The aim of the study was to understand and compare how members of two generations, Gen Z and Gen X, view work and careers, and how economic and world events, such as the Great Recession or the COVID-19 pandemic, influence how generations view and make decisions regarding their career paths. The study was initially conceived of as in-person focus groups but transitioned to the virtual realm using the Zoom platform in March 2020. The virtual focus groups also included a photo-elicitation exercise, in which participants were showed emotionally resonant photographs to more deeply explore the emotions participants attach to work and careers.
The results of the study highlight differing attitudes about work and careers among members of Gen X and Gen Z, but the study’s methodology is also a foray into virtual qualitative research methods that highlights some of the format’s advantages, including the ability to reach participants across geographic areas, greater financial feasibility, and increased convenience for participants. In its use of photos to elicit reactions from participants, the study also offers insight into how to engage virtual participants effectively using interactive tools and into facilitation techniques better suited for the virtual group environment.