Human Capital Management, Human Resources
What Gen Z Wants in the Workplace
If your organization wants to attract young talent, you need to know what they’re looking for in a job. Gen Zers are the latest generation to join the workforce. To attract them to your company, you may need to reevaluate your mission and values, company culture and operational practices.
Gen Z Characteristics: Who Are They?
Generation Z is the generation born between 1997 and 2012. They are the most ethnically diverse and comprise the largest generation in American history — 27%. They are also the first to grow up immersed in the digital era, living among iPhones, streaming services, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
Many Gen Zers are emerging into or already grappling with their early 20s, making them the youngest group to join the workforce. Like generations before, their workplace expectations are shaped by the world they grew up in — the aftermath of the Great Recession, political events like the 2016 election and current worries about rising inflation rates.
Described as compassionate and pragmatic with a strong sense of right and wrong, Gen Z is already shaking up the modern workforce — seeking flexible work time and benefits that previous generations might not have spoken up about. They’re also willing to job hop to find what they’re looking for, which makes appealing to them vital for worker retention.
Top 5 Gen Z Workplace Expectations
Generation Z is willing to work hard for the right employer. The following characteristics are often considered essential by the latest generation to enter the workforce:
Gen Z is passionate about work-life balance, possibly due to seeing their parents and millennial friends experience burnout. Long hours day after day do not appeal to them, nor does going to the office in person every day. Instead, fully remote or hybrid work opportunities are popular with the young generation.
Why Gen Z prefers a flexible work schedule is not entirely a mystery — many became accustomed to working or completing school from home during the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. They spent formative years of high school and college at home every day and may not know about the advantages of working in an office.
Unlike generations before them, who did not have much choice in their work environments, Gen Z wants to work where it’s most conducive to their schedules and needs. Around 29% prefer working remotely, and an additional 27% consider working remotely a necessity.
Many Gen Zers also crave flexibility in their full-time positions so they can rely on their jobs for financial security while pursuing creative passions and endeavors outside of work. “Side gigs” and hustles let Gen Z express themselves and explore their interests more deeply without relying on them as a profession. Many do not adhere to the belief that they have to define themselves by their jobs, which frees them to explore their passions outside of work.
Offering fully remote or hybrid positions is a promising way to appeal to Gen Z’s work-life balance preferences.
2. Value-Driven Companies
Perhaps more than any other generation, Gen Z is coming of age in a time of environmental, economic and social crises. However, they’re nothing if not passionate about making societal progress, which is evident in their workplace expectations.
Though they may not feel the desire to define themselves by their jobs, many Gen Zers want to work with a company whose values align with their own. They want to feel that the company they’re working for is about more than the bottom dollar and has a deeper mission beyond making money. Though some believe Gen Z is entitled, this generation cares deeply about the world, and two-thirds of Gen Zers want to work for a company that aligns with their interests and values.
Transparency about your company’s mission and what you do to make the world a better place can attract passionate and like-minded Gen Z employees.
3. Benefits and Perks
While Gen Z is generally less willing to work for minimum wage — or even slightly above it — they care about more than salary. They will also consider benefits and perks when applying for jobs.
Benefits are among the top reasons Gen Zers say they would stay with an employer, with health care benefits nearing the top of their wants.
Other perks employers may offer their Gen Z employees include:
- Complimentary gym memberships
- An allocated number of mental health days, in addition to regular PTO
- Access to meditation apps
- Flexible spending accounts for travel
- Ability to communicate with financial planners
- Paid time off
If you want to attract Gen Zers to your company, look at your benefits package and how appealing it would seem to a young demographic of workers.
4. Entrepreneurial Spirit
Gen Z has a strong collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit. Members of this generation enjoy learning new skills and wearing multiple hats at work. Many Gen Zers have side hustles that let them explore new skills and passions, and 50% of Gen Z between 18 and 22 participate in freelance work. They are a generation that enjoys taking ownership of their work and often have a “do-it-myself” mentality in the workplace.
You can take advantage of their entrepreneurial spirit by letting them take ownership of their projects and providing effective mentorship that helps them grow and learn new skills. Even if your company is well established, an “entrepreneurial spirit” that’s creative, exciting, collaborative and innovative can attract potential Gen Z employees.
5. Positive Workplace Community and Culture
Gen Z is a generation that knows what it wants. And they don’t want an unhealthy or toxic work environment. As one of the most stressed-out generations, they will not want to deal with a workplace that adds to their worry. Feeling micromanaged or too afraid to ask questions could encourage Gen Z employees to leave a position in search of a new job.
Even those looking for remote positions consider company culture important. Community building and company bonding events — virtual or otherwise — can show new members what being a part of your team is like. You can also gather quotes from current employees about their experience at past events and put them on your website to encourage Gen Zers who are considering applying for a position.
Young people entering the workforce for the first time are eager to make personal and professional connections. Creating a positive workplace community culture where they can build peer relationships could make your company more appealing to Gen Z talent.
Strengthen Your Team and Attract Gen Z Talent With Exude
Exude is a consulting firm focused on the connectivity of leadership development, HR, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Our mission is to support yours by offering additional support and solutions to meet your HR goals.
Contact Exude to learn how we can help you redesign your company culture and create a positive work environment that appeals to the compassionate and entrepreneurial Gen Z.