Therapists on speed dial and plenty of time to work on a side-hustle — the next generation has a very different way of doing business. Vive la (office) revolution, says Kate Wills.
Kadisha Kaur-Singh, 22, from Enfield, has had five jobs since she graduated last June. “My older friends are just working to get money, but my goal is to be extra passionate about what I do,” she says. “I like working and having my own income, but I also want free time to dabble and experiment. I don’t want to just work to live or whatever the saying is. That concept is outdated.”
After stints in various customer service and copywriting roles, next week Kaur-Singh starts a new job at TikTok. On her Insta bio, she calls herself a “Digital Creator”. “My number one priority when taking a job is whether the company aligns with my ethics and vision,” she says. “Then it’s salary and then it’s progression — I don’t want to be stuck in the same job forever.”
Kaur-Singh is pretty typical of Gen Z job hunters — those born between 1997 and 2012 — who are looking for something different from the world of work than even their slightly-older Millennial colleagues. “Gen Z don’t want to settle for so-so jobs where they are underpaid, under-appreciated and overworked,” says Samantha Hornsby, CEO of ERIC, an app which helps young people find jobs in the creative industries.
From the anti-work memes going viral on TikTok right now, you would be forgiven for thinking that the youngest generation to enter the workforce aren’t interested in climbing the career ladder at all. “There’s a misconception that this age group is spoiled or lazy, but actually they’re incredibly hard working, just with different goals,” says Hornsby.
“They’re not afraid to quit jobs that aren’t right for them, often publicly, on social media, and they will name and shame employers who aren’t getting it right.”
The 12.6 million Gen Z-ers in the UK right now might well enter an industry which their parents won’t have even heard of. Research from Talking Futures has found that more than two-thirds of parents of 11 to 18-year-olds in England feel overwhelmed as their children express interest in careers they know nothing about.
“It’s a candidates’ market right now and junior positions are proving hardest to fill,” says Tray Durrant from Soho-based recruitment firm Bain and Gray. “Companies looking for just above entry-level candidates with one or two years’ experience are really struggling.
“Partly it’s because young people haven’t been able to get the right experience because of the pandemic, and also it’s because travel has finally opened up so many younger people are taking delayed gap years. But I think the main reason is that Gen Z are looking for something very different from work — and employers are finding it hard to understand and manage them.”