At the end of 2021, just over half of workers aged 55 or older had retired. This change suggests an upward shift, whereby Gen X and millennial employees move up the chain of command, making more room for “Generation Z” or “Gen Z” in the entry-level job market.
Gen Z is the name for those born between 1997 and 2012. As such, they make up the youngest members of today’s labor market.
As with any generation, Gen Z has certain expectations when it comes to the workplace.
7 Things Gen Z Employees Value in the Workplace
Gen Zers know what they want and are willing to switch jobs to get it. According to Randstad’s 2022 Workmonitor report, 70% of Gen Z workers are open to new job opportunities that come along, and nearly one-third of them are actively looking for a different job. Companies, therefore, stand to benefit from considering Gen Z values and identifying ways to adapt to their needs in a way that doesn’t neglect other generations represented in the workforce.
The following values are a good starting point:
- Meaningful work
- Inclusive company culture
- Growth opportunities
- Stability and balance
- Collaboration and autonomy
- Cutting-edge tech
- Short application process
1. Meaningful work
Climate change, extreme wealth inequality, mass shootings, threats from AI, and more have made their mark on Gen Z and will continue to influence their thinking and actions. It should come as no surprise, then, to discover that making a difference is important to Gen Z.
“My goal has and will continue to be prioritizing the concept of working for purpose,” says Gen Zer Dillon Joshua Bernard, a multimedia producer and digital strategist in New York City. “I made a promise to myself that, as much as I can control it, each role I have must match my larger vision to create impact.”
The Randstad research found that 42% of Gen Z workers would even take a pay cut if it meant working a job that makes a difference in the world, and 49% would not accept a job at a company that does not align with their values. This data indicates how important corporate and social responsibility is to Gen Z.
What companies can do
Community outreach: Companies should get involved in community service initiatives and make social responsibility part of the culture. There are business benefits to investing in community outreach, but it also signals to prospective Gen Z employees that their role at the company would serve a greater purpose.
Live out company values: Showcase company culture and values at every recruiting touchpoint to show potential job candidates that the company walks the walk when it comes to what it values most. This means using employee testimonials, releasing short videos on social media, or publicizing high eNP survey results and awards such as the Best Place to Work.
2. Inclusive company culture
Gen Z has been shaped by conversations surrounding gender inclusivity, racial justice, gay marriage, and other social issues. They’re also the most ethnically diverse generation, with nearly half identifying as non-white. So, it’s no surprise that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are important to this generation.
More than two-thirds of surveyed Gen Z job seekers would “absolutely” be more likely to apply for a job where diversity and inclusion are championed in the company’s culture. Conversely, 48% would reject an offer from a company that either takes no stance on diversity and inclusion or espouses one that isn’t congruent with the Gen Z candidate’s values.
What companies can do
Hold themselves accountable to DE&I KPIs: A company not only needs to make the values of diversity and inclusion part of its culture and practices. It also needs to be able to point to metrics to show that the company is making progress on becoming a more inclusive workplace. In those areas where it misses the mark, a company that takes diversity and inclusion seriously will commit to continuous improvement and establish an appropriate action plan.
3. Growth opportunities
Finding a job that aligns with their personal values is important to members of Gen Z, says Ciara Van De Velde, client engagement manager at Employment BOOST in Troy, Michigan. But members of Gen Z also want companies to invest in them.
“[Gen Zers] want to be in a position where they feel like they are challenged and continuously developing new skills while utilizing their current ones,” Ciara says. They go on to add that Gen Z employees want to develop to their fullest potential.
What companies can do
Establish a mentoring program: Companies should set up a mentoring program to maximize Gen Z employee growth. Mentoring software, such as Together Mentoring Software and mentorcliQ, matches up employees based on work experience and professional goals. Additionally, reverse mentoring is a great way to show Gen Z employees that their contributions are valued in the workplace.
Invest in learning and development: Give Gen Zers the opportunity to expand their skill set by shadowing another employee, offering courses through the company’s learning management system (LMS), or reimbursing for Coursera or EdX courses.
4. Stability and balance
Gen Z workers value stability in their work, which makes sense, considering Gen Zers were children or teenagers at the height of the Great Recession in 2008. More than half of Gen Z workers would quit a job if it was preventing them from enjoying life.
Chris Chancey is the founder of Amplio Recruiting in Atlanta, Georgia. He spends a lot of time working with Gen Z workers, and he says this generation is not afraid to negotiate a good compensation package, including benefits to achieve stability.
“They are looking for perks that will make their lives stable,” Chris says, “so they value things like healthcare benefits and, more importantly, opportunities for professional development with the aim of landing their dream job in the shortest time possible.”
Bea Tanese, a Gen Zer and public relations specialist at ShipMonk in Deerfield Beach, Florida, also expressed that a job should offer not only stability but also work-life balance.
