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Young people would rather be unemployed than unhappy

Most of us would leave a job that interfered with our personal lives, and almost half would take unemployment over staying in a job that made us miserable

A new global study by consulting firm Randstad found that almost half of young people would take unemployment over staying in a job they didn’t like.

The research found that 56 per cent of Gen Z and 55 per cent of millennials said they would leave their job if it interfered with their personal lives, and almost half of them said they wouldn’t accept a job offer at a company that didn’t align with their views on social and environmental issues. Two in five also said they wouldn’t mind earning a lower salary if it meant they were purposefully contributing to society.

This is promising as it suggests workplace power dynamics are shifting. Essentially, employers who treat their young employees like dirt are on thin ice. “Our findings should serve as a wake-up call for employers. There’s a clear power shift underway as people rethink priorities,” Sander van 't Noordende, global CEO of Randstad, said in a statement.

“Young people want to bring their whole selves to work, which is reflected in their determination not to compromise their personal values when choosing an employer,” he continued. “Businesses need to rethink their approach to attracting and retaining staff, or face serious competition.”

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated our collective awareness of just how broken the current system is. Almost one in 20 workers in the UK resigned over the pandemic as part of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, with many of these resignations occurring within the leisure and hospitality industries where young people make up the majority of the workforce. Overworked, underpaid, and exposed to COVID-19 on the job? It’s no surprise that so many quit and are now re-evaluating what they want – and need – from a job. The pandemic has also demonstrated with painful clarity that life can be snatched away from you in an instant: and when you realise that life isn’t something you can take for granted, deciding to leave a thankless job with long hours and shit pay becomes a no-brainer.

The ball is now firmly in employers’ courts, and their choice is simple: treat workers better or lose their workers.