Which Gen Is Unhappiest at Work: X, Z, or Millennial?

Published: Nov 15, 2021

Topics: Workplace Issues       Work Relationships       

GoodHire, a leader in background check technology, recently released a new report on the meaning of work. GoodHire surveyed 4,000 full-time workers—an equal number of Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, and Gen-Zers—to better understand the differences in the workplace by generation, the impact age has on workplace happiness, and feelings about a potential four-day workweek, among other things.

Major Generational Differences in Workplace Satisfaction

The survey revealed that, perhaps surprisingly, Millennials are the happiest generation at work, with 57 percent of them saying they’re very happy on the job. On the other hand, Gen-Zers are the least happy at work, with just 22 percent sharing the news that they’re very happy while at work.

As for work-life balance, the survey found that 69 percent of Gen-Zers said they’re unsatisfied with their work-life balance—the lowest satisfaction rate of all generations—followed by Baby Boomers (63 percent), Gen X (55 percent), and Millennials (48 percent), who are the most satisfied with work-life balance. 

Do Workers Like or Dislike Remote Work?

When it comes to remote work, it’s clear form the survey data that younger workers prefer remote work. In fact, 68 percent of Millennials are happier working remotely, while Baby Boomers are the least happy with remote work (37 percent). And of those workers who were afforded the opportunity to work remotely, just 9 percent said they’re less engaged and satisfied when working remotely—so, clearly, engagement and satisfaction while working remotely isn’t issue for most.

Another major point to come from the study included the much-talked-about four-day workweek. The survey uncovered that, perhaps unsurprisingly, 83 percent of all full-time workers surveyed would prefer a four-day workweek if given the opportunity. Most in favor of the shortened week are Millennials (90 percent), while Gen Z is least in favor of fewer days of work (76 percent).

As for compensation, all generations are unhappy, and Millennials are the unhappiest. Just 30 percent of Baby Boomers are completely happy with their pay, followed by Gen Z (32 percent), Gen X (42 percent), and Millennials (47 percent). 

The Takeaways for Younger and Older Generations

For the first time in a long time, the American workforce is filled with four different generations all collaborating at work together. Having such a huge mix of age groups at work offers great opportunities for companies and employee alike. For companies, different perspectives, life experiences, and communication styles can all feed into the creative mix and boost productivity. Meanwhile, diversity with respect to age offers both seasoned executives and new employees opportunities to benefit from each other and learn from each other—about how each measures personal and career success, about how each approach growth and development, etc.

And with the data from this new study in mind, it’s important for both older and younger generations to remember that not everyone views the workplace from the same perspective (of course, even people of the same generation will have different views). Understanding the thoughts and feelings of different generations can help individuals of all generations create better working environments and better personal relationships on the job. Which translates into happier employees, more productive teams, and more profitable companies.

Sara Korolevich is Director of Content at GoodHire, a company that provides a flexible and efficient solution to complex background checks.

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