From company stocks to forbidden discussions (shhh!)

As Melissa, 23, from Florida, puts it, “I think we can all agree the job market is really weird right now. But, at least it’s possible to get a job.” Lately, we at Cassandra have heard nonstop from youth just how weird this new frontier of work is, from virtual office culture to salary negotiations to Zoom networking. Today, we’re taking a pulse on the job market as we discuss company stock, the forbidden “S” word, and the future of work.


We’re hearing it everywhere – youth is changing the norm as their willingness to talk about money challenges salary standards (Gen X, you’re welcome!). But as the gender pay gap continues, disproportionally hurting women of color, a new concern is arising: Company stocks. This negotiation tactic could make workers millions of dollars (aside from salary) during their careers. The only problem? Just 17% of women currently have company stock, compared to 24% of men, and experts say gender pay gaps will turn into stock gaps as women miss out. Yet, at Cassandra, we haven’t stopped hearing about young people’s interest in investing. So how can your brands step in and help Gen Z women excel at this crucial negotiation tool?


We are, as a society, stressed. Workers are seeking jobs that mention “wellbeing” at an increased rate of 146% since 2019, with 66% of Gen Zs specifically seeking more investment in mental health and wellness out of companies (a jump from 38% of Millennials). Yet, with an increased focus on wellbeing, employees still don’t feel like they can talk about being stressed. With close to 50% of respondents admitting they “use an alibi reason when they took an absence for stress,” company promises have yet to align with company culture. Though Gen Z is, as a generation, most open to discussing mental health, just 35% have talked with their supervisors about their stress. Businesses must adjust their mindsets internally through intimate engagement and safe zone policies, a (free!) shift that costs less than a virtual seminar on burnout that no one really knows what to do with.


While the unemployment rate for Black Americans is still nearly double that of white Americans and an increase in pay in the service industry is still a long way off, workers in corporate jobs are finally feeling a power shift. In November 2021, LinkedIn saw the “highest U.S. hiring levels on record,” with a 343% increase in mentions of “flexibility” since 2019. In fact, gigs allowing work from home now draw 2.5x more applicants. With Gen Z set to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, more major changes are coming (hello, four-day work week!) as U.S. Youth Trendsetters’ definition of personal success evolves from having a lot of money (59%) to being free from stress (80%).