There is a new generation set to take over the work arena that will likely play a pivotal role in shifting how work is approached and structured by employers. It is inevitable that this free-thinking and valiant generation, known as Gen Z, is going to drive an overhaul of many aspects relating to current workplace norms.

With Gen Z being characterized as having strong and very specific preferences and priorities, employers will be wise to fast become accustomed to what these are and how to best make provisions for the impending Gen Z work preferences.

It is estimated that by 2025, 27% of the world’s workforce will be Gen Z, suggesting that these changes are likely to occur sooner than we think, and now is the time employers need to take note of what this means. After all, this generation is not afraid to job-hop, so understanding the values of Gen Zers is essential for any employer focused on talent retention.

For companies, part of future-proofing rests on maintaining solid levels of appeal for employees – and this is done largely by providing for their needs and nurturing an appropriate workplace culture.

To best prepare for Gen Z workers, we first need to fully understand the needs of this generation. In this article, we take a closer look at Gen Z, what motivates Gen Z in the workplace, plus discuss the top five things an employer needs to know.

Who is the Gen Z Generation?

So, who exactly does the term Gen Z refer to and what are they all about? Factually speaking, the term Gen Z refers to those born between 1997 and 2012. Digital natives, Gen Zers are extremely proficient in using digital tools of any variety, plus also expect a slick digital experience in their everyday lives.

Gen Z is the most diverse generation so far, with many growing up in multicultural and multiracial households. As a result of this diversity, Gen Zers have an understandably strong need for inclusivity in all facets of life – but especially in the workplace. 

Independent by nature, Gen Zers are likely not to follow what one might consider a traditional career path. Instead, they will seek out greater freedom by bringing their own entrepreneurial flare.

Gen Z is arguably the most ethical-minded generation so far. They are conscious of a wide range of causes and expect their workplace to be as well, with regard to both mental and physical health, the environment, sustainability, charity, and other socially responsible issues. 

While money is not everything, this generation has a great need for financial security, after witnessing firsthand the global events and financial downturn of the past decade. 

Statistics are also showing that Gen Zers are proving to be the most restless, with 25% of workers surveyed stating that they are planning to leave their current jobs in the next 6 months (higher than any other generation),

Bearing all of this in mind with regard to what a typical Gen Zer represents, let us now discuss what employers need to take note of relating to the work environment.

1. It’s all About Diversity

As previously mentioned, Gen Z is fairly synonymous with being a firmly socially responsible generation. Because of this, Gen Z workers have a strong need for the company that they choose to work for to align with their purpose and values. 

With authenticity being highly valued by Gen Z in the workplace, they will always choose a company that has a reputation for integrity. In addition, Gen Zers also expect companies to echo their stance on promoting equity and embracing diversity. Importantly, this diversity no longer refers to just gender, race, and religion, but also extends to non-binary inclusion, plus the acceptance of different perspectives and ideas in the workplace.

To prepare for these Gen Z values in the workplace, employers would be wise to relook at whether the work environments they have cultured fully embrace diversity, what changes can be implemented to improve it, what education is needed for managers to fully adopt the concept, and also how the company can better allow for dissimilar opinions.

2. Embrace Flexibility

Gen Z cares greatly about health and well-being and is not afraid to speak out about these issues. Declared as being the most stressed-out generation, this could also largely be because of the extra attention they pay to this aspect, therefore can better recognize it and speak about it more easily.

With work-life balance being a leading priority for this generation, the typical 9-5 work regime is likely to undergo change. Part of this change is likely to include increased flexibility in working hours plus in location, with remote work or the hybrid model set to be favored. As it stands, a recent study showed that 1 in 5 Gen Z employees has never worked in an in-person role. 

Employers will do well to provide for this flexibility, by offering flexibility in work hours plus a certain amount of time where employers can work remotely In addition, employers can consider shifting to a more results-driven work structure and one that is less governed by rigid working hours.

3. Offer Training and Leadership Programs

Career progression and upskilling are very important for this highly-motivated and restless generation – and as a result, companies that offer training and leadership programs will be favored. And with 63% of Gen Zers expecting to be offered in-person training by their employers, it’s not a topic that can be easily ignored. 

The Gen Z worker has a fundamental hunger for learning and advancement. After all, this is a generation that has grown up with the internet, meaning a wealth of information has always been available at their fingertips. As a result, Gen Zers also have developed a greater capacity for digesting the vast information available. A company that does not offer the extra enrichment that a Gen Z mind thrives on, will simply not gain favor with this generation. And not only are additional training programs a need of this generation, but they are also keen to work for an employer who is ready to invest in them.

The skills that Gen Z desires are a combination of hard and soft skills. There is also a need by Gen Z workers to be multi-skilled, such as being creative, business savvy, and digitally skilled. Aware of the competition for good jobs and the need to stay relevant, Gen Zers will rely on having a diverse skill set to improve their job security.

In addition to gaining skills for the purpose of career progression to different companies, internal mobility within a company is also a drawcard for this generation who are always keen to immerse themselves into new roles to gain more experience.

4. Financial Security

While salary will not necessarily be the reason a Gen Z worker takes a job, it is hugely important for this generation to be financially secure. However, salaries are not so much a top requirement because Gen Zers want to get rich, but more because they are worried about the economy and the effects of global events. After all, they have witnessed first-hand a large degree of global turmoil over the past decade, while also being aware of the consequences of any turbulence. 

Aside from the need for security is also the need to feel valued. Gen Zers regard a generous salary as a good sign of being valued by the company they work for. In addition to this, Gen Z has a deep-rooted aversion toward exploitation and will always favor a company that treats its staff well. 

With fairness and integrity firmly being Gen Z values in the workplace, Gen Z is greatly in favor of pay transparency – a movement that is experiencing steady growth globally, and one that ensures that everyone in the same job function gets the same pay, regardless of gender, race, age, etc.

5. Get Tech Ready

Gen Z is a generation that has grown up with a vast array of technology and digital technologies from virtual reality gaming to social media, streamed entertainment, and AI readily integrated with their daily lives in a variety of ways. Therefore, Gen Z workers demand a high level of technical sophistication. Slow wi-fi, manual and outdated practices, and a lack of adequate hardware are sure ways to repel Gen Z employees. 

With this being said, Gen Zers will always favor a workplace that has the latest technology. By investing in technology, companies can actually prepare for a number of factors that will help create an attractive work environment for Gen Zers, such as apps and software that encourage collaboration, productivity, and connection.

Prepare Now to Not Lose Out

It is a fact that can’t be ignored: the same work environment that suited generations of the past is unlikely to suit the workers of the Gen Z generation. Gen Z simply has different values in the workplace. And it is an unavoidable reality that in time Gen Z will inevitably populate most of the world’s workforce.

As a result, it is a good time for a company to consider how well it is prepared for this new generation – also taking a hard look at what needs to be done to accommodate the change that is pretty much guaranteed.

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