February 5, 2024

Understanding Generation Z in the workplace

Understanding the Generation Z in the workplace

Gen Z currently makes up around one-third of the world’s population and is expected to account for about 27% of the global workforce by 2025 – just a short year away. Born between 1997 and 2012, this generation has surpassed Baby Boomers, and coming strong after Gen X and Gen Y in the workforce. That means that Gen Z are making a greater impact on the talent pool we fish our next star employee in, and the way we work in general.

Naturally, companies worldwide need to keep learning what makes Gen Z employees tick and it’s not an easy process. Knowing what they value at work and what matters to them most is critical to prepare for needed organisational changes.

In this article, we’re sharing some insights on how to attract and retain Gen Z talent and why the changes that will need to happen in companies around the world due to the shift in generations at work are for the better.

Did you know?

77% of Gen Z say they prioritize their work-life balance;

72% of Gen Z is the most likely generation to have either left or considered leaving a job due to their employer not offering flexible work;

More than half of Gen Zers spend at least four hours a day on social media.

What does it mean for:

1. Attracting Gen Z talent?
> Respect and transparency

We all expect to be treated with respect at our workplace. Gen Z is no exception – they want their ideas and boundaries understood and valued. They expect clear, direct, and respectful communication, so hierarchical and authoritarian communication styles might not work with these employees. Gen Z expect not only respect and mutual understanding but also transparency. Transparency in the company’s goals, challenges, and decision-making processes as well as transparency in communication with their colleagues and leaders. They tend to believe that honesty and integrity are key to building trust and empowering them to do their best. Be ready for more transparent feedback, recognition, and communication processes if you want to attract Gen Z talent.

> Work-life balance

Gen Z employees prioritize work-life balance. They have been witnesses of how overwork and burnout can have a long-term impact on previous generations – therefore, Gen Z employees work to live and not live to work. They value their time outside of work as much as their professional life (that is why it’s called work-life balance!). That is why Gen Z seek employers who put effort into providing an opportunity for their employees to create and maintain it. This means flexibility in working hours, remote work options, freedom around PTO, and other things that allow them to make time for family and friends, pursue hobbies and look after themselves. This also means a more engaged, more productive, and energized team.

> Meaningful work

As discussed, Gen Z isn’t inclined to work excessive hours just to climb the corporate ladder. However, this doesn’t imply that these individuals don’t possess an ambition to advance their careers. Instead, they seek career advancement that aligns with their personal values and aspirations, prioritizing meaningful growth over blindly following paths set by others. That is why Gen Z seek companies that have strong values and put effort into social responsibility, sustainability, diversity, and ethics. Be ready to introduce projects that make an impact and provide meaningful, purposeful experiences to attract Gen Z talent.

> Personalized experience

You will notice that Gen Z talents tend to be more individualistic, which really is a positive (we’ll touch on that later). This means that they value personalized experiences at work and expect to be treated as individuals with their unique set of needs, preferences, and dreams. From an attraction point of view, companies must learn to recognize and cater to their specific strengths and interests and take into consideration their career goals. Personalization of the employee-employer relationship in this sense means tailored training that fits their learning style, personalized way to work, benefits, feedback, recognition and more. Overall, speaking the language they resonate with, leads to greater engagement and attraction rates among Gen Z workers.

> Fair compensation

The majority of Gen Z grew up in a period of economic uncertainty, so financial stability and security are absolute musts for them. That is why Gen Z are more likely to look for compensation packages that fit their skills but also provide opportunities for financial growth. By that we mean additional benefits and, as discussed, opportunities for advancement and future aspirations. In short, a dead-end job will not do, so at your next interview with Gen Z, be prepared to map out a future picture when it comes to responsibilities, titles, and compensation.

2. Retaining Gen Z talent?

You might want to think about introducing and developing these processes to enhance Gen Z loyalty and improve general work experience:

> Flexible working and wellbeing initiatives

As discussed, flexibility in the way their work is performed, where, and when it takes place is a must for Gen Z employees. In fact, 1/3 of surveyed Generation Z employees in the US reported that they would quit if there were no remote work options available. This is connected to their need for well-being, so workplace benefits related to physical and psychological health as well as helping to make their leisure more rewarding are important.

> Management and communication

Knowing how to speak Gen Z’s language (yes, it’s difficult to keep up with all that slang) is critical. Especially when it comes to day-to-day management and communication. Finding a balance between giving enough autonomy while keeping performance high can be difficult but we’ve covered the critical factors that Gen Z employees expect in the way they and their work are managed – direct communication, transparency, reassurance, recognition, and opportunity to grow are the most prominent. Is it time to rely on self-management when possible and rethink hierarchical management styles?

> Technology

2/3 of the surveyed Gen Z and millennial employees in the UK are willing to leave their jobs if their employer does not facilitate the latest technology. As digital natives, who grew up in a digital and connected environment around them, Gen Z not only expect but needs to use technology to ensure productivity. Technology is related to their need for flexibility – without it, efficient remote work is hardly possible. As a generation who appreciates collaboration, they need certain tools for teamwork and communication. Having the latest technology certainly gives the company a good amount of points from Gen Z as it adds to employee experience and employer image tremendously. It demonstrates that the workplace is invested in providing an innovative environment, which means an investment in its employee’s development, learning, and performance.

> Living the values

Do as you say. This is something to remember when dealing with Gen Z employees. As discussed, they have strong values and expectations when it comes to the company’s social responsibility efforts. We have a whole blog post dedicated to Gen Z focusing on sustainability but the same could be done to discuss their outlook on workplace ethics, diversity, inclusion, learning, innovation – among other things. The important thing to remember is Gen Z’s expectation of transparency when it comes to these processes – they won’t believe big phrases on your website, they will need to see examples.

> Personalization

Although enjoying collaboration, Gen Z appreciates the personalized approach to their journey at the workplace. As previously discussed, companies should consider personalizing employee-employer relationships through tailored employee benefits, management tactics, communication styles, and coaching. To be successful at personalization of their workplace experience, you’ll need to do a lot of listening and might need to rely on technology during the implementation phase.

> Purpose

As mentioned above, Gen Z isn’t going to want to work crazy hours for a promotion. If you cannot offer projects that are interesting and bring a sense of purpose to them, you will eventually feel a lack of motivation, enthusiasm, and commitment. On the other hand, if their work matches their values, helps them to grow and makes an impact, you’ll have star employees who are committed to excellence.

Food for thought

In short, Gen Z are digital natives who thrive with the use of technology and easily integrate digital tools into their work. They have strong values, and an entrepreneurial spirit and are not afraid of challenging the status quo when looking for autonomy, transparency, and diversity in their roles. They work to live and not vice-versa, so companies that offer fair compensation, flexibility, and work-life balance are setting themselves up for success when attracting and retaining Gen Z talent.

Do you think your company is ready to attract and retain Gen Z talent? Which areas you’ve got covered and what processes need to overgo a change?