What does Gen Z really want from their workplace?
The rising generation is taking the working world by storm, and there’s a lot to say about the differences between Gen Z and those that came before them. But which of those things are worth listening to and which can be tossed as bunk advice? Well, we asked 11 business leaders based on their experience, what Gen Z really wants out of their companies and professional lives.
- Support Their Mental Well-Being and Work-Life Balance
- Reduce Gen Z Student Debt
- Be Flexible With Workcations
- Provide the Ability to Set Healthy Boundaries
- Show Them the Money
- Focus Sincerely On DEI Initiatives
- Give Them the Tools Needed to Succeed: Mentorships
- Send a Message of Hope
- Leadership Needs to Be Authentic, Open and Honest
- Promote Workplace Autonomy and Don’t Micromanage
- Notice Their Achievements and Reward Hard Work
Support Their Mental Well-Being and Work-Life Balance
As far as maintaining a solid work-life balance is concerned, Gen Z has its priorities straight, and they appreciate an organization that takes their well-being seriously. This includes encouraging them to take time off for their mental health, providing financial assistance for therapy, and creating a sense of community and positivity in the workplace.
Thinking beyond traditional benefits creates a deeper sense of well-being, and consequently, a healthy lifestyle that allows them to flourish. And when they flourish, their unique and creative ideas come through. When it comes to Gen Z, the bottom line is—are you fostering a work culture that’s founded on compassion?
Reduce Gen Z Student Debt
One of the greatest problems that many Zoomers face is the reduction of a tremendous amount of student debt. Many of them already have loans to pay down. Others are terrified by the idea of creating debt without a guarantee that it will translate into higher salaries. So, consider an educational reimbursement or scholarship program for your workers.
One easy way to do this is by offering funds that can be used towards college or online courses, over and above their salary. This amount can accrue as the employee continues to work with you over time. For example, you might offer an hourly worker an extra dollar per hour in educational credit that they can use at any time, so long as they remain employed with you. This gives them a way to reduce educational costs, and it gives them hope that they can advance in their career and education by remaining loyal to your organization.
Be Flexible With Workcations
As Gen Z prioritizes their well-being in the workplace, it’s essential for businesses to put employee benefits first, and it starts with a remote virtual workplace. The pandemic required and enabled many employees to work remotely from all around the world. At first, it was an inconvenience, however, in 2022 it’s become part of the norm.
Giving workers the opportunity to vacation internationally while working helps employees feel appreciated, increases their productivity, and improves morale. Workations allow employees to take advantage of a better work-life balance as long as boundaries are put in place that prevents the work around the clock mentality. If companies can adapt to this new way of doing business, they can acquire and retain top talent from around the world.
Provide the Ability to Set Healthy Boundaries
Unlike Millennials, Gen Z knows that they want a healthy work-life balance, and they’re more likely to choose a workplace that offers them that. To be able to maintain this balance, they have to be able to set boundaries without any negative repercussions. Whether it’s saying no to working from the office for a few days, taking a day off for their mental health, or not working overtime, they’re likely to choose a workplace where their boundaries are respected.
Show Them the Money
Currently, in 2022, the oldest of Gen Zare 25, like most young professionals they’re not as concerned about long-term benefits like 401k programs, health options, and total rewards as much as they are concerned about salaries. This should be no surprise from the generation who has endured the worst of the pandemic and its aftermath during at least a portion of their high school, college, or early careers.
As Gen Z has watched inflation rise to historic rates they have an extra obstacle to overcome to hit those early career benchmarks like transitioning to cities, getting one’s own apartment, or buying a house. More money and higher salaries are the best way to hit these benchmarks and offer the security that Gen Z is looking for during these difficult times. If a Gen Z professional is not having their monetary needs met there’s a good chance they’ll seek out, and likely find, the higher-paying position they both want and need.
Focus Sincerely On DEI Initiatives
Generation Z needs diversity within the workplace in order to thrive. For example, a company employing professionals of varying backgrounds, ages, geographical areas, and experiences creates a melting pot for stimulating conversation and strategies. You need these unique perspectives to make a remarkable impact in the lives of your consumers. An overly similar staff will deliver bland results and disengage the up-and-coming Gen Z worker.
Give Them the Tools Needed to Succeed: Mentorships
In recent years, we’re seeing that members of Gen Z want mentorship in the workplace in an effort to advance more quickly. They want to have the tools to win. They thrive on honesty and transparency and, when paired with an established mentor, they can learn the business in a constructive way that works for them.
Send a Message of Hope
When choosing a job, the company must impact society positively. This, in turn, will be a big selling point for Gen Z. Emphasizing company-sponsored volunteer opportunities and a commitment to transparency for pay equity can set your company apart from your competition. In addition, sharing your company’s efforts on social media, if done in a tasteful manner, will further influence your opportunities with Gen Z applicants. So, highlighting those efforts can be very powerful if your business works hard to improve its impact on society.
Leadership Needs to Be Authentic, Open and Honest
Gen Z are a generation hell-bent on authenticity, and they want their workplaces to reflect that. They want leaders who are willing to be vulnerable, who can admit when they don’t know the answers, and who will ask for help when they need it. They want leaders who are open and honest about the company’s mission, goals, and challenges. They want leaders who will take the time to get to know their employees on a personal level.
Gen Z wants leaders who will celebrate the small wins and help their teams find ways to celebrate the little victories, too. They want leaders who will take a stand, stand up for what’s right, and stand by their team. Gen Z wants leaders who are proud to work for their company, and who will make sure their employees are proud to work there, too.
Promote Workplace Autonomy and Don’t Micromanage
Each generation has their own dynamics and if a company truly wants to attract young talent they have to understand and adapt to those factors. I have hired my fair share of employees, and I can tell you Gen Z aren’t salary-driven and can’t be swayed with shiny perks. What they really want from a hiring company is workplace autonomy.
The era of micromanaging is coming to an end, and Gen Z will be the ones to hammer in the last nail. They want the creative freedom and the authority to approach an objective in their own unique way without having to be hounded or directed. As leaders, we have to understand this principle and take a mentoring role, with emphasis on giving guidance as opposed to directives.
Notice Their Achievements and Reward Hard Work
Based on my experience, one of the things Gen Z really looks for in a workplace is the ability to be noticed. This can manifest in different ways, such as being given assignments that have a large impact or working in an open-plan office where their work is visible to others. Gen Z has grown up with social media and they are accustomed to sharing their lives online, so they crave a work environment where they can get similar levels of feedback and recognition.
In a traditional 9-to-5 workplace, it can be easy to feel like just another cog in the machine, but Gen Z wants to feel like their work is valued and that they are making a difference. If your workplace can provide this level of engagement, you will be able to attract and retain top Gen Z talent.