A new Gallup poll has revealed a primary source of happiness among the Gen Z cohort.

The survey, which included 2,271 young adults in the U.S. between ages 12 and 26, found that their most influential driver of happiness is a sense of purpose at school and at work. 

At least 60% of all Gen Zers who are happy feel that they do something interesting every day and are motivated to attend work or school.

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Among the happy respondents, 64% feel that their work and school tasks are important — but Gen Zers who are not happy are about half as likely to feel that way.

Fox News Digital spoke with Gallup senior education researcher Zach Hrynowski, the Washington, D.C.-based author of the study, about the findings. 

“The challenge that we see from the research is that about 40% to 50% of Gen Zers say they don’t feel like what they do every day is interesting,” he said.

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“They don’t feel like it’s important. They’re not motivated to do it, and they’re not getting enough time to sleep and relax.”

As Gallup’s research on newer generations progresses, Hrynowski revealed that there’s been a “shift” in the workplace away from more “traditional measures of success.”

coworkers happily work on a project

Factors that are more important to older generations, such as earning more money and getting promotions, have become less important to Gen Z and millennials, he noted.

“The most important factor in the workplace for millennials and Gen Z is that feeling of purpose,” said Hrynowski. 

“Are you making a difference in the world? Do you feel like what you’re doing is important? Do you have opportunities to learn and grow every day?”

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These results are a “really good indicator” that finding purpose “isn’t just important in the workplace,” Hrynowski suggested.

“Whether you enjoy what you’re doing [at work or school] is indicative of whether you enjoy most of what you’re doing every day,” he said. 

“This is a next step in a trend that we’ve seen emerging in our other research with Gen Z.”

teens work at school together

Other drivers of happiness

In addition to a sense of purpose at work and school, Gen Z happiness is linked to how secure and rested they feel in their personal lives, the poll found.

Other key drivers of happiness include the ability to fulfill basic needs, such as having enough time to sleep and relax during the week.

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Social pressures also have a direct correlation on happiness, as Gen Zers who spend a lot of time comparing themselves to others are less likely to report feeling happy and twice as likely to experience anxiety. 

The research found that happy Gen Zers are at least twice as likely to say they feel loved, supported and connected to others.

teen boy sits alone at school

Around 73% of Gen Zers would consider themselves at least somewhat happy overall, but that share decreases as they enter adulthood.

Among 12- to 14-year-olds, 80% consider themselves “happy to some degree,” while 68% of 24- to 26-year-olds feel the same.

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“That, to me, suggests we’re not doing a great job of setting Gen Z up to step out into the world, into their adult lives — and to be in a place that makes them feel like what they’re doing as adults is really purposeful,” Hrynowski said.

Adult Gen Zers who have any level of post-secondary education, are married or have children are “markedly happier” than their peers, according to Gallup.

female gen z college students work on a project

In the LGBTQ community, however, Gen Z adults are 16% less likely to say they are happy than their heterosexual counterparts. 

Gallup research suggests that one in five members of Gen Z identify as LGBTQ.

Surveying LGBTQ Gen Zers is on Gallup’s radar as something it’s hoping to “be able to dig into a little bit more in future surveys,” Hrynowski noted.

‘Do something about it’

Gallup launched this research in partnership with Arthur Brooks and the Walton Family Foundation. The latter is an organization that works to improve education, protect rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and invest in their home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.

“Expanding meaningful and engaging learning experiences, including career pathways, can lead to more fulfilled and motivated young people.”

Romy Drucker, education program director at the Walton Family Foundation in New York, reacted to the study findings in a press release, noting that Gen Zers are “telling us their happiness is directly linked to feeling a sense of purpose at school and work.”

She said, “Expanding meaningful and engaging learning experiences, including career pathways, can lead to more fulfilled and motivated young people.”

warehouse worker smiles with a tablet

Dr. Brooks, a Harvard University professor and social scientist, also commented on how to incorporate these findings to make meaningful change.

“Generation Z — the future of our country — has witnessed significant declines in happiness, and we must learn why,” he said. 

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“By partnering in this landmark study of adolescents and young adults, researchers, policymakers and parents will better understand what is happening and the changes we need to make.”

In reaction to the survey, educational psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba told Fox News Digital that finding a purpose can become “your reason to get up in the morning.”

female student looks into microscope

“It offers a sense of direction, shapes your goals and is a central motivating aim of your life,” said Borba, who is based in Palm Springs, California.

“And it helps teens see themselves as people who can make a difference, because they are connecting to something bigger than themselves.”

Borba advised parents that helping their teens find a purpose can be “the magic pixie dust that helps improve their well-being and find meaning in life.”  

She told Fox News Digital, “Individuals who have a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life tend to have better mental health and overall well-being.”

“Our problem: We don’t realize the value of developing purpose in our children’s lives – and we’re still caught in a GPA, test-frenzy culture where we fixate on a linear path to success.”

“Generation Z — the future of our country — has witnessed significant declines in happiness, and we must learn why.”

The psychologist stressed that each child must find his or her own purpose based on what matters most to that individual – and it’s the adult’s job to pay attention.

“Help [kids] identify something that really matters to them – and then do something about it,” she suggested.

“And when they put their plan into action and see the results, their confidence grows, and optimism grows — all the seeds of resilience that help them face challenges and thrive in a more adverse, uncertain world.”

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com.com/lifestyle.

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