Jobs Are No Longer for Life; Just for Now

This isn’t another article berating Millennials or Gen Z’ers for killing capitalism by whatever means, but rather, a love letter to two generations making choices that defy the choices of the generations preceding them. There are many things that millennials and Gen Z do not have in common, such as our taste in fashion, style, music, entertainment, or pretty much, our taste in everything. I sit somewhere between the two, born in 1995, a big fan of avocado toast and coffee, but not so much a fan of Facebook.

There have been countless occasions in which the Millennial and Gen Z generations have come at a head-on collision in recent years. Many articles, vlogs, and Twitter threads outline contention points between the two generations. However, there is one thing that we do have in common: our propensity to job hop. That is, when the going gets tough (or inconvenient, or boring, or no longer interesting), we get going.

Millennials and Gen Z are spoilt for choice. Whether it comes to our love lives and our toxic relationship with dating apps, or our relationship with our careers and the professions we chose, we are always shopping for the next best thing. We have a world of knowledge at our fingertips. In contrast, our predecessors would have to go out on foot with a CV to find a new job. One quick google can tell us that the company next door is hiring for our exact same role but offering us a nice shiny pay-rise. If we want to switch industry, there is a world of free or cheap courses that can be done from the comfort of our own beds providing us with the knowledge and skills needed to enter a new industry. If the entire world is at our fingertips and all these opportunities are out there waiting for us, why would we not grab them?

With all these opportunities awaiting us, theirs been a growing concentration on developing multiple sources of income, or as it’s otherwise nicknamed on the internet, ‘hustle culture’. This hustle culture, particularly throughout the pandemic, has placed more emphasis on an individual’s economic value and productivity rather than their human value and work-life balance. Because of this, millennials and Gen Z are much more likely to have ‘side hustles’, according to a recent survey by SunTrust bank.

Millennials are both more likely to have side hustles than previous generations, and more likely to have multiple side hustles, which leads to a more significant proportion of our income coming from these side hustles. Many young people aren’t staying put because they’re juggling multiple plates, rather than depending on one income source. This defies what our parents have taught us that loyalty is rewarded in the workplace and that you need to stick at one thing and do it well.

Whilst there are many downsides to this hustle culture, such as burn out and toxic productivity, it does provide young people with the opportunity to try on multiple hats and see which one fits. Suppose my full-time job gives me the flexibility to pursue these side interests. In that case, it becomes a balancing act I can afford to pursue, allowing me both security and the opportunity to appease my curiosity of ventures anew. However, with any balancing act, there often comes a need for a shift – one side hustle takes off and demands more of your time, another becomes less profitable or interesting anymore, or you find a

Amongst the younger generations, there is also a rising demand for flexibility, with 92% of millennials identifying flexibility as a top priority whilst job hunting. Disillusioned with the idea of the restrictive 9-5 job, we want more for ourselves, and we are more switched on to how and when we are at our most productive. This could be due to the changing role of technology in our lives. With the invention and hyper-usage of smartphones, we are always switched on and available to work. If everyone is easily contactable, 24 hours a day, what is the need to be sat in the office 9-5 when a Zoom call will suffice? The pandemic’s WFH push has further highlighted how remote and flexible working is the future. This also links to our lives’ changing nature – with more women entering the workforce. Yet, the demands in home life are barely changing, women particularly need more flexibility to ‘have it all’.

However, it’s not just us that is the ‘problem’. Employers are increasingly recruiting for more short-term, temporary working arrangements, to provide them with increased flexibility that the current uncertain economic climate requires, reducing the liability on their side to provide company benefits, statutory sick pay or annual leave. This can be seen across a range of sectors, from hospitality and retail all the way to academia and consultancy.

As the world becomes more globalised, and the needs of businesses become more complex and quickly changing, there is less loyalty on the employer’s side to provide a conducive environment that warrants a younger employee to commit their life to the organisation. Simply put, Millennials and Gen Z want more than what many businesses are currently offering, and they aren’t afraid to shop around until they find it.

Commissioned for The Everyday Magazine