New research has provided insights into Gen Z and Millennial workers’ concerns and whether or not their organisations measure up on key issues.
The 12th annual Deloitte Gen Z and Millennial Survey provided a snapshot of more than 22,000 people globally, including 501 New Zealanders.
Across both generations here in New Zealand, and globally, cost of living was named as the greatest concern. More than half of millennials here (58 per cent) said cost of living was their biggest concern compared with 42 per cent of Gen Z.
Mental health was the second biggest concern among Gen Zs (30 per cent) while millennials were concerned about crime/personal safety (25 per cent) and healthcare/disease prevention (23 per cent).
Both generations also cited climate change as a top five issue.
Globally, unemployment featured in the top three concerns of both Gen Z and millennials, but didn’t feature among New Zealanders.
With cost of living a major focus of the past year as Kiwis battle with rising prices, nearly half of both Gen Z (49 per cent) and millennials (49 per cent) said they lived pay cheque to pay cheque and worried they wouldn’t be able to cover their expenses.
In comparison, last year 41 per cent of Gen Zers and 47 per cent of millennials said they lived pay cheque to pay cheque.
Globally, 51 per cent of Gen Z respondents and 52 per cent of millennials reported living pay cheque to pay cheque.
Both generations were most pessimistic about buying a home in the next 12 months if the economy didn’t improve, with 75 per cent of Kiwi Gen Z and 65 per cent of millennials saying it would be either harder or impossible.
This figure was 62 per cent globally for both generations.
Sixty per cent of Gen Zs and 51 per cent of millennials said it would be harder or impossible to ask for a pay raise in the next 12 months.
Exactly half of both Gen Zs and millennials said it would be harder or impossible to start a family in the next 12 months under the current economic conditions.
More Kiwis have taken on either a part-time or fulltime side job compared with last year, with 45 per cent of Gen Z doing so (42 per cent in 2022) and 29 per cent of millennials (24 per cent in 2022).
A source of secondary income was a common theme as to why both generations had taken on side jobs.
Flexible work still king
As Gen Zs and millennials rethink the role of work in their lives, work-life balance remains a top priority along with flexible work arrangements.
But only 39 per cent of Gen Z and 30 per cent of millennials reported being very satisfied with their current work-life balance in their job.
Neither generation liked the idea of being told to return to the office full-time, with 78 per cent of Gen Z and 85 per cent of millennials saying they would consider looking for a new job.
Asked what organisations can do to help foster a better work-life balance for their employees, both generations said allowing staff to work flexible hours and the four-day work week were most important.
Lauren Foster, Deloitte New Zealand human capital partner, said while Covid-19 had left some negative societal legacies, it had also ushered in some positive workplace trends.
“Covid-19 taught us that many more roles than we thought could be done outside of the traditional 9-5 office grind,” Foster told the Herald.
“Companies that have large Millennial and Gen Z workforces particularly need to challenge themselves to look at ways they can offer their people more flexible ways of working. However, flexibility is a benefit to all people regardless of generation.
“Often, flexibility is just the start for companies though, there are different ways of managing and leading in hybrid workplaces that need to be thought through so it’s not as simple as just letting people come to the office when they feel like it.”
Stress levels up, workers struggle to disconnect
The survey found Kiwi workers are feeling greater levels of burnout in the workplace than they did last year.
More than half (52 per cent) of Gen Z said the intensity/demands of their workloads left them feeling burnt out, up from 45 per cent last year, while 46 per cent of millennials said the same thing (40 per cent in 2022).
Both generations reported feeling greater stress or anxiety either all or most of the time than their global counterparts. 51 per cent of Kiwi Gen Z said they felt this way (46 per cent globally) and 44 per cent of millennials did as well (39 per cent globally).
The biggest contributor to both Gen Z (44 per cent) and millennials’ (48 per cent) stress/anxiety was their longer-term financial future. Day-to-day finances, mental health, family/personal relationships and health/welfare of family were also contributing factors.
However, 57 per cent of Gen Z and 58 per cent of millennials said they felt their employer takes the mental health of its employees seriously and has policies designed to help.
And when considering a job, more than 80 per cent of both Gen Z and millennials said mental health support and policies were very or somewhat important.
An inability to disconnect from work outside working hours was also highlighted in Deloitte’s survey.
Twenty per cent of Gen Z respondents and 25 per cent of millennials said they found themselves responding to work messages outside normal working hours. Just under a quarter (24 per cent of Gen Z and 22 per cent of millennials) did so 1-2 days a week.
Emails coming from a superior, struggling to disconnect from work and staying up to date on the latest developments were key reasons for those still checking their inboxes after work.
Foster said this is something all age brackets were struggling with as being able to work from home can sometimes make it difficult to disconnect once traditional working hours have ended.
“I’ve seen more people carrying two devices recently – one for work and one for personal. I think keeping these separate is probably the easiest way of managing this. It provides a degree of separation,” she said.
Advocate and employment mediator Danny Gelb last week told the Herald some bosses were taking drastic steps to stop people working when on leave or sick.
With more organisations taking measures such as stopping staff from accessing work IT systems, he said, “the idea is if you’re away from work we want you to get rest and get well.”
And the rest...
Elsewhere in the survey, climate change was front of mind for many with 57 per cent of Gen Z saying they felt worried or anxious about climate change compared with 52 per cent of millennials.
Gen Z were more willing to pay extra to purchase environmentally sustainable products or services (60 per cent) than millennials (49 per cent).
Both generations believed their employer had deprioritised its climate strategy over the past couple of years due to Covid and inflation, with 56 per cent of Gen Z agreeing this was the case and 53 per cent of millennials.
To combat climate change, both felt education and training on how to be sustainable and banning or reducing single-use plastic products around the office were the most important areas for their organisation to invest in.
“Gen Zs and millennials want to be empowered to drive change within their organisations, and their ability to do so in relation to social issues has the potential to make or break the recruitment and retention of these generations,” Foster said.
Shockingly, 59 per cent of Gen Z’s and 47 per cent of millennials in New Zealand said they have experienced harassment or microaggressions at work in the past 12 months.
The most common of these was offensive or suggestive emails/communications, followed by repeated disparaging or belittling comments about one’s gender.
When it came to handling harassment complaints, 39 per cent of Gen Z said they felt their employer did very or somewhat well, 35 per cent said not very/not well at all and 23 per cent did not report harassment. Millennials reported having better outcomes overall, with 54 per cent saying their employer did very/somewhat well in handling a harassment complaint, 26 per cent said not very/not well at all and 14 per cent did not report it.
“I think this is an area that businesses are continuing to work on and it has been good to see how seriously many companies take reports like this these days,” she said.