Most young people have experienced some type of snide remark from an older person about how our generation ‘doesn’t know what hard work is.’
Gaining a reputation for job-hopping and quiet quitting, the young people of today admittedly have a different perspective to work and life generally. The question is: are we really less hard-working or have young people had enough of trying to navigate a relentlessly unstable financial climate?
Then v Now
Times have changed drastically when it comes to housing prices and the cost of living. Older generations tend to omit this fact in their rants about how the youth of today simply do not work hard enough. A now-notorious example of this type of privilege is when British television presenter, Kirstie Allsopp, made some sweeping statements about young people in the UK struggling to buy their own property.
In her comments, she said that she felt ‘enraged’ by young people complaining about the housing crisis whilst failing to give up luxuries such as gym memberships or consider moving to the North of England where the cost of living is substantially cheaper.
These comments themselves caused outrage with many people pointing out that the South of England offers higher salaries, as well as more job opportunities, often tying people to living in this area. Additionally, with the average price of a gym membership in the UK being around £40 a month, it seems far-fetched to suggest that such a payment is preventing young people from affording housing. Exercise is also more than a luxury, but is conducive to mental health, particularly at a time of such uncertainty for many people.
Best known for her role presenting the popular show ‘Location, Location, Location’, Kirstie has undeniably made a successful career for herself. However, the presenter bought her first home in the UK at age 21 with the help of her parents while the average house price was £51,000. In 2023, the average price of a home in the UK stands at £288,000. The higher prices also require extortionate deposits, making it difficult for first-time buyers to live within their means and save enough and get on the ladder.
Since 1980, property prices have risen around 7% each year. House prices are not faring much better in the US, with the average price jumping from $230,000 to $330,000 just between 2020 and now.
Are ‘The Woke Generation’ Just Not Working Hard Enough?
Younger generations and Gen Z, in particular, are used to boomers rolling their eyes as they refer to ‘the woke generation’. Overly sensitive. Dramatic. Naïve, and oblivious to the harsh realities of life.
While the young people of today have grown up in a world much safer in some ways than in previous generations, it does not mean they are unaffected by the problems of today: the lingering effects of the pandemic and trying to build their careers during a recession. This ‘wokeness’ perhaps reflects a higher tolerance for different kinds of people in an ever-changing and increasingly inclusive world. However, these stereotypes about young people seem to be driving the notion that they are less hard-working and even, less deserving of affordable housing.
Some of these stereotypes come from the fact that young people are not staying in jobs for as long as previous generations. More than 40% of boomers have stayed in a job for more than 20 years. Meanwhile, Gen Z typically stays in a role for just over two years. This disparity is likely due to job-hopping being a proven and often superior way of boosting salaries with many employers paying below industry standards.
Another cultural shift is that younger people have grown up with technology, making them more efficient in the world of work. This means that in many industries, people are able to complete their entire working day in just a couple of hours. With many workplaces refusing to evolve with the times, demanding long working days, and not offering flexible working, people are turning to companies that are prepared to suit these needs. In a world where getting on the property ladder is difficult to the point of being unfeasible, many younger people are simply opting to prioritize work-to-life balance rather than compromising their entire lives and well-being for work.