Fairness and equity are at the heart of the Gen Z value system, as the generation strives to spend time in meaningful ways.
Gen Z is a unique cohort that compromises far less than its predecessors, with corporations struggling to adapt. Fairness and equity are at the heart of the Gen Z value system and individuals are eager to encourage diversity, correct wrongdoings and to make sure their time is spent in meaningful ways.
They have been inspired by easy access to inspirational global success stories to believe it’s possible to make a living as a content creator in some way. They’ve been able to read such accounts with just a click of a button since they were teens (we millennials had to rely on magazines – take a bow Wallpaper*, Dazed & Confused and other iconic Y2K publications).
But this digital transformation has been a double-edged sword. ‘Zoomers’ were enamoured by seeing content creators doing what they love and earning a living in this way. Discovery, determination and monetisation were at the heart of these uplifting success stories. In contrast, they’ve witnessed their parents pulling double-shifts, juggling multiple jobs and exhaustedly slumping on the sofa to watch a streaming show. It’s not a great advert for the world of modern working.
So, labelling Gen Z as ‘anti-work’, as some do, is somewhat unfair. Rather, zoomers are anti-meaningless work. They admire the energy of hustling – provided it is done in a rewarding way that doesn’t impact their psychological safety. What they see in the world of work is leading them to question what they really want, and to believe being a content creator can deliver the fulfilment they crave.
Behavioural biases for Gen Z
At Behave, we get to the bottom of behaviours. Through my observations and analysis, I believe there are six subconscious biases that are shaping Gen Z disenchantment with traditional employment and fuelling individual motivation to be a creator, and I will expand on each one of them. Understanding the behavioural factors that shape them will help in further connecting, and even empathising, with this generation’s ways of seeing the world.
Illusion of Explanatory Dept
Digital transformation and the algorithmic, curated information flow has shaped Gen Z’s hearts and minds. The Illusion of Explanatory Depth means that people think they understand the world, subjects and topics better than they actually do. The proliferation of modern platforms and ‘educators’ has shaped Gen Z’s perception of work and making money.
Some believe they can follow the hustle dream via content creation. Those subject to the behavioural bias of Gambler’s Fallacy have seen people succeed as content creators – for example, maybe sharing fashion tips, cooking advice or financial advice – and think they can replicate these triumphs. They know the tech tools are available to let them create from anywhere and to avoid the pressures of working for toxic environments in industries deemed as difficult for side-hustles, such as hospitality.
But being a content creator, however, is harder than it looks. Content creation requires more time, energy, topic specialism and uncertainty acceptance and being open to criticism compared to a regular job. The Hard-Easy effect bias sees people demonstrate a confidence that is disproportionate to the difficulty of the task at hand. Gen Z’s confidence around content creation stems from the perceived ease of social media in their everyday lives. Content creation and the Hard-Easy Effect are closely interrelated for the zoomers. And we can add the impact of the pandemic, which developed perceived ease from further “accessibility” to create from home and reduced expectations of locating in a traditional workplace.
Gen Z expects to be heard thanks to the availability and ease of use of social channels and they are reluctant to be put in a box where their individual voice isn’t heard. They would rather be engaged in purposeful pursuits and want to share their ideas, values and beliefs. However, The Spotlight Effect means people think they stand out more than they actually do, a bias reinforced by having a heavy social presence and follower base. Gen Zers already have a social footprint and this leads them to overestimate their influence and ability to capitalise on it.
Societal and economic changes alongside decreasing salaries across the board, are increasingly leading Gen Z to ask what’s the point of striving for a reputable degree from a top-tier university? It doesn’t automatically guarantee a good job or a good lifestyle. Reward through hard work is harder to reach for this generation than ever before. This is where the Self-Serving bias comes into play. People blame external factors for negative elements in their life and revert to those things they believe give them some control. Enter social media.
The final bias, which also brings it all together. As relief from the current turbulent landscape (which they often blame their mindset on), zoomers now use content creation as a means to publicly create relevancy with their generation. For example, relaying anecdotes about working in corporate environments with their communities help them relate with each other and escape the day-to-day. There are even Gen Z trends on TikTok around how “boring” Millennials can be at work! This then drives a set of viral trends, through a bias known as the Bandwagon Effect – popular opinions tend to be adopted and then reinforced by a group as a norm, especially when the attitude is carried with strong emotions, like humour.
These six biases sit at the core of Gen Z’s drive and inherent need to adopt, participate, and monetize content creation. They see it not only as a side hustle, but as an eventual full-time job – for the lucky few.
Get Gen Z excited about the workplace
This starts with setting a better culture and developing a safe space that encourages the Gen Z will to create and change norms.. And current leaders have to acknowledge they don’t know it all and have plenty to learn themselves.
Zoomers need to be given more input into topics and training them up towards a corporate spotlight/corporate footprint will bring them closer to employee satisfaction and also avoid the revolt they can have against certain perceived challenging industries.
Content creation as a side hustle doesn’t need to stop; it’s more likely that its role will continue to grow but more as a part-time job than full-time as full-time content creation isn’t assured to millions. As it’s inevitable Gen Z will keep entering into the workforce, industries and companies need to listen to them and implement improved values.
Demonstrated by the six biases, there is behavioural and scientific rigour behind thoughts and actions. Empathise, study the factors that shape Gen Z and stay open to different views of the world based on generational exposure, perception and expectations; in order to effect change on a corporate level.
To understand more about Gen Z behaviouras, get in touch with the Behave Team.
This article was originally written by our Senior Behavioural Consultant & Scientist Lea Karam, and was originally published in Creative Salon.