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The New Workforce: Gen Z in the Workplace

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Aerial view of table holding computers, laptops, office suppliesand coffees

Every generation of workers is unique in some way–shaped by its surrounding society, its experiences, its place in history, and even the preceding generations. And so it is with the newest generation to enter the workforce: Generation Z.

We’ve previously explored the characteristics, values, and motivators that make this generation stand out and delved into their educational preferences and drivers. Now, let’s explore how this generation interacts with, and what it expects from, the modern workplace.

Differentiating Workplace Demographics

Gen Z will soon make up a majority of the workforce–despite the fact that the oldest members of Generation Z are just out of college and launching careers. In fact, Gen Zs and Millennials together already make up 46% of the full-time workforce in the U.S.--and this number can only grow. That’s why it’s absolutely crucial employers use their time and resources to understand this generation’s motivations and workplace expectations.

Driving Factors

Each generation holds its own motivations for selecting certain career paths and opportunities. And that’s no less true for Generation Z. According to a recent Deloitte Global survey conducted on Gen Y (“Millennials”) and Gen Zs, 49% of the respondents said they’ve made choices about prospective employers completely based on an organization’s values and ethics.

Gen Zs tend to value flexibility, teamwork, empowerment, and community involvement in social justice more than any other factor in an employer or career field. Thus, selecting a career field or an organization that upholds those values is of utmost importance to them.

Does your organization provide a sense of flexibility, teamwork, and empowerment to its employees? Is there a strong emphasis on core values, and a sturdy code of ethics in your workplace?

Workplace Priorities

Factors such as pay, work environment, and potential for growth have long determined what career path or place of employment members of the workforce choose. Though these factors are all still important to the new Gen Z workforce, the ranking of these factors has shifted slightly for Gen Zs.

For instance, work environment and an employer's stance on employee well-being are the two most important workplace priorities for Gen Zs. That’s a big difference from past generations–Gen Xers and Baby Boomers tend to hold an organization’s emphasis on ethics as top priority.

How is your organization’s work environment? What about individual employee well-being? Does your organization value the individual as much as the whole?

Workplace Expectations

Though only a small portion of Generation Z is currently in the workforce, we’re already seeing certain expectations that Gen Zs have for careers and work environments. Firstly, Gen Zs expect a diverse and inclusive workplace. After all, they’re the most diverse generation in U.S. history. Thus, creating a workplace that encourages diversity, inclusivity, and individuality is essential to Gen Z.

Gen Zs also tend to expect employers to value and prioritize their employees’ mental health. Employer-provided access to mental health resources and information–and time off for mental health–is a relatively new phenomena in the workplace. But it’s one that’s absolutely critical to this newest generation of workers–especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic. Gen Zs now expect more leniency and paid time off–especially for mental health.

Does your company or organization prioritize diversity and inclusivity? What resources do you provide employees for mental health?

The New Hiring Process

45% of Gen Zs polled in a recent survey admit to believing they’ll have potential challenges working with Baby Boomers, compared to 17% who anticipate difficulties with Gen Xers and 5% with Millennials. Many believe this anticipation of difficulties begins during the initial hiring process, when they’re first introduced to the workplace atmosphere. How can you ensure that your organization stands out for this new and noteworthy generation?

“One-way” interviews are simply passe. Gen Zs now expect not only to be evaluated during a job interview, but also to evaluate their future employer. They expect to be able to ask honest questions–that is, essentially conduct their own interview. The goal Gen Zs typically have for an interview is to leave it with a firm grasp on what the organization does, and what they can contribute. Frankly, only the organizations that adapt to this expectation–and provide the information the Gen Z applicant seeks–have a chance of successfully hiring members of this generation.

One way to stand out to Gen Zs is to update your hiring procedure. The latest generation no longer expects to submit a paper application and resume. The application and, to some extent, the interview process is expected to be easily accessible and conducted primarily online. According to one survey, 54% of Gen Zs polled admitted they won’t even apply to a job if they feel recruitment is too dated, paper-based with no online application, or with slow response times. To that point, 82% of Gen Zs surveyed said they expect the hiring process to be fairly quick–taking about two weeks. The key to successfully recruiting and hiring Gen Zs is a streamlined, online application process that’s quick and easy to follow with maximum visibility to the candidates.

Are your organization’s hiring and interviewing processes streamlined or cumbersome? Simply, are they Gen Z friendly?

Generation Z: An Employer’s Primer

Organizations that take action to learn about, understand, and adapt to the unique values and expectations of Gen Zs will likely fair well as with the up-and-coming workforce. Those that don’t, could be sidelined.

This Generation Z: An Employer’s Primer has been developed to help business leaders, like you, get to know this invaluable workforce resource better. What’s more, this primer is on us.

Looking for more resources on Generation Z? Check out our Gen Z Video series!

© 2023 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved.


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