– Blog Authored by Ryan Hume, Intern at Qualigence International

“There’s no one to work these days!” Said every parent ever. Although these ghastly cries may seem whiny from my Gen Z perspective, there is truth to it. While older generations are beginning to enter retirement, younger generations are failing to take their place. In fact, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that labor participation in the year 2000 was as high as sixty seven percent, but by the year 2032, it will be as low as sixty percent. Indeed, the number of willing participants in the workforce is steadily decreasing – my parents were right, there really is no one to work these days… Dang it.

To be honest, who would want to work these days? Everything we need is at our fingertips. While older generations may have had nothing to fill their free time besides making an extra buck, us younger generations have constant access to everything we could have ever dreamed of. Instead of working for gas money to visit our friends, a quick FaceTime call does the trick. Instead of working to learn and gain experience, a quick YouTube video also does the trick. The justification for a side-gig has become slimmer by the minute. In order to retain and attract more of the younger generation, companies must learn to adapt their working environment and wages to better suit Gen Z and Millennials.

Lack of Flexibility

While employers may initially want to fight the changes technology is causing to industries across the board, I would suggest they reconsider. With technology becoming such a core aspect of society, an environment that lacks it will seem foreign to most. Especially with younger generations completing schooling online amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, or even with schools and colleges integrating their in-person curriculums online, the younger generations have learned to thrive on the internet independently. According to The National Center for Education and Statistics, in twenty-twenty-one, sixty percent of college students completed at least one course online.

To better transition students to workers, employers must consider the technological flexibility their work environment provides. Is there a remote option? Is the technology available up to date? What is the policy on technology use in the workplace? These are all valid questions employers should ask themselves, because potential employees will surely be asking them; and rather than viewing technology as a crutch, employers should view it as a tool to not only capture Gen Z and millennial workers, but to improve productivity. Technology is a win-win.

Inadequate Wages

It also must be considered that a lot of side gig type jobs that young Gen Z workers primarily fill up won’t have need for advanced technology, let alone remote work. So how else do employers attract and retain young workers? The answer is something many shy away from, in fact, I’m going to say a bad word… Are you ready? Minimum wage. The truth is, not all money is good money. There’s jobs out there where you can work your butt off and get $10 an hour, and others where you sit at a desk and get handed $15 an hour. At Menchies Frozen Yogurt, where I am the only team member scheduled on a given shift, with no manager to help, it’s a little disheartening to watch my peers receive $15 an hour, when I only get $10 an hour.

If I was not already a loyal employee, why would I work at Menchies if I could make $15 an hour somewhere else, or just stay home, play on my phone and ask my parents for money? There’s a basic trade off that occurs when choosing to work – you lose free time, including screen time. Really, if employers want to incentivize retention and employment, it’s going to cost a pretty penny. Wages may have to be raised above the minimum, depending on the state, because the wage better be worth the trade off.

All in All

While it may be difficult for employers to adapt to this ever-changing world, evolution is a basic trait that we all must contain in order to stay afloat. With the cutting-edge technological landscape we live in, it’s important for companies to stay synchronized with every update, and assure the best experience possible for its employees. If employers can’t offer technological advantages for a certain job, the pay better equalize the trade-off that will occur between being on the clock, and giving up screen time. Kids are not dumb, they know when a job is not worth their time – hence a teenager writing this.