The Missing Leaders: Generation Z’s Struggle with Work-Life Balance


According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Z is the most diverse and technologically savvy generation to date. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is characterized by its independence, social consciousness, and desire for work-life balance. However, as more and more professionals prioritize leisure time over career advancement, there is a growing concern about the future leadership gap in the workforce.

A recent study by Visier, a human analysis and workforce planning software, found that 91% of independent workers do not aspire to become people managers due to stress, pressure, or job satisfaction issues. In a survey of 1,000 full-time US workers conducted in August 2023, it was revealed that career-related priorities ranked fourth among employees, with spending time with family and friends, physical and mental health, and travel taking precedence.

Executive coach Milena Brentan believes that the challenges brought about by the pandemic have reshaped society’s ambitions, with new generations reflecting changing job market trends. As a result, the desire for meaningful experiences, flexibility, and a healthy workplace has become more important than climbing the corporate ladder for many young professionals. This shift in priorities is particularly evident among Generation Z, who value work-life balance and quality of life above traditional markers of success.

However, while many Gen Z workers express a desire to take on leadership roles, there is a noticeable lack of confidence in their abilities. The Visier study revealed that 55% of Generation Z respondents want to become people managers at their organization, but fear of failure or inadequate leadership skills may prevent them from pursuing these roles. This insecurity could exacerbate the growing leadership gap in the job market, as younger professionals hesitate to take on management responsibilities.

To address this issue, businesses must adapt to the changing priorities and values of the upcoming generations. Luciana Carvalho, CEO of Chiefs.Group, emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive work environment that accommodates the needs and aspirations of Gen Z workers. By offering opportunities for professional development, mentorship programs, and flexibility in the workplace, organizations can help nurture the next generation of leaders and bridge the leadership gap.

Overall, it is clear that the workforce dynamics are shifting, and traditional notions of career advancement and leadership may no longer hold the same appeal for younger professionals. As Generation Z enters the job market with a focus on work-life balance and meaningful experiences, it is essential for businesses to adapt their practices and policies to accommodate these changing values. By investing in the development and empowerment of the next generation of leaders, organizations can ensure a smooth transition and a bright future for their workforce.