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Redefining Work-Life

This newest generation of workers chooses to work to live, not live to work.

Rather than embrace hustle culture and the “no days off” mentality, much of the younger generation of workers are openly declaring a distaste for capitalism and untethering their perceived value, self worth and identity from their occupation.

They are redefining their relationship with work, prioritizing balance and seeking harmony. While new to the workforce, they are clear about what they want from it – and freedom and flexibility rank high.

A Need for More

In some ways, it’s not at all surprising. Many young Canadians entered the workforce during the unprecedented economic times of the COVID-19 pandemic that saw stalled and declining wages followed by significant inflation and consecutive interest rate hikes. Many also on-boarded remotely without an attachment to a physical workplace and virtual-only relationships with co-workers.

They want more out of work and life than a traditional 9-to-5 job has offered. And, they are unwilling to tolerate burnout and dissatisfaction – certainly not for the sake of a job they don’t even like.

A Generational Shift

A recent study by the Fraser Institute and Leger found support for capitalism decreases with age. In Canada, just 39% of respondents aged 18-to-34 agreed capitalism is the ideal economic system. That number climbs to 66% for those aged 55 and older.

This newest generation of workers chooses to work to live, not live to work.

It About More Than a Pay Cheque

As they redefine work-life, they expect more from their employer than vacation days, health plans and RRSP matching. These former perks and benefits are now considered table stakes. Flexible work arrangements, like hybrid and remote work, are also widely considered non-negotiable now. So much so that popular job-seeking sites opted to list it right next to the position title on employment ads.

Those entering the workforce evaluating prospective employers look for well-being initiatives too, like mental health days and access to a gym on-site or at a discount. As the most diverse generation of workers yet, they’re on alert for diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

Gen Z places “importance and value on ethics, morals and passions,” according to HubSpot who also notes this generation is expected to make up nearly 30% of the workforce by 2025. “Gen Z workers not only look for values-driven companies, but also places in which they can be a part of the mission and vision in a more meaningful way.”

Selective Employment Relationships

According to the bi-annual Job Optimism Survey by Robert Half, Gen Z and Millennials are among those most likely to make a career move in 2023. Skilled young Canadians are keenly aware of the talent shortage and are confident they can find better opportunities, with higher pay, more relevant perks and better work-life-balance.

While much of this would be unheard of for older generations of workers, young Canadians can and are actively and intentionally choosing a relationship with work that provides a sense of purpose, is in alignment with their values and allows ample flexibility to be fulfilled by life outside of work.


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