Even among Gen Z (born 1997-2012), there are distinct segments – high achievers driven to succeed vs activists bucking the system. I saw this firsthand with a former student, now at a top marketing agency. Despite being Gen Z, he considered his cohort as “crazy” with opposing mentalities.

Identity crisis in Gen Z

This Gen Z identity crisis is fueling issues adapting to corporate jobs. Lack of patience causes them to expect rapid promotions or plum projects immediately. But creative free spirits clash with structure, spurning discipline.

There are several factors that have contributed to the identity crisis Gen Z is facing. One significant factor is the rapid technological advancement and exposure to diverse perspectives through the internet and social media.

Gen Z  grew up in a digital age, which has exposed them to a wider range of ideas, values, and beliefs. This exposure has led to the formation of distinct segments within the generation, as they have access to a plethora of information and are more likely to question traditional norms and systems.

Additionally, the economic and social landscape that Gen Z grew up in has played a role in shaping their identity. They witnessed the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and are aware of the challenges their parents and older generations faced. This has instilled a desire for financial stability and success, but also a scepticism towards corporate structures and a willingness to challenge the status quo.

A multi-faceted approach

Addressing the identity crisis in Gen Z requires a multi-faceted approach, ranging from education to mentorship.

Some strategies to consider include:

  1. Education and awareness: Encouraging open discussions about identity, values, and aspirations can help Gen Z individuals gain a better understanding of themselves and their peers. Schools, colleges, and workplaces can facilitate workshops and programs that promote self-reflection and understanding of different perspectives.
  2. Mentorship and guidance: Providing mentorship programs within corporate environments can help Gen Z employees navigate the challenges of corporate life while staying true to their values and goals. Mentors can offer valuable insights and support, helping them find a balance between their desire for independence and the need to adapt to established norms.
  3. Flexible work arrangements: Offering flexible work options can be beneficial for Gen Z employees who value independence and work-life balance. Embracing remote work, flexible hours, and project-based assignments can appeal to their creative free spirit and reduce clashes with rigid corporate structures.
  4. Transparent communication: Employers should strive for open and transparent communication with their Gen Z employees. Being upfront about expectations, career growth opportunities, and company culture can help manage their expectations and reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.

Keep in mind that without workplace diversity or representation, many quit if the culture appears off-brand. Some alumni fled companies within days over culture fits, not even waiting to be let go.

Managing expectations is key. Gen Z wants meaning and independence but must navigate norms and paying dues. Mentoring, flexibility and transparency can help avoid derailment. Gen Z has a desire for rapid promotions and meaningful work may lead to frustration when they encounter the reality of starting at entry-level positions and working their way up. They may feel disillusioned if they don’t see quick progress.

Workplace diversity

A lack of workplace diversity or representation can make Gen Z employees feel disconnected from the company culture. If the values and ethos of the organisation do not align with their own, they may choose to leave rather than compromise their beliefs.

Gen Z places a strong emphasis on finding purpose and meaning in their work. If they perceive their role as mundane or lacking impact, they might be inclined to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Gen Z values work-life balance and may become disenchanted with companies that do not prioritise employee well-being. A lack of flexibility and support for personal development can lead to dissatisfaction and ultimately quitting.

63% of Gen Z have been fired or quit jobs within a year. It’s not all their fault – a generational collision is underway. But self-awareness and empathy on both sides can power breakthroughs.

Gen Z quitting their careers

Gen Z employees often find themselves leaving their careers for various reasons, which highlight their unique priorities and values. One significant factor leading to their departures is the pursuit of purpose and meaning in their work. If they perceive their job as lacking fulfilment or failing to align with their core values and long-term aspirations, they may seek alternative opportunities that offer a greater sense of purpose. Additionally, work-life balance is crucial for Gen Z, and they prioritise their personal well-being. Jobs that demand excessive hours or create a stressful environment with little regard for work-life integration may push them to seek healthier work environments elsewhere.

Moreover, Gen Z is eager for rapid career growth and development. When their current job lacks clear paths for advancement or fails to recognise and reward their contributions, they might become disengaged and look for more promising opportunities. The importance of company culture cannot be overstated for Gen Z’s job satisfaction. If they don’t feel a sense of belonging or their values clash with the prevailing culture, they may decide to quit in search of a workplace that better aligns with their identity and beliefs.

Continual learning and skill development are integral to Gen Z’s enthusiasm for personal growth. If their current job doesn’t provide ample opportunities for professional development, they may look for more challenging and skill-enhancing roles. Additionally, the demanding and competitive nature of the job market can lead to burnout among Gen Z employees. If they experience chronic stress and exhaustion due to job demands, they may eventually choose to leave for the sake of their well-being.

Some Gen Z individuals harbour entrepreneurial aspirations and are drawn to the idea of freelancing or starting their own businesses. Consequently, they may decide to leave traditional corporate jobs to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams and have more control over their work. Flexibility and independence in work arrangements are highly valued by Gen Z, and they may actively seek out remote work options or remote-friendly companies to accommodate their preferences.

Furthermore, inclusivity and diversity are critical considerations for Gen Z. If they perceive their workplace as lacking these aspects and not promoting equal opportunities, they may be inclined to explore organisations that demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity. In conclusion, Gen Z’s decision to quit their careers often arises from their deep-seated desire for purpose, growth, work-life balance, and alignment with personal values. Employers who address these concerns and cultivate an environment conducive to personal and professional development stand a better chance of retaining Gen Z talent in their organisations.

The talent is there but environments must evolve to unlock Gen Z’s potential while tempering their overzealousness. With understanding, this culture clash can transform into a competitive edge. As employers strive to understand the unique priorities and values of Gen Z, they can unleash the potential of this talented and ambitious generation while tempering their overzealousness. By fostering empathy, self-awareness, and understanding on both sides, the generational collision can transform into a competitive edge for businesses, harnessing the creativity, passion, and drive that Gen Z brings to the table. Through these efforts, organisations can build a dynamic workforce that thrives on innovation and contributes positively to the world.

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