The last two years have been a challenge for everyone, but spare a thought for the Coronavirus class of 2020-21.
With the global pandemic having a volatile impact on economies the world over, the workforce Gen Zs are entering echoes disturbingly the one Millennials graduated into off the back of the 2008 global financial crisis.
“I was confident at the beginning of the year, but after this year I really don’t know anymore,” an 18-year-old male from Victoria said.
“I’m honestly terrified at what is ahead. I’m already unemployed, losing my job during the lockdown periods here in Victoria. I feel like next year and the next few years to come will be the hardest years to find employment after uni and that’s worrying for me.”
They’re not alone.
In our Coronavirus & the Class of 2020 report into how the pandemic upended Year 12 and their futures, 80% of Gen Zs said they were worried that it would be harder to find or maintain a job after they finish school.
But ever the entrepreneurs, many Gen Zs haven’t taken this depressing outlook lying down.
Instead, they’ve taken on the gig economy and are hustling for their post-COVID futures.
YouGov recently found Zoomers are leading the charge of Australia’s ‘flexible economy’, reporting that 42% of Gen Zs have made money on freelance platforms such as Fiverr, Upwork, or Airtasker in the past year.
“Covid has shown how it’s important to have multiple streams of income, since you could lose your job at any time,” 21-year-old Emilie Pomeroy told Savings.com.au.
“So freelance platforms like Fiverr are great as they allow you to easily build up a side hustle and extra income stream on the side. I think a lot of young Australians are financially savvy and want to build up multiple streams of income.”
What is hustle culture?
Have a quick scroll through Instagram or Tik Tok and you’ll quickly find enthusiastic Gen Zs explaining how they’re monetising themselves or earning money through side projects – from dog walking and social media content or remote consulting gigs and selling vintage clothing.
Of course, there are many benefits.
Gen Zs are learning invaluable professional (and life) skills that’ll serve them long-term, discovering exciting new careers, and of course, making some cash.
But the extreme culture of performative workaholism that’s common with ‘hustle culture’ – where overworking is considered ‘cool’ or something to aspire to – can be dangerous.
Working relentlessly and continuously can lead to burnout, anxiety, and panic attacks. And according to our Gen Z Wellbeing Check report, 60% of young people entering today’s workforce admitted that burnout was already negatively impacting their wellbeing.
“I’m always worrying about getting work done rather than spending time with friends relaxing and having a break,” a 16-year-old female from South Australia told us.
“It is quite hard to find time to relax, and I tend to burnout if I’m not careful, which then puts me behind on all my work.”
As can be seen, Gen Zs are getting a rough start in a very delicate stage of their life. But let’s not let them use it as a reason to burn themselves out at such a young age.