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Generation Z’s career aspirations: beliefs and paradoxes

The health crisis that occurred in 2019 turned the world upside down, especially the world of work. Indeed, for 2 months, almost all sectors of activity were at a standstill, allowing the emergence of new questions and new practices.

We have based the study below on a survey of 132 respondents aged 18 to 25.

When flexibility is the keyword

A versatile job to suit their schedules is what today’s young generation wants. The novelty of telecommuting, a recent and widespread organization of activity following the pandemic, allows for the kind of work/life balance that this generation aspires to. Indeed, 42% hope to combine their passion, their social and emotional life with their work. Moreover, more than half of the respondents believe that teleworking should be continued, allowing them an organizational flexibility that is considered very important or even essential in 86% of cases.

The young people interviewed may not want to work fixed hours, but they are aware of the professional requirements that will be expected of them. When asked about the “Feierabend” in Germany (not answering a work call after 5 p.m.), 52% are in favor if the circumstances are right and 12% find the concept ridiculous.

However, a paradox seems to emerge even though generation Z seems to want to favor partial teleworking, the work atmosphere in their future company, generally observable in the office, is “the most important” for 46% of the respondents. Can we then consider that the work atmosphere tends to be appreciated differently by this generation? Could the fluidity of exchanges and the relational quality necessary for the good progress of telework constitute a different apprehension of the social climate in companies?

A job at the service of commitments

If the covid crisis has put into question the career plans of 22% of the respondents, they don’t seem to have taken fright about the security that their future jobs could give them. Indeed, less than a tenth say that this element would be their priority.

Also, the commitments of Generation Z are similar to pre-pandemic demands: inclusion, equity, and ecology appear as top priorities for 88% of respondents. This was indeed already the case in a 2016 Wizbii blog finding. In the same sense, the horizontal internal organization of the company is preferred by 60%.

Also, the respondents aspire to a meaningful job that they would do within a committed structure. The associative aspect would be essential for 40%. Remuneration seems to be relegated (17%) in favor of career prospects.

An ecological paradox: When will companies do well enough?

Climate change is at the heart of the concerns of the youngest generations: the 18/24 age group is the one that voted the most for the ecological candidate Yannick Jadot in the first round of the 2022 presidential elections. Indeed, it is 6.6% of them against only 3.8% for the 25-34 years. However, only 21% believe that the ethics of their future company is the “most” important.

Moreover, 74% would be strongly interested in working internationally. Is this again a slight paradox? Does this generation aspire to collaborate remotely or to travel physically through the different countries of their company? As air travel is particularly polluting, the question may arise as to the concordance of their ecological ambitions and their career plans.

When asked about ecology within companies and the practice of greenwashing, only 1.5% of respondents believe that greenwashing does not exist and that companies can make a real commitment to the planet. On the other hand, nearly three quarters of them say that it is only a marketing tool and do not see any real progress.

However, constrained by CSR policies and recent laws (notably Emmanuel Macron’s Climate and Resilience Law in 2021) and implementing telecommuting or Flex Office that are fundamentally less polluting, companies are not convincing: 71% of 18–24-year-olds believe that they are only committed to the environment for their image. The legal advances that can be observed do not seem to meet their expectations. Indeed, it could be that the generations come up against the subject of ecology with a different sensitivity linked to their life experiences. The priorities (economic crisis, climate, purchasing power, etc.) do not seem to be the same for everyone. Is this dissatisfaction the result of a shift in values or does it characterize a youth that is too greedy?

So, is Generation Z asking for too much? Between personal commitment and professional priority, are they ready to match their ambitions with their convictions? What avenues can be exploited to terminate their objectives?

HR Path is committed to listening to the new generations and wants to evolve its services for the human resources of tomorrow. Join us now!

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