Unlike previous generations who were more focused on working hard to accrue wealth, Gen Z and Millennials are shifting their priorities by placing greater importance on their mental health, mindfulness, and a healthy work-life balance.
Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennial South Africans (mostly female) are seriously considering leaving the country. The top choices to emigrate to are Europe and Australia, with the key considerations being the safety and crime rates, career opportunities, cost of living, medical care, and the economy.
There is a great feeling of despair about our country amongst those considering leaving, 74% are pessimistic about the future of South Africa, and 65% believe that South Africa will suffer a dramatic economic decline within the next year or two.
In their current mid-to-senior management roles, South Africans are riddled with feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry. They are deeply concerned about their mental health, working as an employee for the rest of their lives, living a mundane and dull life and not having a sense of purpose. They fantasize about living in another country, being financially secure, travelling the world and living in a world where people are kinder to one another
Their love for South Africa's climate, people, wildlife, and cultural diversity does not seem to affect their decision to leave. The motivating factor for seeking solace elsewhere is their lack of faith in the government – a whopping 68% spontaneously mentioned that the number one grievance about South Africa is the corrupt and incompetent government, followed by the high crime rates and lawlessness.
It is natural to leave when we feel our needs are unmet – be it a relationship, a job, a brand, a product, or a retailer, so why would it be any different when it’s a country?
Considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as a nation that prides itself on its spirit of camaraderie and Ubuntu, we must ask ourselves – what resources and support have we, and are we providing to meet these needs? During the pandemic, for instance, death was updated by the second locally and globally, and communicated as cold statistics to the extent that we had conditioned ourselves to become hardened to the facts.
There’s a plethora of papers, articles, tips, and advice online to help you cope with your mental health, depression, and anxiety during the pandemic – this is simply not enough; lifting lockdown did not automatically lift our spirits. South Africans must continue efforts to provide the proper support and guidance to combat mental health issues, both online and offline.
There is not only a feeling of stress and anxiety to meet life’s basic needs but also a bleak outlook for the future of wanting to live a purposeful, fulfilling, and meaningful life instead of merely existing.
It is a sad state of affairs when it feels like the only resolution is a one-way ticket out.
Source: The Bateleur Vantage Point Research Survey (June to July 2022) n=1 533 respondents.
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