We’ve all seen the Gen Z videos on social media, where the resounding sentiment has been this new generation’s dislike of the 9-5 working culture. In this article, I’ll tell you why, as a seasoned veteran in the corporate world – some of it is actually worth listening to.
(Watch the video version of this article here: YouTube Link)
I’m sure we’ve all seen these Gen Z videos on social media, where the resounding sentiment has been this new generation’s dislike of the 9-5 working culture.
Now, as an older millennial, actually, as someone that’s on the border of Gen X, the amount of change I’ve seen in the landscape of corporate working culture over the last 20 years, has just been astonishing.
I grew up in a time where company management sternly laid out all the terms of employment upon hire, with very little emphasis on anything that didn’t drive high performance.
And back then, it was an environment where doing 110% of your job was just the baseline for continued employment and in order to get ahead, you really had to hustle and significantly outwork your peers – in addition to expertly managing-up and navigating the political landscape of your organization.
And it was all done in person – 5 days a week for roughly 45-46 weeks a year, give or take a week or two depending how generous your company’s vacation and sick time policies were.
And in many cases – most of what I just described are still true, but the sentiment and attitude of the 9-5 work culture, really seems to have changed with this incoming tide of Gen Z workers.
We’re seeing a shift in this new generation – where our current work culture norms are being revisited, and re-evaluated from the perspective of personal fulfillment and satisfaction.
And while some of this can be attributed to entitlement and a bit of narcissism, and perhaps even just a bit of naive ignorance on what it really takes to succeed in the work force – to be honest, there is also some merit to what Gen Z is saying here.
So, in this article, I’ll go over the hidden truths about the paradigm shift in our work culture spurred on by Gen Z, and I’ll tell you why, as a seasoned veteran in the corporate world – some of it is worth listening to.
Back in the late 1930s, the US was coming off the the heels of the Great Depression, where just about 1 in 4 Americans were unemployed. Jobs were limited, discretionary spending was virtually non-existent and infrastructure across the country was in a state of rebuilding. So as you can image, while the quality of the available jobs wasn’t that great, in that era, most people were simply thankful, to have a job at all.
This period of hardship gave rise to a working culture – where the theme was all about simply keeping your head down, doing whatever it took to secure your 9-5 office job and working hard to make sure you can provide for your family. There wasn’t a lot of talk about work life balance or mental health in this day and age – rather it was all about survival.
And growing up in this period were the Boomers, and so they all developed into adults with this inherent mindset of grinding hard and doing whatever it takes to secure and maintain a job – no matter how tough the situation may be.
Next, came Gen X, who were raised by the Boomers who instilled within them, this same type of work ethic and work culture. At this time, the US economy was starting to improve, but it still wasn’t easy, so having this type mental model around working life – was appropriate.
Then in the early 1980s, the Millennials were born, and this was the start of a growing economic time in the country. This era in our history was the start of the technology age, where you had the recent inception of companies like Microsoft, Apple’s continued progress with the release of their first Macintosh personal computer, and the world wide web just started to become a thing.
And all throughout this era as well – we had this working mentality of giving everything you had to your career – but the difference now, was that it wasn’t just about surviving, but rather improving and enhancing the quality of your life. The job market was expanding and there were more opportunities for advancement – and the work ethic that we cultivated before, was now being redirected to chase prosperity and financial success.
And finally, that brings us to present day, with Gen Z. Now, it’s important to note that the last 20 years or so have been relatively comfortable compared to the conditions that the Boomer generation grew up in. There’s been significant technological advancements during this time and the US economy has been on the rise.
And due to this, Gen Z, has relatively had very comfortable lives, in general – and we’re seeing this new generation start to wonder why, we still in this day and age, need to work our long and hard 9-5 office jobs and sacrifice as much as we did in the past, in order to make a living.
The old underlying work ethic and perspectives we’ve had in terms of the working culture, seem less and less relevant to the more comfortable living environment we’re in now. And therefore, it seems that focus for this generation, is geared towards more fulfilment and life satisfaction, than generations past.
