Employees have “pervasive fear” of fitting in at work

by HRD06 Mar 2017
“Fitting in” at work is a common concern across generations X through Z around the world, according to a report by INSEAD in collaboration with Universum, the HEAD Foundation and MIT Leadership Centre.

The poll of 18,377 individuals in 19 countries asked students and professionals what they fear in their work lives (in the case of students, what they fear about their future work lives). 

Results showed a pervasive fear across all age groups. They said they were “afraid” or “very afraid” that they won’t get a job that matches their personality:
  • Gen Z (born 1997-2002): 53%
  • Gen Y Students (university students born 1984-1986): 51%          
  • Gen Y Professionals (academic degree holders born 1984-1986): 50%
  • Gen X Professionals (academic degree holders born 1965-1983): 42%

“Our research shows that all generations are in search of a sense of alignment at work,” the study said.

Even for Generation Xers, who are at the midpoint of their careers, the fear of work that does not match their personality is a top concern – cited only slightly less often than issues like job security and getting stuck with no development opportunities. Some 44% of them fear there will not be job security for their generation, and 47% fear getting stuck with no development opportunities.

In Singapore, 63% of those in Gen Z, 66% of Gen Y students, and 60% of Gen Y professionals were either afraid or very afraid that they won’t get a job that matches their personality.

The research suggested that firms should clearly articulate an authentic culture. Those who do so would have an easier time attracting top talent and retaining it.

“Building culture is part art, part science – a delicate balance of reality plus aspiration,” it said.

“And a well-crafted culture creates internal resonance, much like an orchestra tuning their instruments to a single note. Those who ‘fit’ will be drawn to you, and over time these employees will reaffirm that culture.”


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