Microsoft finds that Gen Z is redefining the idea of ​​workplace hustle

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For decades, Microsoft has been associated with a traditional definition of office work, long hours in front of a computer, but now the corporate giant is finding Gen Z entrepreneurs disrupting ideas about the hustle and bustle of the workplace. and the traditional 9-5 days. Many recent Gen Z college graduates are reversing the career paradigm and pursuing entrepreneurship rather than entering the corporate world.

“We’ve seen a lot of reimagining during the pandemic and a lot of digital transformation, which I think has really propelled what we see as a bit of an entrepreneurial boom,” says Travis Walter, vice president of sales. retail at Microsoft Store. According to data from WP Engine and the Center for Generational Kinetics, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Gen Zers indicated that they had started or were planning to start their own business. Meanwhile, in 2021 alone, 5.4 million Americans submitted applications to start their own business, according to government data.

The traditional idea of ​​“hustle culture” has evolved over the years, and while the grind of Gen Z is slightly different from that of Millennials, that doesn’t mean they do less work. . Instead, these entrepreneurs wear many hats with flexible work hours, working holidays, and a greater regard for personal time. According to Microsoft’s survey, conducted by Wakefield Research of 1,000 small business owners with fewer than 25 employees, nearly half of Gen Z, or about 48%, have a lot of hustles, compared to 34% of Gen Z owners. small enterprises. Many of these ventures overlap with the rise of social media marketing. Entrepreneurs who use TikTok for their business (48%) are almost twice as likely to have multiple side hustles as those who don’t (27%), according to Microsoft data.

“I think it’s important to let people work the way they need to work, because then they can do their best work, as we see with entrepreneurs and Gen Z,” Walter said.

Microsoft data shows that 91% of Gen Z entrepreneurs work unconventional hours; 81% say they work while on vacation, compared to 62% of all business owners.

“What do I really want to do?” is a question asked more frequently, according to Philip Gaskin, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “It’s some of that Gen Z energy,” he said.

Gen Z graduates are entering the workforce during the pandemic time of “rediscovery,” Gaskin said, a reassessment of personal and professional goals by many Americans across generations. Some people who may have been bored with their corporate jobs or felt overwhelmed at some point in their lives, have had time to pause and re-evaluate. Many people who saw an opportunity seized it during the pandemic, often with new technological ideas. The boom in new business creation is not always a rosy scenario. In some cases, it is a necessity function, according to Kauffman’s analysis, with people who have lost their jobs needing new forms of income.

This change is correlated with a rate of new entrepreneurs that has been increasing for several years, with 2020 posting the highest peak of all, according to data from the Kauffman Foundation. And that has big implications for the labor market. “Most of the jobs created in the past five years have been provided by companies less than five years old,” Gaskin said.

Gen-Z also leans more towards the path of entrepreneurship rather than getting involved in corporate America right out of college, as many see it as a way to speed up their retirement. About 61% of Gen Z small business owners think they will be able to retire sooner than if they had gotten a corporate job, compared to 40% of all small business owners who share this view, according to the Microsoft investigation. Within the wider small business community, amassing retirement savings through investment vehicles has always been a challenge and much of their income has gone directly back into the business, raising concerns. about the financial security of entrepreneurs.

Gen Z entrepreneur focused on mission and problem solving

Ritwik Pavan, a Gen Z entrepreneur, has already started several businesses.

“I’ve been on the entrepreneurial journey since high school and always wanted to build something because I’ve always had a problem-solving mindset,” Pavan said.

The big idea that came to him after working in various technology niches, including application development, since university, is urban mobility.

With co-founders Matthew Schaefer and Christian Burke, he launched Vade in 2018, which helps reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions by providing real-time parking data to citizens.

Left to right: Ritwik Pavan (COO), Christian Burke (CTO) and Matty Schaefer (CEO) of Vade discuss business plans.

Source: Vade

“I help all these people solve problems and develop their ideas, but I would like to find something that I’m passionate about and for me that problem was parking,” Pavan said. “The best part of being an entrepreneur is that we’re very mission-driven and believe what we’re going to do is going to change lives for the better and help cities become better places to live,” he said. he declares.

According to the Microsoft survey, about 88% of all small business owners who prioritize social good say it has helped their business grow, including 82% of Gen Z respondents.

Pavan is an example of how workplace unrest has changed. His favorite thing about being a small business owner is the flexibility that comes with the job, but that doesn’t mean he works fewer hours than a business owner like Jamie. Dimon or Elon Musk doesn’t require it.

“The truth is that as a founder, for the first three years, my colleagues and I worked 18 hour days, even 20 hour days, even now sometimes,” Pavan said.

But being able to make decisions for your own business, he says, makes the long hours worthwhile, even if it also means being responsible for the bad ones. According to data from Microsoft, many Gen Z entrepreneurs begin this decision-making, like Pavan, before college, and many do not consider a degree essential to their success: 78% of Gen Z entrepreneurs say a college education is “not very necessary” for them to run a business.

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