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An inquiry into the fast-changing world of workAn inquiry into the fast-changing world of workAn inquiry into the fast-changing world of workAn inquiry into the fast-changing world of workAn inquiry into the fast-changing world of work

Generations Debate is a report, a collection of stories from 4 different generations and an event about the perception of work. A mix of quantitative and qualitative data that resulted in a multifaceted overview, just like a debate, where there is no right or wrong position. A current snapshot of the world of work and its generations.

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Intro

We wanted to understand the perception of work that people from different generations and backgrounds have of their past, present, and future career. We want to investigate the social phenomena behind boasted titles and accurately portray complexity.

It all started when we, at MAIZE, were reading yet another brand new report about the future of work and jobs and their changes in relation to younger generations. These reports show tons of numbers, but they rarely tell us something about the way people — older and younger — perceive the shifts that are happening in their job, in their relationship with the office, in what is expected from the modern workforce. It is always about an economic point of view —  but Generations Debate wants to be different.

Report

Each person is different, and each generation behaves differently. Nonetheless, some trends emerge from the numbers and tell us some interesting facts about the way people approach the world of work.

Methodology

We distributed the 30-question survey in 5 European Countries: Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.
Along with demographics selection criteria, we selected respondents who are currently in the workforce and are employed in an organization, either small or large, private or public. Since one of the goals of the survey was to gain insights from people part of a group, we excluded freelancers.

502
BABY BOOMERS (AGED 59-77)
510
GEN X (AGED 43-58)
503
GEN Y (AGED 27-42)
503
GEN Z (AGED 18-26)
Key learnings
Entrepreneurship
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It turns out that Gen Z is way more entrepreneurial than the previous generations. Could that be the effect of the creator economy?

Relationships
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Digital interaction enhances closeness between peers. Digital spaces become more and more a place for debate and getting information.

Erasmus experience
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The Erasmus program keeps being extremely relevant for all, and younger people go abroad more than ever.

Consciousness
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It is not just about finding a job, as one’s values drive the choice of an employer and an organization among all the different possibilities.

Permacrisis
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A state of constant crisis accelerates short-term behaviors: people move and change more frequently in search of an immediate wellbeing.

Work-life balance
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Work-life balance is the most important value across generations. The global experience of the pandemics could be the single factor that made all people agree on this.

Welfare
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Company welfare is becoming more and more important for younger generations, who may not be able to rely on public welfare as their predecessors have.

Physical office
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Even after the pandemics and the surge of remote work, offices remain relevant, even though they ought to become more functional.

Future changes
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Everyone knows that some big changes are coming in the world of work, but no one knows which ones. Surprisingly, very few people envision their work changing because of technology.

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    Stories

    8 people from 4 different generations come together to discuss their past, present and future in the world of work.

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    What we did

    We spent a day together with a sample of each generation, facilitating their conversation, exchange of thoughts and emotions. Sometimes they changed their minds as a result of what others said, sometimes they defended their ideas. But at all times, they told us a little about their lives. Thank you Alessandra, Alas, Silvio, Monica, Giovanna, and Maddalena.

    First session

    Our “corpigrafica” (bodygraphics) visually represents the participants’ work decisions. A group journey to retrace early choices after college, present professional habits, desires, and ambitions for the future. A physical experience of listening to oneself and others.

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    Work! Work! Work!

    The impact of passions, family dynamics, and financial considerations on the selection of one’s initial work experience.

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    Bittersweet beginnings

    Initial work challenges involve adapting to organizational language, overcoming insecurities, and realizing the distinctions between school and work.

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    Crazy like a Gen Zender

    Is the new generation freer to express itself? A dialogue on the spaces of autonomy and freedom of opinion within organizations.

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    Pandemic epiphanie

    Retrospective on the pandemic era: moments of joy and revelation for someone, intertwined with obstacles and a life that has undergone profound changes for others.

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    Vibes, tone, and misunderstandings

    Information exchange is getting faster and faster, but how many questions are hiding behind the “send message” button?

    Second session

    Famous quotes about work were used as the discussion went on. A strange wooden histogram to collect preferences. And then, the actual debate. How much do generations resemble each other? How do people’s stories influence our own?

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    What is the nature of work today?

    People are not merely made to do their work; people’s identity is more than just a professional role.

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    Working serves to change

    Transitioning between jobs can be exhausting, yet it is a catalyst for personal growth.

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    Will creativity save the future?

    The role of creativity in work is crucial; without it, the prospect of machines replacing us becomes a concern.

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    About happiness

    Exploring various paths and environments where happiness can be found in the world of work.

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    What in the world am I? My job? Or maybe not?

    Work reflects people’s personality, but people’s identity is much more than just work.

    Event

    Check out some of the highlights from our February event at BASE, Milan. Our panelists included Marta Luca (Senior Manager, D&I, SNAM), Roberto Battaglia (COO, AIRC Foundation), Maria Angela Lentini (HR Director, AstraZeneca), and Valeria Icardi (D&I Board Member, Barilla).

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