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Gen Z might be more ambitious at work than you think

Integrated communications agency, BCW conducted a series of interviews with members of Generation Z from around the world to determine the values they hold dear

Published: Jun 13, 2023 12:46:40 PM IST
Updated: Jun 28, 2023 10:56:47 AM IST

Gen Z might be more ambitious at work than you thinkMembers of Generation Z will represent 27% of the global workforce by 2025. Image: Shutterstock

Often viewed as lazy, disinterested or inflexible, there are all kinds of stereotypes surrounding Generation Z, the young people born between 1997 and 2012. But they are far from reflecting reality, as a new global report affirms.

Integrated communications agency, BCW* conducted a series of interviews with members of Generation Z from around the world, to determine the values they hold dear. It also interviewed Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), members of Generation X (1965-1981), baby boomers (1946-1964) and representatives of the silent generation (1925-1945).

It turns out that the vast majority of respondents are social animals, "hard-wired to cooperate with each other and avoid dispute or discord." And this is true regardless of the generation to which they belong. They adhere to values such as benevolence, universalism and security, even though the BCW survey reveals disparities between countries. The Japanese, for example, tend to value power, conformity and hedonism, while Brazilians prefer tradition, self-determination and benevolence.

Generational differences were observed, albeit much less marked than might be imagined. They do, however, contradict certain preconceived ideas, particularly about members of Generation Z. These young people are often criticized for their lack of professional qualities, even though they will represent 27% of the global workforce by 2025. They are often seen as lacking focus and driven by unrealistic desires that make them unsuitable for the world of work.

Also read: How members of Gen Z are honing their 'personal brand' for success in the job market

A more demanding relationship with work

Yet members of Generation Z are far more ambitious than their detractors claim. Power, success and hedonism are their shared values. What's more, 44% of respondents in this age bracket say it's important for them to be successful and to be recognized for their achievements. In comparison, only 37% of Millennials and 13% of baby boomers surveyed share this opinion.

For Taylor Saia, strategy and planning director at BCW's UK branch, this generational gap could be explained by the role of social networks in young people's lives. "Younger generations have grown up in highly digitized societies in which peers’ achievements are broadcast on social media, affording a window into the highlights of other people’s lives. As a result, it’s no wonder that younger generations focus so much on realizing, and being seen to be realizing, their highest potential," he explains in the BCW "Age of Values" report.

That said, while members of Generation Z may seem more ambitious than their elders, they are far more demanding of their relationship with work. They aspire to a better balance between their professional and personal lives, and don't want to waste their time in a job that doesn't stimulate them. In fact, 43% of the young people surveyed attach importance to doing things that bring them pleasure—a parameter that organizations must take into account if they want to remain attractive to young people.

*Survey conducted between December 2022 and April 2023 among 36,000 people over the age of 18 (with internet access) in 30 countries worldwide.

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