“Balance really is everything,” Bea says. “While it’s nice to feel a sense of purpose through a job, I think this sense of purpose can come from many different areas of your life as well. A job is important because it provides us with financial security, which, along with other factors, make or break our quality of life.”
What companies can do
Stay competitive with salary and benefits packages: Offering remote work, pet insurance, tuition reimbursement, or student loan payment assistance are just a few options to get Gen Z’s attention in the competitive labor market.
Also Read: What is Passive Recruiting?
Prevent employee burnout: Employers can proactively address burnout via performance management software and employee engagement tools. Offering days off for mental health and reimbursements for meditation apps and gym subscriptions go a long way to relieving employee stress as well.
5. Collaboration and autonomy
Gen Zers value collaboration as a means to learn from others and work with those of various backgrounds and experiences.
“I value collaboration in a job,” says Stefanie Brown, a member of Gen Z and a production coordinator at Crowd Content Media in Victoria, British Columbia. “When a variety of knowledge and skills are pooled together, whether that be virtually or in person, working towards a project or a goal allows for so much opportunity to learn new things from one another.”
At the same time, Gen Z also values their autonomy in figuring out what work styles maximize their productivity.
“Collaborating with others is important,” says Bea Tanese, “but most of the time, I prefer to do my work independently. I like coming into work, but I find that working remotely can be even more productive for me, as I have fewer distractions.”
Employers need to get their Gen Z employees involved in team projects to show they value Gen Zers’ contributions, while also giving them space to grow as individuals. Performance management software is key to assessing and encouraging that growth.
What companies can do
Adopt the right tools: Employee engagement and collaboration tools help keep all employees connected and engaged, especially in distributed workforces.
Focus on outcomes and leave the process to the employee: Offer employees options to work remotely, hybrid, or in the office, and track their performance with performance management software in case any course correction is necessary.
6. Cutting-edge tech
Both Millennials and Gen Z grew up with the internet and cell phones, but while most Millennials were introduced to the digital world via desktop computers and flip phones, members of Gen Z were introduced via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Nearly all Gen Zers own a cellphone, and 83% own a laptop.
This means members of Gen Z grew up in an “always on” environment and that they have high expectations for technology. Four out of every five Gen Z members surveyed want to work with cutting-edge technology, and 91% say that the company’s technology influences whether they’ll accept a job offer.
Companies should therefore invest in the best technology to attract younger talent. Dusty Doddridge, director of the Career Development Center at Middle Tennessee State University, oversees a lot of student workers from Gen Z, and he witnessed firsthand how investing in technology made a difference for his staff.
“Our office invested in more laptops this year, and our staff have responded well to that,” Dusty says. “Not only has this created more collaboration within the office, but it makes it easier to work from home when that might be the best or only option.”
What companies can do
Invest in user-friendly cloud-based technology: Laptops are a great place to start. However, depending on the company and the Gen Z member’s role, an organization’s app and device ecosystem should be able to accommodate a range of devices.
Many Gen Z workers cite software such as Google Drive, Slack, Skype, Salesforce, and Trello as invaluable tools for collaboration. Hardware such as tablets for easily reserving and checking into conference rooms and TV-mounted video conferencing equipment are worthwhile investments as well.
Cloud-based, user-friendly software with mobile access will delight not only Gen Zers but probably everyone else in the organization as well because they can perform work tasks when and where it’s most convenient.
7. Short application process
Gen Z is less likely to spend an hour or more on a job application. These applicants don’t want to deal with an application portal that requires them to fill in dozens of fields and upload their resumes, only to have them manually enter the information from their resumes into the portal.
As such, hiring teams may be inadvertently turning away qualified candidates if their application process is too lengthy.
What companies can do
Make it easy for top talent to apply: Market-leading applicant tracking systems such as Greenhouse, SmartRecruiters, and Jobvite offer easy and fast applicant portals that allow companies to keep applicants engaged throughout the screening and hiring process so that applicants don’t move on before submitting their application.
Plus, most applicant tracking systems let companies syndicate job postings across a number of different job board websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. This helps cover all bases so that companies don’t miss the perfect candidate by forgetting to post on one or two job boards.
Also read: Why Modern Recruitment Goes Past the Resume
Is Your Organization Ready for the Next Generation of Workers?
In the current labor market, it’s worthwhile to explore what the next generation of employees wants from its employers. Otherwise, employers risk losing out on the competitive talent market.
Gen Z employees stay at their jobs for two years on average, and more than a third intend to stay at their job for more than four years. So if your company gets it right, your youngest employees will show up and contribute.
Take the insights above into account when assessing current and aspirational workplace culture and values, as successful recruiting and retention will depend on it.
Yet, it won’t be enough to cultivate an attractive culture that appeals to Gen Z. Tools that enable the youngest generation to perform at its best, such as employee engagement software and mentoring software, will increase a company’s chances of recruiting and retention success.
Read next: Workplace Trends for Employers to Consider
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