Why Gen Z is fed up with hustle culture

Unlike previous generations who chose the grind — working extra hours and taking on more tasks in order to prove their standing to employers — Gen Z is taking a different approach.

Wages haven’t kept up with inflation, which means purchasing power is reduced. The surging cost-of-living, coupled with rising home prices and mortgage rates over the years, also means many young adults can’t reach the same milestones their parents and grandparents did, like buying their first home.

In addition, Gen Z watched millennials, burdened by student loans and the financial consequences of two recessions, struggle through it all — so, they’re not going to make the same mistakes. The younger generation is prioritizing their work/life balance over burnout and some of them are even “quiet quitting” since they’ve realized overworking themselves won’t get them far in today’s economy.

"Many of us built, whether it's bought homes or whatever, based on this promise of stability," Jesuthasan said. "There was this expectation that the tail was bigger. And we took on liabilities and obligations early on because of that tail.”

“I think this generation has seen that tail dissipate."

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What Gen Z is doing instead

To make up for the wealth gap, Gen Z is coming up with clever and creative ways to boost their incomes while asserting firm boundaries around their 9-to-5 schedules.

For one, they’re less likely to stay loyal to one company for most of their career, and will jump ship when they find a better opportunity elsewhere. According to a report from ResumeLab, a stunning 83% of Gen Zers considered themselves job hoppers. Turns out that 7 in 10 Gen Z workers consider a competitive salary as either important or very important when deciding whether or not to stay with a current employer.

In a 2023 survey from professional services organization Ernst & Young Global Limited also revealed that nearly 40% of Gen Z hold a full-time job and have a side hustle to earn extra cash.

Getting started with investing and cryptocurrencies

Others are turning to investment opportunities to grow their money, using direct brokerage accounts to invest in passive index funds or employ active trading strategies using stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

For those interested in exploring investing using a discount brokerage, it's best to consider an online trading platform that will keep trading costs low. Ideally, the online trading platform you use will offer low or no-cost trading for those using passive investment strategies, while offering discounts on higher trading volumes, for active investors. For instance, Qtrade customers get free trades on hundreds of exchange-traded funds (ETFs), while fees for stock trades can be as low as $6.95, for elite account-holders. The best part is by opening an new account, you get up to $150 cashback. Open a Qtrade account, today.

Another good option is Questrade. Trading fees range from $4.95 to $9.95 (depending on the account). With a Questrade account you won't have to pay a trading fee when you buy an ETF, a good option for investors not quite comfortable with short-term stock holds. Open a Questrade account today and get $50 in free trades.

For investors not concerned about timing the market and who may want a bit more oversight on how to construct a portfolio, Wealthsimple is a good option. This online brokerage offers free trades on stocks and ETFs — plus you get the option of crypto-trading. Open an account today and get a $50 bonus.

Another popular option is cryptocurrency. While Bitcoin and Ethereum peaked a few years ago, digital currency trading is still popular among young investors. To find the best cryptocurrency exchange in Canada, check out the Money.ca guide on crypto exchange.

Real estate investing

Another option is real estate investing. While property purchases will often require a large injection of cash, good alternative can include real estate investment trusts (REITs), as well as mortgage investment corporations.

Given the beating real estate investments took during the pandemic — and the potential to lose money on unregulated, or private funds — it's wise for beginner investors to start their real estate investments using publicly traded funds — REITs and MICs listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). There are just over 40 REITs listed on the TSX, as of 2019, and 19 of these are included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index, the index investors use to benchmark a fund's performance. Another good option is the index fund dedicated to REIT exposure: The S&P/TSX REIT Index (SPTSRE:IND). Trading at just over $300 per share (as of April 2024), the S&P/TSX Capped REIT is a sector-based index created by S&P Dow Jones Indices that is comprised of REITs with individual fund weightings capped at 25% (meaning, no one REIT can capture more than 25% of the index).

If a few hundred dollars for one share is a bit steep, you could opt to purchase shares of individual funds held within the SPTSRE:IND. For instance, these seven REITs range in price from $12 to $163 per share:

  • Allied Properties REIT (AP-U:CT)
  • Boardwalk REIT (BEI-U:CT)
  • Can Apartment Prop REIT (CAR-U:CT)
  • Choice Properites REIT (CHP-U:CT)
  • Colliers International GR-SUB (CIGI:CT)
  • Crombie REIT (CRR-U:CT)

The best part is that investing in REITs is identical to investing in stocks — buying and selling shares on a brokerage platform.

Bottom line

With defined-benefit pension plans all but obsolete, it’s more important than ever that young workers ensure they’re accumulating enough wealth for the future — and they’re not relying on their employers to get the job done.


1 Business Insider: Gen Z Working to Live, January 2024

2 ResumeLab: 83% of Generation Z workers are job hoppers (2023 Report)

3 EY: How can understanding the influence of Gen Z today empower your tomorrow?


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Serah Louis Senior Staff Writer

Serah Louis is a senior staff writer with Money.ca. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in Biology and Professional Writing and Communications.

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