The future of work: insights from Pacific Northwest’s Gen Z employees

Gen Z employees collaborate
The 2023 Gen Z Spotlight report takes a closer look at the priorities, perceptions, hopes, and expectations of Gen Z employees regarding their future in the Pacific Northwest workforce.

Gen Z employees in the Pacific Northwest are facing the dilemma of advancing their careers amidst predictions of an upcoming recession following the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s according to the third annual report by the WSU Carson College of Business surveying the youngest members of the workforce, known as Generation Z (ages 18-26), to understand their perspective. The 2023 Gen Z Spotlight report takes a closer look at the priorities, perceptions, hopes, and expectations of Gen Z employees regarding their future in the Pacific Northwest workforce. Some are demanding their employers invest in their future, while many others are considering exploring opportunities outside the PNW region. 

In 2022, business leaders in the Pacific Northwest were worried about rising prices, problems with supply chains, and the challenge of attracting and keeping a talented workforce. On the other hand, employees were focused on wanting higher salaries, a better balance between work and personal life, and positive company cultures. 

Key findings include:

  • Although Gen Z employees are currently optimistic about job opportunities, there is waning confidence that their generation will remain in the Pacific Northwest for the long term. Since the start of the pandemic, the number of Gen Z employees who believe their peers will remain in the region has declined. Only 12% of Gen Z employees think their generation is more likely to stay in the Pacific Northwest compared to previous generations (down from 25% in 2019).
  • Nearly 80% of Gen Z employees believe that the Pacific Northwest business climate has either leveled off or worsened in the last three years, compared to the period before COVID-19, when approximately 60% shared the same sentiment. Despite perceiving that the regional economy has stagnated or declined in recent years, they remain hopeful about the Pacific Northwest business climate in the near future.
  • While money is important, it’s not the sole driving factor for Gen Z employees seeking a second job or starting a side hustle. From building savings for the future to doing something that gives them a sense of purpose or simply combatting boredom, they have diverse motivations behind these pursuits.
  • Gen Z employees are increasingly worried about how labor shortages and employee turnover might hinder their own success and the success of their companies. Inflation and the possibility of a recession are identified as the biggest obstacles to future business success across all groups. Gen Z employees have seen a significant increase in the number of individuals who consider labor shortages and employee attrition as the major barriers to success compared to the previous year.

To explore the detailed findings of the report, visit the Gen Z Spotlight Report website.

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