A key lesson that emerged from the events of the past two years is that people have a new outlook on life and work. Employees are looking to prioritise happiness and purpose in their lives. And younger workers, in particular, want more meaning from their jobs.

That is, according to the Randstad Workmonitor, which surveyed 1,000 employees across Australia, gauging their sentiment about work and life.

The data shows that Millennials and Gen Z are at the forefront of this movement to find greater satisfaction and happiness through employment. And a growing proportion of people believe happiness is the key to success in life and at work.

Fifty per cent of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials indicate they would rather be unemployed than work in a job that makes them unhappy, making it clear that employers wanting to retain talent have their work cut out to keep their staff happy. This contrasts with only 28% of Baby Boomers saying they would leave a job if they were unhappy. 

Looking further at the priorities of younger generations, the picture becomes even more stark. Sixty-eight per cent of Gen Z and 55% of Young Millennials, and 50% of Older Millennials (35-44 year-old) said they’d quit their job if it stopped them from enjoying life.

A quarter of Gen Z and 38% of Millennials say they have previously quit a job because it didn’t fit with their personal life.

The more conservative, older generations feel differently — 29% of 35-44-year-olds, 22% of 45-54-year-olds and 17% of 55-67-year-olds.  

Learning to live and adapt in an ever-changing post-pandemic world of work, business leaders need to carefully consider how work fits into our daily lives — rather than the other way around. This is a mindset shift for sure, but it’s essential for the future, to successfully attract, engage and retain the right talent.

Leaders should not cower away from the concept but rather see it as an opportunity to evolve and develop their mindsets and organisations as we navigate the dynamic new world of work.


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young people want to bring their whole selves to work

man smiling with headphones and computer
man smiling with headphones and computer

In recent years, the acceleration of the social justice movement, growing concerns about climate change, and workplace diversity and inclusion have been top of mind for many business leaders. And the new, heightened sense of purpose experienced by people post-pandemic guides career choices and the work people do.

The Randstad Workmonitor data reveals just how important a company’s values are to its workforce. For younger workers, it’s about purpose over a paycheck. Younger people are prompting businesses to put purpose and values at the heart of their work, as they want their work to align with their personal convictions.

  • Over half of Gen Z (59%) said they wouldn’t accept a job with a business that doesn’t align with their values on social and environmental issues compared to a third (33%) of Baby Boomers.
  • And 55% of Gen Z and 47% of Millennials said they wouldn't work for a business that wasn’t making a proactive effort to improve its diversity and equity compared to 28% of their older counterparts.
  • A staggering 6 in 10 (59%) Gen Z workers said they wouldn’t mind earning less money if they felt their job contributed to the world or society, compared to only a fifth (20%) of Baby Boomers.

Demonstrating that a lot of good work is being done in the market, three-quarters of all Australians said they feel their current employers’ values and purpose align with their own. And whilst consistently high across all age groups, this was highest for Gen Z (82%).

The importance of aligning corporate values with the workforce will only grow as social issues are amplified in media, business and government.

Employers must ensure that any divergence of their culture and values from their people are minimal and addressed as differences arise. Only by doing so can companies attract and retain the best talent in a more values-conscious and purpose-driven world.

employers beware

A man waiting on the train platform
A man waiting on the train platform

Employers are struggling to fulfil talent demands. At a time when talent scarcity is impeding so many employers, failing to meet the expectations of an enlightened workforce can be disastrous for organisations seeking the best people. 

Our data shows that 67% of all workers are open to new job opportunities, and nearly a quarter of younger Australians (21% of Gen Z and 24% of Millennials) say they are actively looking for a new job.

Gen Z shows the most confidence in finding a new job quickly if they were to lose it (61%), compared with 35% of Baby Boomers. And 67% of all workers say they are open to new opportunities if the right job comes along. 

Flexibility and an excellent work-life balance are a big part of employee happiness. Even though the vast majority of workers in Australia say that flexible hours (84%) and flexible locations (73%) are essential to them, nearly half (46%) don’t feel they have any flexibility in terms of where they work. Almost one-third (32%) can’t control their hours. 

Flexibility in working hours is most important to Millennials (90%) and Gen X (86%) age groups, but in terms of flexibility to work remotely, Gen Z (86%) find this the most important.

When asked what they would choose to spend more time on if they had a totally flexible work schedule, nearly half of all age groups voted unanimously for spending more time with and caring for family.

The reality is that many who can work from home, they don’t see any compelling reasons for long commutes and fixed work hours in the workplace. Hybrid schedules remain the most popular because these arrangements satisfy the need for in-person interactions and collaborations, as well as flexibility to work remotely and productively, arguably often with fewer distractions and interruptions compared with working on-site.

Most organisations need to retain some job flexibility for their workforce. If business leaders fail to deliver the most sought-after work-related benefit, then hiring and retaining the best people will remain a struggle.

it’s about people first

Business leaders need to determine how to evolve their workplace strategies to be set up for success. They must lead by example by adopting a talent-first mindset and listening to what employees - and the different generations - are saying.

By doing so, they will ensure access to a full and sustainable talent pipeline that will only enhance their teams and company culture for the better.


If you’d like to access unique insights from employees across Australia, to hear their voice on what they want and expect from employers and how willing they are to ask for it, download the 2022 Randstad Workmonitor Report today.