So we went from survival mode, to improve quality of life mode, to now finding personal fulfillment mode.
And this makes sense because, as American psychologist Abraham Maslow explained in his theory of the Hierarchy of Needs, the ultimate goal of humans is self-actualization and finding personal purpose and fulfillment – which can only happen after the stairsteps of these basic needs are met. When you have your physical needs covered, safety, belonging and self esteem met, then you begin to understand your potential and strive towards higher quality in your life experiences.
So, for me, while I grew up in an era that was all about hard work and sacrificing your personal life for your career, I’m starting to realize that the concept of finding fulfillment and satisfaction in your life rather than pouring your entire life into your 9-5 job, actually makes sense.
Now if you happen to enjoy your office job and are fulfilled in doing it – then by all means, of course, continue forward – but if you’re not…. then if you take a step back and really think about the lifecycle of a typical corporate career, it actually doesn’t make sense.
I mean, think about… for those of us that have office jobs – why do we spend the most valuable 30-40 prime years of our lives sitting in an office sacrificing and juggling our time with our families and our passion pursuits… only to retire when we are 60 or 70 years of age, to have free time when we are old and feeble? It seems kind of backwards, doesn’t it?
It should be that we enjoy our time now with friends and family, pursuing our passion projects while we are younger and able – and ultimately work an office job when we are old.
Now this would be the ideal case, but of course, we all know why this isn’t the norm.
We obviously need income to survive and there is some correlation to youth and inexperience and the lower amount of money you can earn – so unless you’re a trust fund baby or a family member of a celebrity, it’s very likely that you need to work hard in a 9-5 job for many years, in order to earn enough money and have accumulated enough wealth to buy yourself the time & freedom needed to escape working, during the prime years of your life.
But there is good news.
In this digital age, there are actually many alternatives to the traditional 40 year career of corporate life which you can explore. And here they are.
First, you can look for part-time or fully remote work that may give you the flexibility you need, to focus more on your personal life, than a typical 9-5 office job. Now, I know the trend lately is that more and more companies are mandating return to work, so fully remote roles are fewer with more competition, but it is still possible to land a fully work from home job – if you try long & hard enough.
The other option is to become an entrepreneur or a content creator and build a stream of income based on digital traffic and influence. If you start your own business and have a product or service that drives a lot of demand, or if you produce engaging content and garner tens of thousands of online sessions a month, it’s very easy to monetize that traffic, as long as you continue to drive interest and viewership from your audience.
The last method of escaping your 9-5 is to actually to double down on your regular office job, earn as much money as you can, as quickly as you can, and manage your income & invest wisely to accelerate your financial freedom. Essentially, work immensely hard now, to retire early.
In this past article, I outlined how someone could do this by making around $50,000 a year and efficiently managing their finances, to accumulate over $1M dollars within a period of 30 years of working. But this was a modest calculation based on moderate salary increases throughout those years, so it can actually be done much sooner than those 30 years, if you work hard and are very prudent with your money.
So all in all, I guess the point I’m making here is that, we are currently living in a relatively comfortable era, where opportunities are plentiful – so we have the luxury of searching for true purpose and fulfillment in our work.
So for those of you, out there, if you aren’t finding that in your current 9-5 job, as it seems a good number of Gen Z workers aren’t, you should go and explore what it takes for you to find something that will satisfy you.
Especially if you are a relatively young person in this thought process – don’t be afraid to take a risk and bet on yourself, if you’ve found something you want to pursue, that isn’t your current 9-5.
It may not always work out, but at least you’ll know that you’ve given it a shot – and you won’t be filled with the wonder of “what if I had tried…”
Life is too short – to be doing something you don’t like for 40-50 years, or to be living with a stack of regrets.
**** Disclaimer *****
The content here is strictly the opinion of Daniel’s Brew and is for entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered professional financial, investment or career advice. Investing and career decisions are personal choices that each individual must make for themselves in accordance with their situation and long term plans. Daniel’s Brew will not be held liable for any outcome as a result of anyone following the opinions provided in this content.