Insights into Gen Z's Work Expectations and Values

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gen z work expectation

Who is Gen Z? And what are their work expectations? Sooner or later, you’ll consider these questions and shift your company’s unique culture and values to meet Gen Z’s work expectations. For this reason, they’re the future, embodying a shift already in motion across vertical and horizontal markets.

A new professional cohort is on the horizon, shaping the norm of tomorrow’s workplaces. Call them Zoomers, iGeneration, Post-millennials, or Generation Z – a generational group born between late 1997 and 2012, popularly denoted as ‘Gen Z’.

While being most adaptive to technology and social media, they’re the new trendsetters for tomorrow’s work. And grasping the nuances of Gen Z’s work expectations and values is not merely about adapting but about taking on a dynamic shift that promises to redefine the very fabric of work cultures.

In line with this, companies may have to rethink and restructure attracting, hiring, and retaining the future workforce.

Gen Z in the Workplace

Digitally native and the most populous generation to date, Gen Z has witnessed a whirlwind of technological shifts – from the rise of AI to the digitalization of everything. In this tech-saturated world, their work expectations are surprisingly human-centric. Although financial security is important to them, it’s not their sole driving force. They value collaboration, purpose, and flexibility more than just the latest gadgets.

According to the UN, Gen Z makes up roughly 2.4 billion people as of 2023, covering one-third of the global population. And predictions show that by 2025, they’ll constitute 27% of the workplace. Enthralling as it may seem, understanding their work expectations and adapting workplace structures is key for businesses to keep thriving in the coming years as well.

Gen Z Versus Older Groups

Unlike previous generations who built upon existing frameworks, Gen Z offers a fresh lens to problem-solving. They’re not afraid to question the existing norms and systems, which drive them toward unearthing fresh solutions. Challenging the status quo, they seek individual growth and far-reaching impact. Riding the technology waves, they bring unique perspectives and skill sets to the workplace.

Since the matter concerns understanding Gen Z’s characteristics and conduct in the workplace, it’s key to fathom and compare this generation’s traits and capabilities with the prior ones across key areas.

Tech Savvy and Communication

Gen Z demonstrates a knack for online communication and is comfortable with collaboration tools and virtual environments.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)

While adaptive to technology and prefer face-to-face communication, Baby Boomers may experience a steeper learning curve with digital tools, unlike Gen Z.

Gen X (born 1965-1980)

Comfortable with email and basic technology, they value clear and concise communication and may hesitate to maneuver newer platforms.

Millennials (born 1981-1996)

Early adopters of technology enjoy online interactions, akin to Gen Z, Millennials prioritize work-life balance and mindful screen time.

Work Values and Flexibility

Gen Z seeks purpose in the work they want to do – aspiring for flexibility and autonomy, value remote work, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Baby Boomers

They prefer stability while dedicated to climbing corporate ladders, and they value in-person work and established structures.

Gen X

Independent and results-oriented, they appreciate work-life balance and are open to flexibility but prioritize physical presence.

Millennials

They value purpose and collaboration, desire work-life balance and flexible schedules, and prioritize meaningful projects over paychecks.

Social Consciousness and Activism

Gen Z is passionate about social justice, climate change, and ethical practices – readily participates in activism and demands inclusivity.  

Baby Boomers

They have experienced various social movements, hold diverse viewpoints, and require active engagement to address current issues.

Gen X

They are skeptical toward authority, value pragmatism and results, and prioritize personal/individual impact over large-scale activism.

Millennials

They actively engage in social causes, utilize technology for awareness and mobilization, and prioritize intersectionality and inclusivity.

Learning and Adaptability

Compared with other generations, Gen Ziers are quick learners and are comfortable with constant change – readily embracing new technologies and information.

Baby Boomers

Value-established knowledge and expertise require support while adapting to new technologies and approaches.

Gen X

Independent learners are adaptable to changing circumstances and prefer practical applications and real-world, tangible outcomes.

Millennials

Seek continuous learning and growth; they are like Gen Z, comfortable with online resources and diverse perspectives – well-adaptive to technological advancements.

Gen Z Work Expectations and Values

Employers who want to attract Gen Z must comprehend the fact that preferences and priorities differ significantly from those of previous generations. Seemingly, the previous values and benefits that have been placed in your workplace may not work for this generation. Instead of a competitive wage, they admire culture; instead of individual efforts, they want collaboration.

Their perception of brands often stems from their image on social media platforms. Employers and recruiters need to maintain a positive impression on the social platforms of their brand to attract Generation Z. Surprisingly, over half of Gen Z is more actively engaged on social media platforms than in their interaction with traditional job postings.

The fact of the matter is that what previously enticed the previous groups may not work or look appealing to Gen Z to join any organization.  

What Gen Z would look for in organizations:

Purpose and Meaning

A high majority of them are job hoppers, always seeking new opportunities. Nevertheless, their driving force toward any work is the positive impact the organization is trying to make. Whether it’s environmental sustainability, social justice, or technological innovation, their work needs a deeper purpose and meaning beyond the bottom line.

Work-Life Balance

For them, achieving a work-life balance holds immense meaning. Gen Z values flexible schedules, remote work options, and a healthy separation between their personal and professional lives. They value well-being and mental health. Employers who demonstrate care in this area will attract and retain them.

Collaboration and Transparency

Achieving a shared goal with a collaborative approach appeals more to Gen Z than working in solitude. Put simply, they thrive in collaborative work environments where open communication, transparency, and inclusivity are valued. Embracing diversity and approachable work cultures, they challenge the traditional work pyramids.

Flexibility

Rather than being confined to strict schedules or micromanaged, they appreciate the freedom to manage their tasks independently. Gen Z wants self-driven work – anywhere, anytime. Flexible hours, remote options, and freedom to own their schedules are the keys to unlocking talent. It’s the trust they want, not restrictions.

Entrepreneurial Mindset

Many Gen Z individuals are entrepreneurial minded. Valuing autonomy and independence in their work, they are drawn to workplaces that allow them to be creative, take initiative, and have a voice in decision-making processes. Their decision to stay with a company is often contingent upon feeling appreciated for their efforts and being supported to lead.

Meeting Gen Z on Their Terms

It’s not many of the more repetitive tasks that need rethinking, but rather how companies attract, hire, and retain this future talent pool. Even though meeting Gen Z’s work expectations and values is not easy for companies that have been long adjusted to the routine of traditional workplaces, it presents a valuable opportunity to reimagine work for the better.

To appeal to Gen Z, traditional hiring methods are evolving. Social media platforms are becoming increasingly key in recruitment efforts, while companies are expected to align with Gen Z’s values, needs, and beliefs.

To end, offering competitive financial packages is a start, yet the inclusion of financial security, flexible work arrangements, structured training programs, and a strong pledge to societal causes greatly spurs the attraction and retention of Gen Z. 

Husnain Kazmi

Husnain Kazmi

Husnain is the Chief Operating Officer at SMB Services, and he has an impressive career in Financial Accounting and Reporting that spans over 20 years. He has gained valuable experience working with well-known accounting firms like EY. With his strong technical skills and professional expertise, Husnain's advice is essential for small and medium-sized businesses looking to succeed in their operations.

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