1. Home
  2. policy
  3. economy
  4. news
  5. Gen Zers have barely joined the workforce, and a quarter of them are already plotting to get out as soon as possible

Gen Zers have barely joined the workforce, and a quarter of them are already plotting to get out as soon as possible

Hillary Hoffower   

Gen Zers have barely joined the workforce, and a quarter of them are already plotting to get out as soon as possible
  • A quarter of Gen Zers plan to retire by age 55, per a new Goldman Sachs survey.
  • They'd be joining the FIRE movement, short for financial independence/retire early.

Barely in the workforce, a lot of Gen Z is already planning to ditch the rat race.

A quarter of the generation said they intend to retire before the age of 55 in a new survey by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. They've got their sights set on FIRE, which is short for financial independence/retire early.

This community of early retirees has picked up steam since the concept was first popularized by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez in their 20-year-old book "Your Money or Your Life." Millennials (and some Gen Xers) increasingly became interested in the movement in the 2010s, with some becoming so frugal that they lived off rice and beans to sock away enough cash to retire within three years.

It only makes sense that the next generation would continue the trend, especially in a pandemic world where remote work opened up a new door to flexibility and freedom for workers. Once some got a taste of it, they wanted to take a full bite, and Gen Z is leading the way.

The pandemic turned the youngest generation's lives upside down during an impressionable time, Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president at Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and author of "You Raised Us, Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams," previously told Insider. Remote work gave them the upper hand in amplifying demands for workplace autonomy, she added.

"They had so much taken away from them in terms of access, you can go on and on with what has been lost," Rikleen said. "That reframes your thinking ... you start to think about what's important to you and how to express [that]."

They began by confidently and assertively demanding a better work-life balance, questioning pre-pandemic workplace norms like eight-hour shifts or lack of progressive values. This all comes at the chagrin of the millennial managers, wrote The New York Times' Emma Goldberg, whose careers have always seen overworked and structured days.

It's part of what Erika Rodriguez called a "slow-up" in a recent opinion piece for the Guardian, as she advocated for an intentional slowdown in productivity with the aim of greater separation from work such as taking unofficial breaks or responding to emails only on select weekdays.

If that doesn't fly in a workplace, Gen Z has so far had no qualms about quitting their crappy jobs in favor of a better one, heading the charge in what LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky has called a "Great Reshuffle." Others still are quitting their jobs in favor of no job at all.

As Insider's Juliana Kaplan reported, the generation is bolstering an "antiwork" movement in which people are embracing a work-free lifestyle. It's similar to youth-led movements against work in other countries like China, where youn people are "lying flat," prioritizing relaxation over workplace productivity and competition.

The Gen Zers planning to retire early may not be planning to quit immediately. But by already planning to join the FIRE movement, they might make what's currently alternative lifestyle community part of the new norm in the world of work — or lack thereof.


Popular Right Now