The youngest generation of workers have experienced a work-life balance transformation in the years since the pandemic entered the scene. In Microsoft’s 2022 Work Trend Index, a study that analyzed trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365, labor trends on LinkedIn and a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries, employees shared how the role of work in their lives has shifted. The results highlight these dramatic changes, including the enforcement of hybrid work boundaries, the heightened need for supportive management and what employees now say make a job “worth it.”
In this study, 47% said they are now more likely to prioritize family and personal life over work than they were before the pandemic. In line with this new standard, the Great Resignation saw 17% of employees quitting their jobs in 2020. That number continued to swell to 18% in 2021. Among those who walked away, personal wellbeing or mental health was the number one reason (24%), with work-life balance (24%) following closely behind.
This pattern of job switching seems far from over. In the year ahead, more than half of Gen Z and Millennials (52%) said they may change employers. This is a strikingly higher number than Gen X and Boomers, of whom only 35% report considering a job change.
For the youngest employees, the study reveals that “flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurial freedom are non-negotiable.” Among the Gen Z demographic, the study showed:
- 52% of hybrid employees are moving to a new location because remote work allows them the flexibility
- If “flexibility” is listed in a job posting, they are 77% more likely to engage
- 58% are considering a job change in the coming year
- Many are considering a shift in the structure of their work, 58% to hybrid work and 56% to remote work
For all job seekers, the aspects of work they consider “very important” include:
- A positive culture (46%)
- Mental health and wellbeing benefits (42%)
- A sense of purpose and meaning (40%)
- Flexible work hours (38%)
- More than the standard two weeks of paid vacation time each year (36%)
Gen Z shared these same top three priorities, but listed positive feedback as their fourth priority and a manager who will help advance their career as fifth.
While many are switching employers, Gen Z and Millennials are not limiting themselves to a traditional day job. Majority of both generations are hungry for creative opportunities, with 70% of Gen Z and 67% of Millennials reporting they are considering earning additional income through a side hustle or business opportunity in 2022.