The new Aussie battlers have a tough road ahead


Deloitte recently surveyed 14,808 Gen Z and 8,412 millennials in 46 countries for the Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey. Contrasts in their comments paint a picture of a generation struggling to find a middle ground between their ambition to improve the world and the realities of their daily life. Realities that will test not only their resilience and resourcefulness but also challenge businesses to take a fresh look at often much-maligned segments of our population.

In this blog post, we’ll share some of the striking insights we learned from their survey and the value this can add to your business and HR strategy.

Striving to balance their personal lives with their desire to make a difference

More than ever, millennials and Gen Zers are striving to make ecologically friendly investments despite their financial struggles. Many are taking on second jobs and fighting for more purposeful and flexible work. In particular, they demand that their employers take action to combat climate change, yet businesses may be missing out on possibilities to take a broader and deeper approach.

The vast majority of Gen Z and Millennials (90 percent) are making at least some effort to reduce their own environmental impact. Many people are willing to pay more to make more environmentally friendly choices.

  • 64% of Gen Z would pay more for an environmentally sustainable product, versus 36% who would choose a cheaper, less sustainable product. They want businesses, including their own, to do more.
  • Only 18% of Gen Z and 16% of Millennials believe their employers are strongly committed to combating climate change. Employers should prioritise visible climate actions that allow employees to participate directly, such as banning single-use plastics and providing training to help people make better environmental decisions, according to Generation Z and Millennials.

What Organisations Can Do

Enable people to lead change

Millennials and Gen Z desire to transform the world. The Great Resignation has made this more urgent. Gen Z and Millennials want long-awaited workplace reforms, and if they don't come, many may leave. Beyond higher pay, work/life balance, learning and development, and flexibility, they desire meaningful employment and to work for businesses with a significant social impact. Leaders who listen to their employees and enable them to drive change will attract and retain talent. Reverse mentorship, upskilling, and stretch projects are just a few areas to focus on to help people grow and explore their potential.

Doomed from day one

Financial concerns are a cloud on many careers just as they start to take shape with many people worrying that they won't be able to retire comfortably when they're old enough.

The cost of living (such as housing, transportation, bills, etc.) was cited as the most important concern by Generation Z (29%) and Millennials (36%).

  • Almost half of Gen Z (46%) and Millennials (47%) live paycheck to paycheck and are concerned about not being able to cover their expenses.
  • More than a quarter of Gen Z (26%) and Millennials (31%), respectively, are unsure they will be able to retire comfortably.
  • 43% of Gen Z and 33% of Millennials have a second part- or full-time paying job. A small but growing number of people are also relocating to less expensive cities with remote jobs.

In the midst of this financial uncertainty, many Gen Zers and Millennials are redefining their work schedules.

What Organisations Can Do

Millennials and members of Gen Z stand to benefit greatly from today's unprecedented level of employee churn. According to the results of this year's survey, employers will be better able to attract and retain top talent if they implement the workplace changes their workers have been demanding, such as increased pay, greater flexibility, improved work-life balance, better learning and development opportunities, improved mental health and wellness support, and a greater commitment from businesses to making a positive social impact.

The younger generations in the workforce are looking for a more balanced and long-term approach to change in the wake of COVID-19 in the past few years.

They are rethinking their priorities and demanding more from corporate leaders in these unpredictable times. This immediate action is necessary for businesses to attract and retain the best employees, and it must be taken now.

One of the most effective ways for firms to combat wealth disparity is to focus on helping their own employees. Organisations can tailor benefits and compensation to their workforce's goals by listening more attentively to their needs and worries. Whilst having a competitive salary and benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, and retirement savings are key considerations, there is more that organisations can do. For example, they may provide financial education and resources, knowing that finances are a major source of stress for young people.

Gen Z and Millennials are sick of being resilient; they want help and genuine change

There is a constant sense of anxiety and worry in Gen Zers' daily lives. Nearly half of those polled said they were constantly or frequently stressed. However, Millennials' levels of stress have decreased marginally compared to previous years.

With both generations experiencing significant levels of burnout, this presents employers with a difficult challenge:

  • 46% of Gen Zs and 45% of Millennials report feeling exhausted at work.
  • 44% of Gen Z and 43% of Millennials have lately left their company because of task pressure, according to the survey.

What Organisations Can Do

Mental health and well-being in the workplace are becoming more of a priority for employers.
More than half of those polled say that their employers have shown a greater interest in their well-being and mental health since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, what is clear from Jennifer Moss’s work and her excellent book The Burnout Epidemic is that having a list of benefits is not the answer. We need to look at a systemic change in our businesses that can reset the paradigm. It’s on us to create healthy organisations that provide a climate in which every individual can thrive.

“We tend to think of burnout as a problem we can solve with self-care: more yoga, better breathing techniques, and more resilience. But evidence is mounting that applying personal, Band-Aid solutions to an epic and rapidly evolving workplace phenomenon isn't enough—in fact, it's not even close. If we're going to solve this problem, organizations must take the lead in developing an anti-burnout strategy that moves beyond apps, wellness programs, and perks.”

- Jennifer Moss

Improve Workplace Mental Health

Global risks continue to affect Gen Z and Millennials' daily lives and long-term worldviews, causing stress and worry. Business leaders must encourage mental health at work and reduce stress and burnout. Better mental health services are a key first step, from supportive leaders to company-sponsored counseling or treatment. Business leaders must make a persistent and loud commitment to building stigma-free work environments that value well-being, where workers may speak up about their needs without fear of judgement.

Trust needed for employees to open up and seek assistance rests on managers' everyday actions and accessibility, therefore company leaders must create empathic leadership abilities and help managers notice and deal with mental health concerns. Organisations should consider employees' well-being holistically. Disruption will continue, therefore employers must work to reduce stress and anxiety and address their core causes.

Only then might we start to create workplaces that feel good for everybody.

Curious about how you can connect better with Gen Zers and Millennials? Get in touch today and subscribe for more insights.

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Ian Foulds
Ian Foulds

As The Zoo Republic's Strategy Director, Ian is often found surrounded by post-it notes, research findings, and reports looking for the connections that help us understand what makes people tick. Ian uses his own innovative interpretation of Behavioural Economics principles to help businesses identify what is holding consumers back, and to discover the levers we can pull to inspire behavioural change.