Generational Showdown: Gen Z Battles Boomers Over Work Ethic and Finance

America’s youngest adults prioritize salary and advancement over other factors when job hunting. Is that setting them up for misery in their career?

Are Gen Z Workers Entitled, or Do They Just Know Their Worth?

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It’s unsurprising that young adults from Generation Z have a different outlook and set of priorities than their predecessors.

Some of their older colleagues blame entitlement, but is the economy to blame?

Priorities in the Workplace by Generation

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Studies show that members of Gen Z care most about the salary they’ll earn and the opportunities for advancement that a prospective job offers.

This is in stark contrast to their baby boomer and Gen X colleagues, who mostly just want to be happy and feel satisfied at work.

Millennials, it seems, are just burned out altogether.

A Major Development in Career Advice

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Compared to when Gen X and millennials entered the workforce, the advice on starting a career has shifted significantly. 

Older Generations Were Taught to Value Loyalty to Companies

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While their older counterparts were told to find a great job with great benefits and ride it out until retirement, Gen Z has been advised of the benefits of exploring new opportunities periodically. 

Are Loyal Workers Punished for Staying Put?

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In fact, employees who stay put in their roles for years may just be making less than new folks hired on to do the same job.

Employers have gone from rewarding loyalty to essentially punishing it by piling on the workloads and skimping on the pay.

With Age Comes Less Concern About Salary

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Recent research has pointed to the fact that as the working population ages, salary is less of a sticking point for them in their career.

That’s not to say that older Gen Xers and Boomers don’t care at all about money, but it’s not their top motivator when job hunting.

Older Workers Just Want to Be Happy

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A study from Bain & Co. revealed that by the age of 62, people started placing enjoyment at work in higher esteem. The same study showed that Gen Z’s focus was salary. 

Age Groups vs. Generations

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Experts warn against conflating age and generation, however. While some of the preferences surrounding careers are impacted by generation, age group is actually more important.

Many Gen Z employees who care most about salary today will shift their opinions as they get older.

Understanding Gen Z’s Priorities

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But is there a bigger picture to consider? As inflation soars and wages have stagnated, Generation Z adults have entered the workforce at a tumultuous time when salary isn’t just important – it’s critical to survival.

Cost of Living and Its Impact

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The cost of living has risen to the point that minimum wage doesn’t support anyone over the poverty line, so is it any wonder why Gen Z is worried about what their paychecks look like?

Show Gen Z the Money

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So naturally, Gen Z workers go where the money takes them. Between skyrocketing rents, student loan payments that have recently resumed after a government pause, and increasing food costs, they’re left with little choice.

Inflation’s Effect on Gen Z

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While most of their colleagues from earlier generations could dive into a comfortable life on humble salaries, that isn’t the reality for today’s young adults.

One study showed that 39% of Gen Z consider financial insecurity to be the source of most of their anxiety.

Access to Information Changed the Game

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Gen Z’s priorities are also affected by their ability to learn inside information about their careers before they even clock in for their first day. 

They have been able to glean tips from seasoned workers in their fields through internet forums and social media, which has given them more than just an advantage in interviews. 

Job Hopping: A New Normal

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83% of Gen Z adults in the workforce identify as “job hoppers,” going from employer to employer to follow money and opportunities for advancement. 

Is Loyalty a Thing of the Past?

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And while millennials and Gen Xers were told to avoid that strategy, Gen Z has embraced it as the best way to gain momentum in their careers. 

Strategies for Attracting Gen Z Workers

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For employers looking to hire recent Gen Z graduates, there are ways to attract these dynamic go-getters authentically. 

Salary Transparency

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First, salary transparency is key. In some states, there’s a legal requirement to disclose the salary range of a position when advertising the opening.

But even when it’s not mandatory, Gen Z is more inclined to inquire about a position if they know the salary range going in.

Advancement Opportunities

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Second, employers who are open to promoting talent from within who show promise – especially those who would do so relatively quickly – will see the most interest from Gen Z. 

The Bottom Line

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They want to know that the time they put into their jobs will lead somewhere, and upward mobility is important to them.

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The post Generational Showdown: Gen Z Battles Boomers Over Work Ethic and Finance first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.