Gen Z in the Workplace and the Six Expectations Employers Must Embrace

By Jenny Barnes on Mar 20, 2024
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Generation Z in the workplace? If they're not there already, they will likely be soon. Are you ready to keep this newest generation of employees satisfied and engaged? 

Smart employers are looking at their company cultures to make sure they’re set up to attract and retain Gen Z workers. This digitally savvy, diverse and socially conscious group has unique perspectives and values that not only influence the future of work but pave the way for fresh conversations and new values in the workplace. Making sure your organization can deliver what they’re looking for in their jobs is key to engagement and retention. 

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Gen Z in the Workplace: The Newest Generation 

Understanding and engaging Gen Z in the workplace starts with getting to know them. This group, born between 1997 and 2012, is the most diverse generation and the fastest-growing age group in the workforce. 

As of 2024, Gen Z has surpassed the number of Baby Boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – in the workplace. Forbes estimates that Gen Z will make up slightly more than a quarter of the workforce by 2025

These digital natives have little or no memory of the world before social media and smartphones. Those technologies – along with national economic challenges, rising gun violence and a life-altering pandemic – have shaped their communication and work styles.

Gen Z’s short time in the workforce has been dominated by significant threats to their mental health and well-being – but they also are emerging as a generation of resilience and adaptability.  

baby boomers retiring

What Does Gen Z Want in the Workplace?

Each generation brings its own distinct perspectives and aspirations to the workplace. Because of its expanding presence – and because Baby Boomers’ retirement will only increase the demand for new employees – Gen Z will have a growing influence on what employers are expected to deliver. 

So, what does Gen Z want in the workplace? Here are six expectations employers should meet to engage Gen Z: 

Job stability and financial security 

Gen Z workers want to feel secure and able to plan for their futures. For example, more than 80% are already thinking about retirement—and 65% say they wouldn’t take a job that didn’t offer retirement benefits. Thus, they’re interested in “paychecks over promotions,” as Business Insider puts it. 

Health insurance and competitive wages rank high among Gen Z in the workplace. They want fair pay, salary transparency and equity, and they’re looking for health benefits that include dental, vision, life and disability. 

Workplace flexibility 

Many Gen Zers started their careers during COVID, when work-from-home was the norm. Given that this generation is entering the workforce at a moment when remote work has become an option in many professions, flexibility is a key factor in attracting and retaining them

More than 80% of undergrads believe that, in roles where remote work is feasible, it should be an option at least some of the time, and nearly 90% say flexibility is an important factor when considering a job. So, when answering what Gen Z wants in the workplace, one must include the option of being around colleagues when they desire it, but the flexibility to work from home when they choose. 

Work-life balance 

Gen Z cares deeply about work-life balance and mental health. They are entering the workforce less focused on short-term perks and more interested in whether an employer is willing to invest in their long-term well-being. 

Members of this generation don’t believe they should have to choose between their personal lives and a successful career. For example, 72% say they would pass on a job that doesn’t offer paid leave and time off. Employers should review and consider expanding the benefits they offer in support of mental health and employee wellbeing. Job postings should mention these benefits. 

Continued learning and development 

Gen Z is the least connected generation in the workplace. One way to engage these new workers is by providing learning and development (L&D) opportunities that develop their skills. Among Gen Z undergrads, 87% say L&D benefits are either important or essential when evaluating a job opportunity

Gen Z workers also want employers to put money behind their commitment to L&D; 50% say tuition reimbursement is a “very valuable” L&D benefit

Diversity, equity and inclusion 

Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any generation that came before it, which is one reason diversity, equity and inclusion are non-negotiables for them. In fact, a Monster survey found that an organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion affects 83% of Gen Z's decisions about where to work. 

With such a strong sense of ethics and a desire to address social issues, this generation expects an employer’s DE&I commitment to be authentic. What they’re looking for is a workplace community of diverse people who, despite their differences, support and respect each other. 

Employers who want to attract and keep Gen Z workers should evaluate what their companies can do to become more DE&I-oriented. For example, businesses where employees look a lot like each other can still adopt a DE&I mindset by educating themselves, engaging people with different backgrounds into their training sessions and encouraging employee involvement with people and organizations that look different than the company’s team members.  

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When it comes to Gen Z in the workplace, technology isn't optional. They expect businesses to utilize newer workplace technologies to facilitate processes, augment cooperation and foster communication.

This generation of workers is adept at using new technologies in their personal lives, and they want to see those same technologies used in the workplace to reduce training time and streamline processes. 

how to welcome a new team member

What Motivates Gen Z in the Workplace?

Gen Z is reshaping the workforce with its unique values and expectations. Overall, members of this generation value action and authenticity over a polished corporate image. Companies that want to attract and retain this creative, efficient, digitally literate talent pool must understand what motivates Gen Z in the workplace and adapt their strategies. 

Beyond offering competitive salaries and flexible work schedules, the goal is to understand the values, preferences and expectations of Gen Z in the workplace, and then implement strategies that respond to their needs.

This understanding is important for more than just making sure your company has workers to backfill an aging workforce. Gen Z workers bring fresh thinking, a desire for social impact and inherent digital knowledge to a business environment that is undergoing rapid technological and societal change. For companies that want to thrive and grow in the years ahead, harnessing the potential of Gen Z workers is imperative. 

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Boost Your Company with Axcet's Gen Z Talent Strategies

If your organization wants to develop innovative strategies to attract, retain and engage Gen Z talent, let Axcet’s experienced HR services team help you. Schedule a consultation to learn more about what motivates Gen Z in the workplace and how to harness the power of Gen Z workers to grow your company. 

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Written by Jenny Barnes

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