Gen Z trends – hustles, hiring and dream jobs

21 September 2022

An emotional weekend…

…a weekend full of emotion in our household, as for many across the country, as we celebrated the life and mourned the loss of Queen Elizabeth. Not being a particularly strong monarchist (I did avidly watch The Crown and can’t wait for the next series mind you!), yet, I felt compelled to queue up to pay my respects in Westminster Hall and to bake a cake in her honour. But it’s not that emotion I wanted to talk about; our weekend was also one of emotion with the start of a new academic year and one of the kids’ cousins off to Uni for the first time. The stress of deciding what to buy, what to borrow, what to take, what to leave behind (“don’t your dare touch that when I’m away”), what to wear to arrive in, where to park to unload the car, which parent should do the drop off (“Dad you aren’t coming you’re too embarrassing”) … is palpable!

And it really got me thinking as we start this new term about our fresh undergraduate cohort and their expectations of their future careers. I read with interest recently the VoxBurner Youth Trends review of the world of work published in July 2022 and thought I’d share some of the key messages we as Early Careers Leaders need to be mindful of in our comms:

# 1 – Side hustlers inspired by influencers

35% of UK 16-24s have started a business or side hustle, and another 49% are interested in doing so in the future. What is driving this stark figure?

  1. Turning their passion into a job – They aren’t willing to accept that they should have to sacrifice 40 hours a week to a monotonous job just to pay the bills, and they’re making moves early in life to set up a more fulfilling career path for themselves
  2. Being a boss is more desirable for a generation that values autonomy and individuality compared with working for a major corporation might have felt like the ultimate achievement in the past.
  3. Being inspired by influencers to follow their goal of turning their passion into a career and encouraging them to gain experience, skills and knowledge that will be invaluable whether they eventually go on to pursue an entrepreneurial life or take a more traditional career path.

Brands that recognise the value and role that influencers can play in supporting under-represented audiences in building their career capital will do well.

#2 – A backlash against “hustle culture”

Although over a third of young people claim to be side hustlers this glamorisation of “hustle culture” isn’t met by all positively. As a generation that values their mental health, Gen Z are calling out this trend and refusing to prioritise work over wellbeing. 36% say social media posts about entrepreneurship inspire them to work hard and achieve their dreams but nearly 30% say they make them feel pressured or stressed about their career.

Bruce Daisley, author of the bestselling book The Joy of Work claims “There’s a growing sense that Gen Z workers are starting to question the ‘go harder, push further’ hustle mentality that Millennial influencers traded in. In China this started as the ‘lying flat’ movement which seems to have played some part in the creation of the ‘quiet quitting’ viral movement in the UK. ‘Quiet quitting’ in essence is a pretty rational decision – if working flat out is going to get me a 3% raise and working at an easy, disengaged pace but feigning interest gets me a 3% raise then life is too short to hustle.”

This trend will be of concern to business leaders striving for high productivity and engagement from their teams, but it should serve as a wake up call that Gen Z workers expect more from their employers. They aren’t unwilling to work hard, but they will only do so if their work is fulfilling and rewarding, and if their employer values their wellbeing and quality of life.

Those employer brands who focus on what the culture will mean to future apprentices and graduates will rise to the top of the pile it seems.

#3 – #nowhiringnotonLinkedIn!

The recruitment strategies that work when hiring older candidates will not be effective in reaching the digital native generation. Businesses looking to hire the best young talent need to think of this task similar to a marketing strategy. Keeping up with digital trends and understanding how online spaces such as social media intersect with career for Gen Z will be the key to success.

And limiting your channels to LinkedIn will not help. Only 57% of 16-24 year olds have an account on the platform, and 2/3 of those who are members simply have a profile there and don’t use it either to network or find work. A broader social media strategy is essential; if your brands aren’t engaging on or with social media platforms including TikTok, Locket or BeReal then you might be missing out.

#4- Gen Z’s dream job

Their idealistic nature means they are entering the workforce with high expectations and a willingness to hold employers to account if they don’t live up to them. In a recent focus group that 106 Communications held with 8 black heritage undergraduates they spoke about the importance of salary yes, of good work life balance yes, which supports this Youth Trend report findings, but what really sealed the decision to apply or not was the company culture. Having strong cultural ambassadors who “get me and my culture” and whose actions speak louder than words is key. Its not just about showcasing the organisations’ values, but proving to this discerning audience that how people behave consistently across the business marries with their own personal values.

If you would like to know more about how we at 106 Communications can support you in better nuancing your employer brand to the expectations of Gen Z then do get in touch –

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