Pew Research, one of the world’s leading research and development centers, categorizes Generation Z — better known as Gen Z — as any individual born after 1997. Their somewhat older predecessors, those born between 1981 and 1996, are considered to be millennials, who in recent years stepped in to become leaders, managers and directors at their companies.
Regardless of the age dynamic or organizational rank, the business world is a lot different than what it was a decade or so ago — and for Gen Z, a generation that has never known a world without the internet, the workplace is now something they’re quickly reshaping.
Yet the oldest age group of Gen Z is already turning 25 and has likely been on the job market for quite some time. Statistics show that as of 2020, this group made up roughly 20% of the American population (or about 67 million people).
Being such a large and diverse group of people, the traditional office has seen some much-needed change and adoption in recent years as these employees started entering the job market at a rapid scale.
A survey by Tallo found that 65% of Gen Z employees are more likely to value an ethnically and racially diverse workforce, the highest percentile among other age groups. For Gen Z, it’s more than a job — it’s become a way of breaking the barrier between social and political matters, as well as bringing the workplace structure closer to current events.
With such a politically diverse group of employees stepping up to become the employers of tomorrow, managers and recruiters should be aware of the things Gen Z wants them to know.
Related: The 5 Things Gen Z Is Looking for in a Job and Career
Environmental and social values matter
When compared with other age groups, Gen Z shares a bigger interest and social consciousness related to environmental and sustainability matters. Roughly 58% of these employees feel that their company needs to be more environmentally responsible.
On the back of this, younger employees also share a bigger interest with employers who care about diversity, equity and inclusion, with 68% of Gen Zs saying they want their company to be more committed to social issues.
In recent years, Gen Zs have become more vocal in their support for social matters that can help drive macro changes and improvements. Though there have been some changes in recent times, with companies taking up more time to develop and implement environmental, social, and corporate government (ESG) efforts, for Gen Zs these elements of the workplace will often be considered a dealbreaker.
Taking mental health seriously
Mental health matters — and for Gen Zs, this has become a non-negotiable. Throughout the pandemic, a slew of employees left their jobs in search of something more fulfilling and less stressful as stay-at-home protocols allowed many to ditch toxic work environments.
Though some corporate companies have made more progressive adjustments to ensure employees receive the necessary rest and mental health support, Gen Zs are more likely to report their mental health as being fair or poor. In some cases, more than 27% of Gen Zers have said that this is the case, with just under half — 46% — of them claiming their mental health has worsened since before the pandemic.
In a fast-paced work environment, younger employees are more likely to open up about their mental health, looking towards their superiors to create a sustainable workplace culture that benefits both the company and the employees on an equal scale.
Related: The Untold Truth About Mental Health In The Workplace
Job support and evolving workplace career developments
The Great Resignation saw millions of employees quit their jobs in droves, with a majority claiming that a lack of workplace advancements and career development pushed them to seek new opportunities.
For Gen Z, workplace recognition, support and field-related advancement help fuel their motivation. Though for many managers and team leaders it might always be easy to support all of their team members at once, it’s important to know that these younger employees value managers that are engaged and help to recognize their contribution.
Apart from this is the importance of career advancements, with many younger employees feeling that their employer or manager should provide and equip them with the right materials or resources to improve their career prospects. In a highly competitive work environment and job market, Gen Zs want to know that they are getting something from their employers, while also at the same time directly plaguing back their efforts into the companies they work for.
The importance of workplace relationships
In a highly digital world where everyone is constantly connected, younger employees feel that their workplace relationship is a big part of their job, the environment they’re in and how they foster company culture.
With Gen Z being considered “digital natives,” around 7 in 10 surveyed Gen Zers said that in-person and face-to-face socialization in the workplace is important. Though the reality of this is somewhat two-sided since many of these employees also tend to look for jobs that can allow them more schedule flexibility with benefits such as remote-only or hybrid work.
Whether a company is running fully virtual or partially, in-person contact with colleagues and social connection is what helps to drive Gen Z employees and a factor that can help influence their job performance at the same time.
Considering this, it becomes almost clear why Gen Z employees expect more guidance and leadership from their direct superiors in the workplace. Being close and connected with other colleagues, an employer, or even just their manager is already a big selling point, and those teams that can offer it will be able to enjoy a more diverse group of younger employees.
Related: 5 Myths About Gen Z’s Expectations in the Workplace
Unique workplace expectations
The last few years have thrown a massive curveball at companies as the pandemic forced companies and businesses to transition into the digital ecosystem. The rise of remote working jobs and hybrid schedules has meant that employees are now more eager to apply for jobs that can offer them this sort of benefit.
Although it’s clear that a majority of employees these days are looking for more flexible working schedules, younger generations are among those that have become the most vocal regarding remote or hybrid work.
While workplace culture, connection and transparency are still important to Gen Zers, they often share a strong desire to have more freedom and schedule flexibility than their older colleagues. For some employees, being in the office means they are more productive and helps them to connect better with their team members, but in some instances managers will find that younger employees have become more accustomed to the virtual office.
It’s not to say that every business or company can introduce remote working, but in some ways, those that are open to the idea can include this in regular conversations or start a discussion that could potentially lead to a new way of working.
Changing jobs more frequently
Staying at one company for the majority of their career might have worked for older generations, but for Generation Z, job hopping has proven to help progress their careers faster and at a more frequent pace.
In fact, Gen Zs switched jobs at a rate 134% higher than before 2019, compared to both Millennials and Boomers. Those who aren’t scared to take the plunge, or switch jobs are jumping from one employer to the next, climbing the ladder along the way — and it’s paid off. According to one Bank of America Institute report, Gen Z’s job hopping has helped them raise their average salary close to 30% by simply changing jobs in the last year.
Going against industry norms has meant that younger employees are constantly seeking out new opportunities and are willing to switch careers entirely if it means being part of a company that aligns with their values. It also means that they can increase their career and job prospects, while also boosting their earnings along the way.
Related: 5 Worst Gen Z Myths Debunked
The job market has seen some significant change in recent years as older generations step into retirement and younger generations now make up more executive roles and positions. As the workplace environment changes, so will the needs and requirements of those who are within the job market, meaning that team leaders and managers will need to adjust their understanding of how they can attract the right talent for the work.
Gen Z is already seen making up a sizable portion of the labor force, which will only increase in the next couple of years. Unlike their predecessors, this generation is more focused on employers and teams that can drive significant change, not only in the workplace but for the general society as well.
With the right tools and resources, employers will be able to retain the best talent in the job market, helping drive social inclusion and sustainable change that can only benefit the workplace and the greater good of the community.
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