Gen Z's future will be brighter than previous generations - EY survey


Gen Z is optimistic about their future as they begin to enter the workforce. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of EY Gen Z interns surveyed by the firm at its 21st annual International Intern Leadership Conference (IILC), feel confident that they will be better off, both financially and in happiness at work, than their parents.

The growing feeling that employers today are more in tune with employee needs is a factor contributing to this optimistic outlook, alongside the prevalence of new technologies such as automation, robotics and AI. Gen Zers feel that these technologies will allow employees to focus more on adding value to their work and increase productivity.

IILC convenes nearly 3,300 interns from across 29 different countries annually for training sessions and programs designed to help build leadership skills and broaden awareness around the EY network and the professional services industry. The survey, which included over 1,600 participants, was designed to gauge Gen Z sentiment around the future of work as they enter the workforce.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • New technologies will enhance job satisfaction and productivity: Three-quarters of respondents (76 percent) agree that new technologies will evolve the nature of work that they do. Two-thirds (66 percent) think that these new technologies will actually enable them to increase their productivity and over half (52 percent) think it will allow them to focus on more interesting and 'value added' work (52 percent). Only 17 percent of respondents think new technologies will actually decrease the number of jobs available to them.
  • Gen Z has the most inclusive mindset to date: Over three-quarters of respondents (84 percent) say that their ability to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures is a key skill that sets them apart from older job candidates. This sentiment is particularly apparent among black respondents, 97 of whom cited this; followed by Hispanic (87 percent) and white individuals (82 percent).
  • Ambition is prevalent and flexibility important: When asked what they prioritize most when looking for an employer, the majority of respondents (84 percent) cite potential for career progression and growth. This far surpasses salary (1 percent), work abroad opportunities (24 percent) and competitive maternity and paternity leave benefits (16 percent). Flexibility is also a key priority for this generation, with 50 percent citing this as one of their key priorities when looking for an employer.
  • Millennial managers are the preference: Over two-thirds (67 percent) of total respondents said they would prefer to have a millennial manager over a Gen X or Baby Boomer. Within this, male respondents (48 percent) said they would prefer to have a male millennial manager, while female respondents (40 percent) would prefer a female millennial. Furthermore, a majority of African American respondents (71 percent) and Hispanic respondents (65 percent) indicated that they would rather have a millennial manager vs. white respondents (45 percent).
  • Job satisfaction is just as, if not more, important to Gen Z than money: Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) say that job satisfaction and financial stability are equally important. More males (54 percent) than females (42 percent) prefer financial stability (15 percent total).
  • Gen Z is confident that employers are in tune with their needs: The majority of respondents who say that they think they will be better off than their parents attribute this feeling towards a stronger understanding by employers around their employees' needs (31 percent). Twenty-seven percent say this is because flexibility is more of a priority for the incoming generation; 16 percent say that employers know that Gen Z will be quick to switch jobs if they grow dissatisfied.

"As Gen Z enters the workforce for the first time, it is encouraging to see how optimistic they are about their career prospects, as well as the impact that technology will have on the way they work," said Larry Nash, Ernst & Young LLP's U.S. Recruiting Leader. "Our survey findings re-affirm what we already know - this generation is driven, passionate and open-minded. They also place a strong emphasis on flexibility and opportunities for growth. At EY we are always identifying new ways to support students, incoming graduates and our younger workforce. Just like Gen Z, we are optimistic about the future, as we continue to evolve alongside them and adapt to disruption and the changing global workplace."

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