The traditional 9 to 5 is soul-sucking for Gen Z, study finds 

  • 60% of Gen Z say traditional 9 to 5 jobs are soul-sucking. 
  • More than a quarter (26%) of Gen Z say social media posts about people quitting their 9 to 5 jobs have motivated them to quit their corporate job. 
  • 36% of Gen Z are struggling to find a corporate job.

Generation Z is known for many things. They’re more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations, they’re digital natives, having grown up on social media platforms, they tend to be more progressive on key social issues, and they’re not afraid to challenge the status quo – especially when it comes to their careers and work-life balance. 

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma among Gen Z U.S. adults ages 18+, 60% say traditional 9 to 5 jobs are soul-sucking, with 43% saying they have no desire to work a traditional 9 to 5 job at all. Interestingly, many of those who have no desire to work a 9 to 5 still have early retirement plans on their radar with 57% saying they consider themselves to be part of the FIRE (Financially Independent, Retire Early) movement.  

Young Americans’ distaste for the traditional 9 to 5 job has driven some Gen Zers to consider making lifestyle changes that could enable them to ditch their 9 to 5 – some more drastic than others. Most commonly Gen Zers say they would cut back on non-essential spending like shopping and dining out (43%), work odd jobs to make ends meet (33%), move in with friends and family (23%), or rely on their partner for financial support (17%). Other, more financially consequential changes they’d be willing to make include taking on debt (14%), quitting their 9 to 5 without having a plan in place (13%) and draining their savings account or emergency fund (10%). 

Gen Z has no problem leaving traditional work perks on the table if it means pursuing their passions. Given the opportunity to work their dream job, Gen Zers say they’d be willing to sacrifice corporate stock or equity options (33%), work-life balance (31%) and a salary (24%). Some Gen Zers would even go as far as walking away from health insurance (23%) and retirement contributions (22%) if their dream job didn’t provide these things. 

What has Gen Z so sour on the traditional 9 to 5 job? 

Gen Zers’ rejection of the traditional 9 to 5 job could stem from various factors, ranging from experiences observed in their own lives or on social media. According to the study, nearly half (47%) of Gen Z say older generations’ obsession with work has made them rethink their career paths, while roughly a quarter (26%) say social media posts about people quitting their 9-5 jobs have motivated them to quit their own corporate jobs. Of those who have been swayed by social media content to quit their corporate jobs, 39% identify as part of the FIRE movement. 

Of Gen Zers who currently work a 9 to 5 job, 26% say they are unsatisfied with their job. Of those, nearly two thirds (65%) say they’re unsatisfied because they’re not paid enough. Of those who think they’re paid unfairly, 62% say they make six figures. Despite the fact that many Gen Zers with traditional 9 to 5 jobs make six figures (66%), 61% say their salaries haven’t kept pace with the cost of living. Women were 13% more likely than men to say they don’t believe their salaries have kept pace (67% v. 54% of men). 

In addition to pay dissatisfaction, Gen Z workers say their 9 to 5s have a negative impact on their mental health (49%) and many are unfulfilled by their work (47%). Others say they are dissatisfied with their 9 to 5 because they don’t have enough time to do anything else (41%), they see other people who are able to make a living outside of a traditional 9 to 5 (40%), it’s difficult for them to set boundaries around their work-life balance (33%), their values don’t align with their employer’s (26%) and they don’t like answering to anyone else (23%).

No matter their grievances, plenty of Gen Z recognize the financial stability that comes with having a 9 to 5 job. According to the study, 40% of Gen Zers with a 9 to 5 job say their salary and benefits outweigh their desire to pursue a less traditional career path. 

Yet, financial stability that comes from having a full-time job feels out of reach for many Gen Zers, especially those entering the job market right out of school. A challenging white collar job market has recent graduates struggling to even find a minimum wage job, let alone a corporate one. According to the study, more than one-third (36%) of Gen Z say they are struggling to find a corporate job right now. 

Gen Z “quiet quits” to cope with day job 

More than a quarter (29%) of Gen Z admit to quiet quitting. For the purpose of this study, quiet quitting is defined as doing the minimum requirements of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary. Interestingly, Gen Zers with an annual income (AI) of $100K+ were most likely to admit to quiet quitting (34%). That’s compared to 31% of respondents with an AI of $50-$99K and 27% of respondents with an AI of less than $50K. Worth noting, men were more likely to admit to quiet quitting than women, 32% compared to  26% of women. 

“So often, generations are treated as a monolith when identifying core characteristics and tendencies,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Intuit Credit Karma. “While there’s no one-size-fits-all interpretation of Gen Z’s attitudes toward work culture, there’s no denying they’ve taken a different approach in how they show up in the workplace. For some, that means being more vocal about their expectations around work-life balance, compensation, mental health and company values. For others, it means ditching their 9 to 5 jobs to pursue a nontraditional career path. If you’re in the latter camp, I commend you, but also urge you to have a plan in place for your finances before you quit your job, namely making sure you have enough money saved to cover living expenses for up to six months, and securing health insurance. For instance, if your parents have a health insurance plan that covers dependents, you usually can be added to their plan until you turn 26.” 


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma on February 6 to February 9, 2024 among 2,036 adults aged 18 to 27.