (68%).

“Youth have historically been the drivers of cultural change, whether it’s fashion, music, the adoption of new technology or business,” said Marcie Merriman, EY Americas cultural insights and customer strategy leader. “Social and cultural change is often determined through how they spend their money, where they decide to work and the opinions they voice. Businesses seeking to understand which changes are fleeting trends and which will become cultural norms need to look no further than Gen Z. The research shows us that concerns related to mental health, climate change and social justice will remain top of mind for this outspoken group, and companies looking to attract this dynamic generation will need to find a way to share [their] voice on these critical issues.”

Other notable findings from the report include:

  • 67% of Gen Z respondents are moderately to extremely worried about their physical and mental health, with 42% frequently feeling anxious or depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • During the pandemic, some 19% of respondents said they rarely or never received social and emotional support they needed;
  • 45% say they are very or extremely likely to start their own business one day;
  • Since the pandemic began, 44% of respondents say they are more interested in starting a business);
  • 48% feel that getting married someday is very or extremely important; and
  • Less than half (48%) feel having children someday is very or extremely important, with the median age they would like to have children being 30.

For the full report, head to EY’s site here.

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