Gen Z want decent pay for doing work they enjoy, and the respect that allows them to have a life outside of their jobs – Kathleen Gerson
As workplaces continue to navigate the post-COVID world and deal with the ongoing Great Resignation, there is a new generation of young people entering the workforce at this time of much transition.
When acquiring and retaining the best employees is more important than ever, understanding what young professionals are looking for is paramount to long-lasting organisational success.
According to Indeed, and largely due to the pandemic, 82% of Generation Z and 39% of millennials have never worked full-time in an in-person office. This article is not seeking to group these two generations together as one, as they have different experiences and concerns both inside and outside the workplace. For example, millennials are fearing missed opportunities for leadership, while Gen Z is concerned with missing mentorship opportunities as COVID has thus far dominated their new professional lives. However, combined, these generations are increasingly dominating the global workforce and they share a number of concerns and desires as they represent the values that are increasingly important to society.
As those at the younger end of the Baby Boomer generation, and the older end of Generation X begin to leave the world of work behind them, they’re being replaced by Generation Z, whose workplace concerns dramatically differ. Struck with cost-of-living worries, concerns for job security, and a desire to see social and environmental changes across the board, young professionals know what they’re looking for in employers, and many are willing to turn down and leave positions that do not meet their needs.
As organisations looking to recruit and maintain the best talent of the Gen Z and millennial generations, we can break down the most important factors to help businesses meet their standards.
1. Work/Life Balance. A desire established most prominently by millennials in recent decades, Gen Z is likewise particularly concerned with good work-life balances. As discussions around mental health have grown with these generations, young professionals are not afraid of raising concerns about how they function and cope in their careers.
We all want a good balance between our personal and professional lives, but it is something the younger generations are less willing than those before to falter on, making it increasingly more important for organisations to consider.
Many young people believe their lives should not be built around their jobs, but rather their jobs should be built around their lives. There are many ways to ensure this balance in your organisation, which we will explore in a future article. However, it boils down to putting the people, and their wellbeing at the centre of your business.
2. Flexible Work Model. This leads to the second concern, the workplace model. Gen Z are digital natives, raised with the internet and the digital world at their fingertips. They know how to navigate technology and remote work perhaps better than anyone, meaning for some, this is their preferred method of work.
However, whilst this is appealing to some, as they feel the remote model allows them increased freedoms and control. For others, a return (or entry) to the office is important for the sake of certain development opportunities and creating a barrier between personal and professional.
Ultimately, a hybrid model is most suited to millennial and Gen Z professionals as they value individual choice and control (where possible) over how they work.
3. Culture. The idea of choice over how they work brings us to #3. The core values of these generations are reflected in their prioritisation of social activism and the importance they place on working for organisations whose values align with their own.
Culture refers to the character and personality of your organisation, but is influenced by many factors, including leadership styles, practices, policies and so forth. Thus, previously discussed aspects such as work/life balance and work models contribute to a workplace’s culture.
However, the philosophies and values represented by the organisation’s policies and the people who work within it play a major role in the culture. Workplaces that value employee mental health (and have practices in place regarding it); have diverse and inclusive workforces and exhibit concern for social and environmental causes are most appealing to many Gen Z professionals who are looking for their own attitudes reflected in their workplace.
It is also worth mentioning that many young professionals are in favour of moving away from the extremely formal, corporate nature of communications, in favour of a more casual way of interacting due to the value they place on authenticity.
4. Sense of Meaning. Similarly, a sense of meaning is a key factor for professionals these days. It has always been true that a sense of meaning at work contributes massively to employee happiness, but it seems that millennials and Gen Z are placing more weight on finding jobs that offer them a sense of meaning.
Jobs that make employees feel purposeful are more likely to retain the best talent, as employees feel that they are contributing to something bigger and that their role is of value. This is especially true when the purpose aligns with a cause they care about. We are set up to thrive when we feel our work has a clear meaning, and that we as individuals are valued and respected.
Employers can seek to acknowledge staff efforts and ideas, avoid burdening them with excessive bureaucracy and encourage them to find meaning in themselves.
5. Development Opportunities. This goes for any employee of any generation; development opportunities are crucial for long-term job satisfaction.
This may be in the form of clear paths for career growth such as promotional opportunities, or it may refer to upskilling opportunities. Training your employees in new things may feel risky, as you’re equipping them with more skills that they could then take elsewhere, but it’s actually the opposite. Upskilling your workforce improves employee retention.
By providing your employees with development opportunities, you are showing them that you value their careers and futures. Employees are also able to see the path to career advancement in front of them, which further boosts morale (and in turn productivity) and will help you maintain the best staff.
This also contributes to the aforementioned workplace culture. Valued employees are healthier and more productive, helping to create an all-around better environment for everyone and the business itself.
6. Financial Benefits. Almost half of Gen Zs (46%) and millennials (47%) live payslip to payslip and worry they won’t be able to cover their expenses (source). With the increasing cost of living and concern for wealth inequality, Gen Z is looking for jobs that offer them financial security and feels vocal about being paid what they feel is appropriate for the work they are doing, meaning they are less willing to settle.
[Source for the 6 factors: Deloitte]
These factors have been separated into 6 core ideas, but ultimately are very intertwined and contribute to one another. Ultimately, Gen Z especially is entering the workforce at an uncertain time, in search of positions that allow them some degree of control over their professional lives. They are seeking workplaces that match their values and treat them as an asset.
Interestingly, many (though not all) of Gen Z and millennials’ concerns for the workplace are likely of interest to older generations too. For example, the work/life balance and the sense of meaning, it’s just that these younger generations perhaps feel more confident in voicing their concern for these things. Taking these factors or board can be beneficial to any business regardless of employee demographic.
Perhaps this is a consequence of the pandemic and the Great Resignation, but professionals of all ages know now better than ever what they want from their jobs and what it takes for them to feel fulfilled, and many are no longer afraid to ask for it. We previously discussed tips for dodging The Great Resignation here.
Any organisation should seek to incorporate the above factors into their workplace environment. As we continue to navigate a post-pandemic world, the importance of valuing the employee is more critical than ever.
This means offering them opportunities, addressing their needs, and listening to their feedback. Seeking to elevate their experience through growth opportunities and incorporating their wants and needs into your business structures helps foster a healthy and productive environment, that ensures satisfied employees who feel safe and open to be honest with their employer. Professionals don’t want to work somewhere they don’t feel valued and are much more likely to stay somewhere they do.
Trainer Bubble offers an extensive range of training resources in a variety of formats, including training course materials in managing generations, talent management and recruitment skills to help you navigate recruitment in 2022.
Our range offers unlimited opportunities for upskilling your employees and showing them their value. Check out our full range of e-learning courses and classroom materials, or contact us here to find out more about how we can help you.