The last couple of years have witnessed major changes to the world of work. While many of these changes have been in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a demographic shift is also underway: people born in the late 90s and early 2000s - popularly known as the Gen Z - are entering the workforce. Generation Z is projected to make up 30% of the workforce by 2030. According to Pew Research, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation thus far, and are also on track to be the most educated.
Gen Z are digital natives and are typically more comfortable with technology than their older peers. This lends itself to a willingness to try new things and an ability to quickly pick up new information and technologies. As employers look to hire from this new pool of talent, companies must understand what it is that Gen Z is looking for in their places of work. Now the question all HR leaders are asking: how should companies prepare for this new workforce?
What do Gen Z want?
Growing up mostly in the 21st century, Gen Z have been faced with global issues like climate change and now Covid-19. Therefore, they understandably prioritize working at companies where their work feels meaningful and impactful. Companies that emphasize their commitments to being upstanding global citizens and impacting positive change are very attractive to Gen Z workers.
Gen Z also values commitment to diversity and inclusion. This generation feels very strongly about individualized respect and valuing peoples’ differences. Thus, they are naturally inclined to favor companies with well thought out DEIs policies which will make their work more meaningful and foster inclusive work environments.
Another characteristic that Gen Z workers look for in a workplace is a focus on wellness. In a physical sense, this can manifest as offering remote work options or excellent benefits, but overall, Gen Z workers want to know that supporting employee health is a company priority. This focus should also extend to mental wellbeing.
Communication is important for recognizing and connecting workers and can support mental wellbeing by building a sense of community in the workplace. According to Gallup research, only 40% of workers feel that their job is important or that their manager cares about them. These statistics highlight the importance of supporting workers in building personal relationships with other employees and managers, and Gen Z expects that companies will utilize appropriate technology to encourage this.
The Future of Work with Gen Z
As Gen Z enters the workforce in increasing numbers, the effects of this change will be felt as companies adapt to their needs. However, Gallup research reveals that many of the priorities of Gen Z are shared by older generations. These values have simply been amplified over the years and, because Gen Z will make up such a large portion of the workforce, they will be able to assert their demands with more impact. So, by catering to the needs of Gen Z, companies will become more inviting places of work overall.
One powerful change companies can make to prepare for this demographic shift is to upgrade their legacy technologies. By streamlining internal employee systems and community building platforms, companies can prepare themselves to welcome a new generation into the workforce and give them that sense of belonging and connectedness at the workplace.
Gen Z is here to pull you into the future. Are you ready?
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Kate is a senior at Brown University studying Science Communication. She is passionate about the Future of Work and how she can make a difference in this field. Some of her topics of interest are effective corporate communication strategies, best practices for DEI, and the Gen Z workforce.