Why Gen Z is most worried about job security

Rapidly developing technology and a struggling economy and planting fears in the minds of younger workers.

Rapidly developing technology and a struggling economy and planting fears in the minds of younger workers. Photo: Getty

More than a quarter of Australians don’t feel secure in their jobs, and Gen Z appears to be bearing the brunt of the concerns, research shows.

An ADP Research Institute report found 30 per cent of Australian Gen Z (defined as 18 to 24 years old) said they don’t feel secure in their jobs, compared to 18 per cent of Australian employees aged over 55.

People working in the IT, telecommunications and media sectors felt the highest level of job insecurity.

Overall, more than half of Australian workers don’t think any profession will be left unscathed by the current economic uncertainty, with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) also feared to affect roles in the future.

ADP managing director ANZ Kylie Baullo said it’s not surprising that many workers are feeling concerned, given the cost-of-living crisis and uncertain economic landscape.

But she said many companies are still focused on attracting, and retaining, employees.

Employers must play part

“Employers have a role to play in addressing workers’ concerns about job security,” Baullo said.

“Showing employees they are valued and that their contributions are recognised through training, career progression opportunities, as well as highlighting the positive outlook for the company.

“No two companies are the same. Employers need to have frequent and open conversations with their workers to address any misconceptions and ease unnecessary concerns.”

She said if employers fail to address employees’ job security concerns, they risk losing “valuable talent, experience and expertise from their teams”.

“By reassuring workers that their jobs are secure where that’s the case, and highlighting opportunities for growth and development, employers can create a positive workplace culture that helps workers to focus on their job without worrying about the future,” she said.

“This, in turn, can help retain vital skills and experience.”

Despite fears over what the growth of AI could mean for job stability, experts previously told TND only the people who don’t learn to work with the technology will be left behind.

Nicholas Holland, HubSpot vice-president of product and general manager of marketing, said change was natural, and adaptation was an extension of that.

“It’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but if you started at a company today, [in] 2023, and they told you to work on a typewriter and mail all of your correspondence, that would be super weird,” he said.

“I think that’s where we are with AI, in that it really does a lot of nice things to make you more efficient. But you wouldn’t necessarily say that is going to replace jobs. It just means you have a whole bunch of new skills to learn.”

Pay woes

ADP’s research also found wage theft is still rife in Australia, as more than one in three employees reported being paid incorrectly or receiving incorrect payments at least some of the time.

Nationally, one in four respondents claimed to be doing up to 10 hours of unpaid work per week.

Workers in South Australia and New South Wales fared worst, with 42 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, working up to 15 unpaid hours per week.

In September, the McKell Institute estimated wage theft costs Australian workers about $850 million each year.

The gender pay gap also remains an issue, as 42 per cent of Australian told ADP their company had made no change in gender pay equality.

It remains to be seen whether legislation passed this year requiring companies with 100 or more employees to publish the incomes of their workers from early 2024 onward will make a substantial difference.

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