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Top 4 Things Gen Z Want From The Workplace

They might be easily dismissed as the easily distracted, lazy and TikTok obsessed generation, but Gen Z have a vital skillset to bring to the workplace. Should employers so easily dismiss their needs?
They might be stereotyped as the easily distracted, lazy and TikTok obsessed generation, but Gen Z have a vital skillset to bring to the workplace. Should employers so easily dismiss their needs?
  • A new report explains the needs and desires of Gen Z as the enter the workplace
  • Gen Z places more importance on the work-life balance than previous generations
  • Post pandemic stability is key for Gen Z

When it comes to building resilience, Gen Z have had plenty of opportunity to test their mettle even before entering the workforce

Not only are they the generation that have had their lives and education disrupted by the global pandemic, but they’re also the generation which have grown up with global disruption and uncertainty – from political conflict and warring countries, to the repercussions of climate change.

Not only were Gen Z the first to complete their university studies and graduate under a global pandemic, when embarking on the next chapter of their lives, they have been faced with;

  1. Securing employment at a time when many companies are cutting back
  2. Working remotely in new roles, and making an impression on their new employers at distance, often with limited support
  3. Returning to a workplace once lockdown eased and slotting into an environment and work lifestyle they had never experienced before

It’s little wonder therefore that, after enduring so much, Gen Z have learned to become rather vocal in advocating for themselves when it comes to setting out their career expectations and ambitions.

And, as this generation begins to dominate the talent pipeline for businesses, analysing and understanding Gen Z’s wants and needs has become more important than ever to employers.

To this end, the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s (GMAC) report, Gen Z in the GME Pipeline, has investigated the needs and demands of Gen Z workers.

Through qualitative research conducted between 2022 and 2023, the report identifies the top four things that GMAC found to be Gen Z’s most important factors for their future careers.

So, what should employers keep in mind when looking to bring in the best of the best of the next generation?

1)   Community

The first desire is a good work life balance. The report states “Gen Zers want to feel pride in their work, and they want to make their loved ones proud, too.”

A combination of being a more socially conscious generation, teamed with strong family bonds has made earning the approval from their loved ones highly important.

As well as friends and family, creating connections in the workplace is vital for Gen Z, with the report noting an “emotional undercurrent” to their ambitions and career aspirations.

However, they have struggled to create relationships with colleagues due to the rise in working from home, so hybrid structures hold plenty of appeal.

“Gen Z are a highly socially conscious and aware generation that manages to balance ambitious future career plans alongside anxiety for the future of their community and the world”

Nalisha Patel – GMAC

According to a recent article in Forbes as many as “48% of Gen Zs say work feels transactional without the ability to bond with colleagues”, leading to staff feeling disconnected from their work.

While financial gain remains a motivation, Gen Z also desire fulfilment, happiness, and stability.

It is important for Gen Z to know when applying for employment as they desire a community feeling after being locked down and isolated for so long.

And, as research has shown, employees who can connect better with their organisations can perform better too, so better engagement between employers and employees stands to bring significant benefits.  

2)   Stability

The uncertainty of the pandemic and ongoing international and even local geopolitical challenges means that stability has become key for Gen Z when it comes to establishing their careers.

The report states that Gen Z find financial independence an essential element to finding a sense of security.  This, the report says, is because Gen Z are anxious about the future and view financial stability as a mechanism for lessening this worry.

Not only does the stability of their own job matter, but Gen Z’ers are concerned about their stability of the world around them.

Organisations which are taking steps to contribute to a better world stand not only to win over the hearts and minds of Gen Z applicants, but might also find themselves more stable in the face of uncertainty too.

3) Social Purpose

As the so-called “activist generation”, Gen Z want their voices to be heard.

The regional director of GMAC for Europe, Nalisha Patel, explains that “Gen Z are a highly socially conscious and aware generation that manages to balance ambitious future career plans alongside anxiety for the future of their community and the world.”

By growing up and developing their identities through some of the worst events of the last few centuries, it’s hardly surprising that Gen Z want to see action from their employers, whether that be regarding sustainability, climate change, or inclusivity.

As a Forbes article emphasises “Gen-Z also has had to face the intersection of the worst health crisis in over a century, the most serious confrontation with systemic racism since the 1960s and the worst economic slump in 70 years.”

From employers Gen Z want ‘real world application that translates to tangible skills, and opportunities for personal growth.’

It’s a lot to overcome. But, again here, those employers who can get it right stand to make the biggest gains, with research revealing that companies who put the time and effort into mastering inclusivity not only improve the lives of their staff, but their profitability too.

4)   Flexibility

GMAC’s report highlight’s Gen Z’s desire to keep things flexible. It states  ‘they [Gen Z] want to study and work in person, but after having the opportunity to complete tasks entirely online at the height of the pandemic, they know other modes of work are possible.’

Adding to this, an article from FlyDesk reported that “75% of Gen Z said they would prioritise a job with flexibility over one with a higher salary”, showing that, unlike the generations that came before them, money isn’t everything.

The desire for flexibility won’t only be due to the pandemic but could also be due to growing up with rapidly changing technology at their fingertips, and learning to not just adapt but thrive through using it.

With many employers now reconsidering the flexible and hybrid working models they installed during the pandemic, such findings make it wise to note that physical presence does not automatically translate into better performance or engagement.

Too Much To Ask?

GMAC has highlighting the changing expectations for businesses as they welcome in this new generation. However, given all we have lived through in the last few years, and bearing in mind the modern capabilities we have at our fingertips, are these expectations extraordinary? Should they be a natural progression into a new post pandemic, future focused and socially conscious workplace.

This is the generation which has gone from a Nokia Brick to an iPod Shuffle all the way through to the iPhone without flinching. They can master new technological skills easily and, in a few short years, will make up 30% of the workforce.

Gen Z might well desire “stability and trust in an unstable world” but, I expect, we all do, when we really think about it.  

Perhaps the question isn’t to consider if these four elements are too much to ask, but whether they’re too much to ignore?

By, Millie Jones

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