Generation Z and Generation Y would rather be unemployed than unhappy at work

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More than half of employees (56%) between the ages of 18 and 24, a demographic group classified as Gen Z, say they would quit a job that kept them from enjoying their lives, according to a new survey. According to Randstad Workmonitor’s 2022 report, 40% of this population said they “would rather be unemployed than unhappy working in a job they don’t like.” The survey surveyed 35,000 employees in 34 markets and showed a sea change in workplace attitudes – potentially triggered by the pandemic – as evidenced by The Great Resignation.

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The younger generations are also not content to pretend to respect work/life balance and personal fulfillment. Forty percent of Gen Z and Millennial respondents said they left a job because it didn’t fit their personal life, compared to 33 percent of respondents overall.

The study also outlined the top five workplace priorities for employees, focusing on what will help employers attract and retain Gen Z and Millennial workers (categorized as those aged 18 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years, respectively).

  • Lifestyle and happiness: No. 1 on the list, employees are looking for a “meaningful work experience,” or an attitude toward the company that helps them fit their work into their personal lives. Three-quarters of Gen Z respondents said work is important in their lives, while only 68% of older respondents said the same.
  • Alignment of values: Across all demographics, 43% of respondents said they would not join a company if the organization’s social and environmental values ​​did not align with their own. Similarly, 41% said they wouldn’t work for a company that doesn’t promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Employee Empowerment: Although professional training and personal development are important, employees are always looking for the right incentives and monetary benefits. In the past year, according to the survey, only 22% of employees said they had received better benefits, such as more time off, better health care or access to stronger retirement benefits. Meanwhile, 33% said they had received a raise, training or development offers in the workplace.
  • Job flexibility: According to the survey, nearly 75% of employees said a flexible workplace is important, while 83% said flexible hours to support their lives are essential. However, only about a quarter of employers currently offer both remote work and flexible hours.
  • Self-improvement and professional development: Just as employees want their work to align with their values ​​and lifestyle, they also expect their workplace to complement and support their development goals. Eighty-eight percent of respondents across all age groups said they would like to participate in learning and development programs if their organizations offered them. Sixty percent said they would like workshops or training on how to make more money. Half said they wanted advice on how to achieve a better work-life balance, and 40% wanted to learn how to advance in their careers, the study showed. However, only 25% of employees surveyed said they received training and development opportunities at their workplace.

The study highlights many gaps between what today’s workers want and what employers are offering. To combat the effects of the Great Quit, employers need to focus on more than competitive wages and benefits, but deliver what will really make a difference for today’s younger generations and promising workers.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer with interests in finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. His long list of publishing credits includes Bankrate, Lending Tree and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of, a travel, technology and entertainment website. She lives in Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten and three lizards of different sizes and personalities – plus her two children and her husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.