Spoiler alert: All three generations agree on the biggest workplace stressor, but not on the best place to get stuff done.
The modern workplace is undergoing a profound transformation, shaped in no small part by the diverse mix of generations in the workforce. With each generation bringing a unique perspective as well as different values and work habits to the workplace, it’s imperative to explore and embrace these distinctions. By acknowledging the strengths and challenges of each generation, we can work toward succeeding together.
To better understand the different attitudes and experiences of the generations in the workforce, FlexJobs surveyed more than 7,000 Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X professionals. The survey ran from August 2, 2023, to August 17, 2023. Read the results in FlexJobs’s Generations at Work Report below.
GENERATIONAL JOB MARKET OUTLOOK
Across the generations, the outlook on the job market and career prospects varies greatly. Gen Z is more optimistic about the job market, the ability to find remote work, and their overall career prospects. Millennials and Gen Xers, on the other hand, are less optimistic about all three. However, of all the generations, Gen Z is the least likely to make a career move in the next year.
1. Career optimism
Feeling good about your career outlook can have an incredible impact on your perseverance, engagement, and productivity in the workplace. The survey asked respondents whether they feel more optimistic about their career prospects today than they did during the same time last year, and the results were quite divided.
Gen Z feels the most optimistic, with 73% stating they have a more positive outlook this year than last. However, millennials (43%) and Gen Xers (31%) aren’t feeling as optimistic about the future.
2. Job market trends
Over the past year, the job market has started to cool a bit, and professionals are starting to feel the pinch.
When asked if they feel better today about the job market than they did last year, 66% of Gen Z thinks the job market is better. However, only 34% of millennials and 28% of Gen Xers share this positive sentiment.
Then, when exploring if respondents feel worse about the job market today compared to last year, over half of millennials (53%) and Gen X (55%) said the job market is worse. Yet, less than one-third (29%) of Gen Z workers think the job market is worse today compared to this time last year.
3. Remote job accessibility
Remote work peaked in 2020, with its popularity remaining a leading benefit professionals look for. When asking survey participants if they thought it was harder or easier to get a remote job now vs the same time last year, Gen Z maintained their positive attitude, with 54% stating it is easier. Yet, millennials and Gen Xers thought it was harder, with only 24% of millennials and 16% of Gen Xers saying finding remote work is easier now than a year ago.
4. Desire to change jobs
Digging deeper into job market outlooks, the survey asked professionals if they were planning to change jobs within the next 12 months. While Gen Z has touted the positive job market, only 32% plan to change jobs within the year. Yet, while millennials and Gen Xers have a more negative outlook on the job market, both generations plan to change jobs, with 61% of millennials and 57% of Gen Xers stating they’ll do so in the next 12 months.
In regards to the most important factors in a job, the three generations agreed that salary, remote work, work-life boundaries, and having a flexible schedule are the top four, but the order of the rankings varied. Gen Z said that having a flexible schedule (42%) was the most important factor to them in a job, edging out salary (41%).
GENERATIONAL IDEAL WORK ENVIRONMENT
There’s a stark difference between how the different generations are working. Currently, only 11% of Gen Z are working remotely full-time, compared to 27% of millennials and 42% of Gen X. Yet, despite their current work arrangements, 40% of Gen Z, 56% of millennials, and 75% of Gen X said remote work was important to them.
The survey also shows that all generations’ productivity levels benefit greatly from working remotely. While Gen Z doesn’t place as much emphasis on remote work as other generations (and prefers hybrid work), 80% of Gen Z said they are more productive working remotely compared to working in the office. This is similar to millennials (76%) and Gen X (80%).
For a more in-depth breakdown of how each generation prefers to work (remotely, hybrid, or in the office), check out the findings below.
Ideal for Gen Z: Hybrid work
- Hybrid, mostly in-office, with occasional remote work time: 43%
- Remote only, completely working from home: 22%
- Hybrid, mostly remote, with occasional in-office work: 16%
- Hybrid, remote with two to three days in the office: 14%
- In the office full-time, not working remotely at all: 5%
Ideal for millennials: Remote or hybrid
- Remote only, completely working from home: 45%
- Hybrid, mostly remote, with occasional in-office work: 24%
- Hybrid, remote with two to three days in the office: 17%
- Hybrid, mostly in-office, with occasional remote work time: 11%
- In the office full-time, not working remotely at all: 3%
Ideal for Gen X: Remote only
- Remote only, completely working from home: 62%
- Hybrid, mostly remote, with occasional in-office work: 20%
- Hybrid, remote with two to three days in the office: 12%
- Hybrid, mostly in-office, with occasional remote work time: 4%
- In the office full-time, not working remotely at all: 2%
GENERATIONAL WORKPLACE STRESSORS
Workplace stressors are fairly common for most professionals. While stress may be universal, how it impacts each generation varies. However, there were common themes among all generations. Gen Z, millennials, and Gen Xers together rated the top three stressors as excessive workloads (85%), unrealistic expectations from boss (79%), and ambiguity around job roles and expectations (77%).
For a more in-depth breakdown of the most common workplace stressors by generation, check out the findings below.
Gen Z workplace stressors
- Unrealistic expectations from boss: 26%
- Lack of knowledge to complete tasks: 23%
- Excessive workload: 23%
- Ambiguity around job role and expectations: 22%
- Lack of direction to complete tasks: 21%
- Job security: 20%
Millennial workplace stressors
- Excessive workload: 31%
- Unrealistic expectations from boss: 31%
- Ambiguity around job role and expectations: 27%
- Lack of direction to complete tasks: 26%
- Lack of knowledge to complete tasks: 25%
- Work-life boundaries: 21%
Gen X workplace stressors
- Excessive workload: 31%
- Ambiguity around job role and expectations: 28%
- Work-life boundaries: 25%
- Job security: 22%
- Unrealistic expectations from boss: 22%
- Lack of time: 21%
GENERATIONAL WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Neglecting a healthy work-life balance can lead to a host of issues both personally and professionally. Across the board, more than half of each generation is feeling the pull of work during their personal time. When it comes to their personal identity, 88% of Gen Z said they think too much of their personal identity is tied to their job, while 68% of millennials and 52% of Gen X said the same.
Some of this could be due to habits each generation has created, particularly around setting and holding work-life boundaries. For instance, 90% of Gen Z, 74% of millennials, and 65% of Gen Xers said they typically check email, Slack, or other work communications after they have signed off for the day. Then, when asked about checking work communications during the weekend, 88% of Gen Z, 68% of millennials, and 58% of Gen X check in.
Guest Author: Jessica Howington is senior content manager at FlexJobs.
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