Two in five young people wouldn’t mind earning less money if they felt their work made a positive contribution to the world. According to new research, young people don’t have the same priorities and expectations as their elders when it comes to their professional career, and they don’t place it as centrally in their lives. So much so that many Generation Z and Millennials would rather be unemployed than work in a job they don’t like.

The Randstad employment agency asked 35,000 people from 34 countries about their view of the world of work. The researchers found that one-third of 18- to 35-year-olds are looking for a job. Despite this precarious situation, they are not willing to compromise their personal growth in order to pursue a career. In fact, 40% of Gen Zs and 38% of Millennials say they’d rather be unemployed than stuck in a job that makes them unhappy. In comparison, only 25% of Baby Boomers say they are willing to do the same.

Unlike previous generations, new entrants to the job market are particularly demanding. They are no longer satisfied with the lure of a permanent contract: They want to work in a profession that they are passionate about and that will allow them to learn constantly.

Nearly 50% of Gen Zs and Millennials would not accept a job at a company that did not align with their values on social justice and fighting global warming. An important point for a third of Baby Boomers. Just as many 18- to-35-year-olds say they wouldn’t join a company that doesn’t make proactive efforts to foster diversity and equity.

This comes as no surprise to Randstad CEO, Sander van’t Noordende. “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. Our research points to an increasing expectation from businesses to take a stand on social and environmental issues. Companies that fail to do so face an increasingly uphill battle when it comes to hiring and keeping talent,” he explains in a statement.

While the priorities of Generation Z and Millennials may surprise their elders, they largely reflect their desire to redefine the world of work even if they have to earn less to do so. Two in five young people wouldn’t mind earning less money if they felt their work made a positive contribution to the world. Companies need to realise that young people have no time to waste – they won’t hesitate to quit if they feel they are unhappy.



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