Workers Over 65 Are 2x More Likely To Identify With Their Job Than Younger Workers
- Workers aged 65 and over are nearly 2x more likely to say work is an ‘important part of their identity’ than workers aged 18-29.
- 54% of young women and 49% of young men feel they have to adjust their appearance or presentation to fit in at work.
- Gen Z workers are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than they did in 2019, while Boomers are switching 4% less often.
We hear a lot about the changing nature of work, from the rise of remote working to the phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’. But we rarely get a real sense of how these changes affect workers’ psychology.
New research analyzed by Moneyzine.com reveals how work impacts the identity of employees - and it speaks to a striking shift in generational attitudes towards the workplace.
A recent survey of American workers revealed a gulf in the way older workers feel about work compared to their younger colleagues. While 45% of men aged 65 and over say their job is an important part of who they are, just 26% of men aged 18-29 say the same. A similar trend emerged amongst women, with 37% aged 65+ identifying with their roles compared to just 24% aged 18-29.
Some of this will be explained by career trajectory - older people are more likely to have achieved a high-status position, which would incentivise them to identify with their role. But the survey also speaks to a generational shift in attitudes.
Here are a few factors that may play a role:
1. Young people change jobs more
When older workers entered the workplace, it was generally taken as a given that they would stay on the same career trajectory- often the same company - for most of their working life. But research suggests Gen Z don’t see things that way.
LinkedIn data shows that Gen Z are far more willing to ‘job hop’ than previous generations. Gen Z workers are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than 2019, while millennials are changing jobs 24% more and Boomers are doing so 4% less. They are also more likely than older workers to say they hope or plan to leave their employer in the next 6 months.
2. Young people feel they have to code-switch
Younger workers feel they have to change more about themselves when at work. 49% of young men and 54% of young women feel they have to adjust their appearance or presentation to fit in at work; 32% of older men and 39% of older women said the same.
If younger workers feel they have to change who they are in a working environment, it is harder for them to truly identify with their job.
3. Young people have less faith in their future job prospects
Half of American Gen Z workers who are old enough to work witnessed someone in their household lose a job or take a pay cut due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Those slightly older will recall 2008’s financial crisis very vividly.
As a result, many young people likely feel skeptical that their own future will be stable enough to pin an identity on. A recent study found one third of UK workers between 16-25 believe their career prospects will never fully recover after COVID-19.
Only time will tell what this change in workers’ relationship will mean for the wider economy. Younger workers who refuse to be defined by their work might be less prone to exhausting careerism. But identifying with one’s work can be a huge motivator, and this coming generation will need all the motivation they can get to overcome the challenges that lay ahead of them.Luke Eales, CEO of Moneyzine.com