8 key takeaways on what's important to Gen Zers

8 key takeaways on what's important to Gen Zers


Stability, to Gen Zers, is associated with financial independence; respondents expressed a desire to set up a strong foundation for their future from their early career.  

In research led by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 18-24-year-olds from Germany, the United States, India, China, Peru, and Nigeria were polled on what they hold dear to them, and it turns out work-life balance and job stability are both high on their list.

The report, titled Gen Z in the GME Pipeline, shed light on the following 10 key takeaways:

1. Gen Z's view on what success means to them is multi-dimensional. Success, to this generation, includes:

  • Financial freedom: "Able to live the life I want, support my future family"
  • Giving back/positive impact: "Impacting community, industry/profession"
  • Personal pride — pay off: "Satisfaction that efforts are successful, recognised by others"
  • Work/life balance: "Able to focus on me, wellness, rounded life"
  • Leadership role: "Able to shape and support. Achieve status, respect, recognition"
  • Peer recognition aka 'I made it': "Qualities acknowledged. Recognised as supportive coworker. Made the right choices for me"

2. Stability, to Gen Zers, is associated with financial independence; respondents expressed a desire to set up a strong foundation for their future from their early career. But stability is also considered as an important trait they identify when assessing the sector, industry and jobs they aspire to, a lasting consequence of the COVID pandemic.

3. What is a good employer in the eyes of Gen Z? Across the six markets, Gen Zers painted a picture of an employer that operates ethically, innovates and delivers for customers, values employees, and demonstrates appreciation for individual contributions. To Gen Z, an employer that’s driven by ethics provides support and opportunities for belonging, showing appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

4. While finance and accounting are seen as stable career paths, Gen Z on average finds tech more turbulent than Millennials and is less likely to want to pursue a career within the industry. This is seemingly due to the mass firings that have been seen across tech companies, exacerbated by the volatile nature of tech company stocks and shares.

5. According to the participants, mental health, wellness, and work-life balance were essential components of their future success. Candidates in the US market were especially upfront about their mental health needs. American and German candidates often tied their physical health to their overall wellness, while candidates in Nigeria expressed feeling fortunate about their good health. 

6. Other findings from the report indicate Gen Z's greater inclination towards collaboration and inclusivity. They envision future careers where they can collaborate with diverse teams, value perspectives from peers of different nationalities and cultures, and prioritise workplaces that address climate change and social injustice, aiming for careers that make a positive impact.

7. Beyond achieving a certain level of professional success to make their families and colleagues proud, Gen Z is considering the relative importance of the different dimensions of their lives. Is family more important than career? One candidate from the United States, 24, describes how he envisions his future and how he would prioritise family over career without sacrificing respect or responsibility in the workplace. But more importantly, how that respect and responsibility in his work will make him a better father because he could pass his knowledge onto his children.

8. On average, the respondents were optimistic about their individual future’s but anxious about the state of the world—including its impact on their own lives. The report finds an “emotional undercurrent” to the ambitions and career aspirations of Gen Z, where respondents highlighted that they wanted to feel a sense of pride in their work. Another respondent said “When chatting with my friends, most of our topics are about future work...will you care about whether your future work is what you like, whether it will make you feel stressed, or will you be happy?”

The report draws on qualitative research conducted by GMAC between 2022 and 2023, as well as inputs from 100+ Gen Zers.

Lead image / Shutterstock 

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