The Generation Gap – is it Entitlement or Fighting for Wellbeing?

October 25, 2022


A recent, international survey by of 50 partners found that 76% of respondents believe their junior associates are more entitled than they were three years ago. 58% also reported that they’d noticed a “negative change” in the general attitude of the associates they work with in the same time period.  


Partners said this change had manifested itself in associates raising the issue of pay, workload, burnout and working from home.  


Workplace wellness still feels like a relatively new thing to many, and a light has been shone on the importance of mental health and the impact of burnout on peoples lives a lot more in recent years. The question is, is talking about it and demanding more from employers’ insubordination or is it just a fight for better conditions? reports a comment from a junior associate based in London “we don’t see our futures as our careers, we see our futures as human beings—life is too short after being stuck indoors for two years.”  


“Partners might not understand because they’re used to the linear trap of lawyering—associates aren’t wedded to it.” 


Whilst a London recruiter with a focus on the associate market commented: 


“Associates in small national firms in the regions are saying they’ll only move to London for £100,000, a sign-on bonus, and they want to work from home. It’s not feasible.”  


Finding jobs in any industry involves negotiation and firms need to figure out how they can meet in the middle so that both party’s benefit. It’s not a case of ‘us VS them’ but a case of understanding each other’s priorities.  


Attracting the next generation of associates isn’t all about pay (as found in Law.coms survey), they value work life balance, but they also desire a sense of purpose. Here are three ways firms can attract a younger workforce and keep them engaged: 


  1. Introduce technology – the younger generations don’t remember a time without technology. Wherever they work, they expect to have it and they expect to use it to reduce boring, administrative tasks. They grew up untethered, with wireless devices and workplace mobility and texting, it is their normal way of working. Providing junior staff with technology they can use to improve their workload can also become a key skill for them as they progress through their careers too.  
  2. Communicate and advertise your purpose – younger generations are keen to work for organisations that are innovative, that drive change and are making the world a better place. According to research by Kin&Co, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds would be more motivated and committed at work if they felt their employer made a positive impact on society. The next generation aren’t driven solely by profit and introducing a sense of purpose can help attract them and keep them motivated. 
  3. Be open about wellbeing – younger staff members are more open to talking about mental health and work life balance, it’s often not a criticism but simply a conversation they’re used to having and it benefits everyone, including senior members of staff. 


For more information about how technology can help attract and engage your younger staff members, contact us