Gen Z Seek Jobs Based On One Reason— And It's Not The Paycheck

They're focusing on living and working for a purpose.

woman at computer Jopwell / Pexels

The American workplace environment is in a unique moment in its evolution. Employees in any given organization span across five different generations, meaning people have drastically different ideas about what they want at a job and how they believe work should operate. 

A report from PwC established that Millennials are set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, meaning more people born and raised in the 80s and 90s are stepping into leadership positions. As they do so, members of Gen Z are establishing their own careers, and it’s clear that what motivates them to work is set apart from past generations. 


Gen Z employees don't prioritize pay when seeking jobs.

A survey conducted by Deloitte polled 22,856 respondents across 44 countries, focusing on millennials and members of Gen Z. The survey found that employees of those generations tend to prioritize moral values and workplace culture over what they're being paid. Concern over the ever-increasing cost of living still looms, as half of both Millennials and Gen Z reported living paycheck to paycheck. A true sense of economic stability feels entirely out of reach.

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Despite a sense of increasing economic instability, or maybe because of it, Gen Z is shifting its focus at work to other issues.

More people are coming to the conclusion that it isn’t worth sacrificing mental health for work, especially in an economy with no safety nets. For these reasons, the emphasis on what they want in a job has shifted.

People in Gen Z, who were born in 1995 or later, entered their adulthood as so many of our social and cultural fault lines broke apart. They came of age hiding under their desks during active shooter drills, learning that schools aren’t places that can guarantee safety. They graduated college with crushing debt, into an economy spiraling down, as the cost of living continues to rise. 

So much of Gen Z’s future feels untenable, it’s no wonder they’re so motivated to change the way they work.

Members of Gen Z are demanding work-life balance— actual balance. 80% of Gen Z reported that they take a company’s mental health policies into consideration when looking for a job. If three years of an ongoing pandemic have revealed anything, it’s that we all need better support networks when it comes to mental healthcare. 

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In seeking a true balance between how they live and how they work, Gen Z employees want changes focused on humanity, not profit. Gen Z expects to find work in organizations that focus on the long-lasting social impact of what they do. Deloitte’s survey found that 44% of Gen Z have refused to take on certain assignments in their workplace due to ethical concerns. 39% reported turning down jobs at organizations that are misaligned with their values. 

gen z and millennial work culture

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The cultural context of how Gen Z grew up is a crucial part of understanding the changes they want in the workplace.

They were raised to be digitally fluent, coming of age with a never-ending news cycle and instant access to information, leading to a keener awareness of the intersection among social, political, and environmental crises


Respondents to Deloitte’s survey reported that the climate crisis influences what jobs they take. 6 out of 10 respondents have felt climate anxiety within the last month, a feeling that’s impacting their life choices. 42% have changed their jobs or switched industries because of climate concerns. 50% of people polled reported that they’re pushing their employers to create change on environmental issues.

Gen Z has come of age as witnesses to major climate catastrophes. As temperatures rise and water grows scarce, they’re taking on a truly unstable world. They’re accepting a devastated inheritance, watching storms and wildfires wreak havoc.

These issues can feel so heavy, so tangled, that evoking change feels impossible. Yet Gen Z proves that we can all have a different future, one where our collective well-being comes first. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.