Can employers leverage their investment in ESG to attract talent when the talent cares more about money?
In a noticeable shift away from the energetic pursuits of ultimate frisbee games and Taylor Swift fan clubs typically associated with young people, the ambience at the university’s freshers’ fair politics tables has taken on a more subdued tone. According to an article in The Times, recent insights indicate that the current Generation Z in the UK is prioritising their personal financial wellbeing over engaging in radical politics or participating in what’s been dubbed the “culture wars.” Apathy seems to be on the rise.
So now we ask this of employers, who have often leveraged concepts like Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in their recruitment strategies, will now appeal to young talent with a stronger focus on their own economic security. Declan Slattery, Head of the Employer Programme and Chair of TALiNT Partners’ Global Advisory Board, said that in the midst of evolving economic and political landscapes, Generation Z is navigating a complex journey marked by disillusionment and disengagement.
He continued, “It’s unsurprising given the many distractions and considerations young people face for their time and the challenging life decisions they are having to make. It may also reflect the media they consume, which tends to focus on broader geopolitical issues. While it’s reasonable for employers to incorporate strategies like ESG into their attraction efforts, it underscores that these factors are not the sole determinants of job choices.”
It’s all politics
YouGov’s polling this summer has unveiled that individuals aged 18 to 24 are the least likely among various age groups to believe that the political party in power significantly affects their daily lives.
Stuart Fox, a Senior Lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter, remarks, “Many young people have lost faith in the current political system. Studies indicate that younger generations exhibit less enthusiasm for politics and are far less inclined to view voting as a civic duty.”
This disappointment might be rooted in the belief that political parties predominantly cater to older generations, while younger individuals grapple with economic challenges that their predecessors didn’t face at the same age. Concerns such as stable employment and affordable housing have left them uninspired by mainstream political offerings.
Contrary to prior expectations that issues like climate change and transgender rights would create stark generational divides, recent polls indicate that age groups are increasingly aligned on many of these concerns.
48% of young people in the UK felt satisfied with democracy upon reaching their thirties
A 2023 climate change insights report from the Office for National Statistics, based on a survey of over 4,000 respondents, reveals that young people are less concerned about the consequences of climate change compared to their parents and grandparents. This data challenges the notion of generational gaps on these issues.
In a YouGov survey from September, when asked about the most pressing issues facing the country today, 60% of 18-24-year-olds cited inflation and the cost of living, closely aligning with other age groups. The only significant disparity emerged in views on immigration and asylum, where 24% of young adults consider it a top issue compared to 51% of those over 65.
This data contradicts the stereotype of a young, radical culture warrior, as it portrays young people striving to excel in their studies and secure gainful employment during challenging economic times.
Economic pressure is on the rise, with a survey conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute in June revealing that over half of students, 55%, now work part-time to finance their education—a figure that has risen by 10% over the past year.
Tech and social media
Many believe that technology and social media have contributed to distancing Generation Z from politics. New technologies have made young people more focused on single issues and less engaged with electoral and parliamentary processes. For those who do vote, left-wing parties hold a stronger lead than ever, with a recent YouGov poll showing that 78% of 18-24-year-olds intend to vote for Labour, while 8% favour the Tories.
In terms of opinions about the media, significant generational divides are evident. Trust in the media remains consistent among those aged 25 to 49, 50 to 64, and older voters. However, only 41% of 18 to 24-year-olds trust the media to “tell the truth.”
A 2020 study by the Centre for the Future of Democracy at the University of Cambridge found that 48% of young people in the UK felt satisfied with democracy upon reaching their thirties, compared to 62% for the previous generation in the 1990s and 2000s. This trend is mirrored globally, with youth satisfaction with democracy seeing its sharpest decline, particularly in countries with high wealth inequality. In the midst of evolving economic and political landscapes, Generation Z finds itself navigating a complex journey filled with both disillusionment and disengagement.