Featured News Gen Z look for job security

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Thu, 1 Feb 2024

Gen Z look for job security

Gen Z

A new study of Generation Z workers has found they have lower expectations of promotion and a greater need for employment security than millennials.

James Cook University’s Professor of Organisational Behaviour Eddy Ng was co-author of a study that interviewed nearly 40,000 people who were either Generation Y Millennials (born between 1982 and 1994) and Generation Z (born between 1995 and about 2012).

Professor Ng said the theory is that generational differences arise when shifts in culture or landmark events alter the developmental pathway of a generation so their formative influences become different than those of the preceding generation.

“Millennials learned to navigate the Internet while they were young, but Gen Z have never lived in a world without the Internet, the ubiquity of social media and the omnipresence of smart phones.

“Gen Z are pragmatic and realistic, much like their Gen X parents, they came of age during the Global Financial Crisis and they have a keen awareness of broad social issues,” said Professor Ng.

He said in contrast, the Millennial generation is often portrayed as idealistic, with an optimistic view of the world and commonly described as self-centred and entitled.

The researchers compared the results from their research with more than 23,000 millennials in 2007 to a survey with more than 16,000 Gen Z people in 2019. This enabled the research team to assess the period effect for two generations at roughly the same point in their lives.

“We wanted to find out if expectations for their work life had changed over the past decade,” said Professor Ng.

He said overall, the new generation could be called cautious and pragmatic.

“While the commitment to social justice remains, the results of this study suggest a shift away from opportunity towards security and stability. They are looking for an employer that reflects their own values and a job that is satisfying in the present.

“Today’s youth seem to have realistic expectations for their first jobs, but the analyses also suggest that young people continue to seek positive, healthy work environments which make room for work–life balance,” said Professor Ng.

He said the interviews had been performed in Canada, but applied just as well to Australia, given the similar demographic patterns and influences on culture.

“Understanding the career expectations of young people allows educators, employers and policymakers to provide vocational guidance that aligns those expectations with the realities of the labour market and the contemporary career context,” said Professor Ng.


Professor Eddy Ng
E: eddy.ng@jcu.edu.au