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With over 25 years of experience in the media industry at companies, such as Condé Nast, Lionsgate, CBS, Viacom, Discovery and Hasbro, Joanna Dodd Massey, Ph.D., MBA is an experienced C-level communications executive and Board Director. She has managed brand reputation, corporate turnaround, crisis communications and culture transformation. Currently, she serves as a consultant, who advises clients on communicating with Millennial and Gen Z employees, consumers, and investors. She is a corporate speaker and trainer, as well as author of the upcoming book, “Culture Shock: Surviving Five Generations in One Workplace” (in stores on May 19, 2020).
The Great Recession of 2008 affected all of us, but if you want to understand why young adults have no interest in jobs in Corporate America, you need look no further than how old they were when the Recession hit.
Older Millennials had just entered the workforce or were in college looking for full-time work in 2008. Meanwhile, the oldest Gen Zers were in junior-high school and watched their parents and older siblings struggle through the recession.
In both cases, these younger generations learned two key lessons. First, Corporate America should not be depended upon for job security. Second, the stock market is the real-life version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World.
The results are predictable now that we are all living them:
1) At this stage of their lifecycle, many Millennials are financially behind previous generations. Many still depend on their parents or grandparents for help.2) A lot of Millennials and Gen Zers prefer the gig economy to office jobs. Freelance work gives them the freedom they want to balance their professional lives with their personal goals.3) Neither generation trusts the stock market. Many would sooner invest in a friend’s startup or put their money under a mattress.
To put their situation into perspective, we are talking about two generations that experienced a global economic crisis just as they were seriously considering what they want to be when they grow up. At the same time, the federal government lowered interest rates to historic lows in order to juice the economy, which made their mattress—or piggybank—as good of an investment method as a savings account.
And who can blame them? This is a perfectly rational response to a long and painful recession, which happened when they were at very impressionable stages as children, teens and young adults.