What does Gen-Z want in the workplace?

From Boomers to Millennials and more, each generation of workers has a unique point of view. These groups differ not because humans have “evolved” but because each grows up and grows old in different time periods with varying opportunities and challenges. Gen-Z is those born between 1997 and 2012 and are the children of Gen X. They have grown up in an unimaginably different world too. Having grown up in the digital age and having never known a pre-Internet world, this means that they’re naturally adapting to a world of connectivity and remote working. They also seek companies that resonate with their ethical beliefs. With this being vastly different from the way their parents and grandparents approached their careers, how has this translated into their workplace attitudes and expectations? And what can workplaces do to accommodate them?

When in the office environment, there are a few conditions Gen-Z tend to gravitate towards:

Tell them what to expect at work

Gen-Z tends to want to be invested in their daily work and to know that their time and effort has genuine meaning to the bottom line. But that’s not so easy as they enter the workforce, especially according to a study by Gallup’s State of the American Workforce as:

· Only 6/10 people know what’s expected of them in their job role.

· 4/10 feel that their job is important or have a manager who values their progression.

· 3/10 agree that there is a team member who encourages their career development.

Based on this, it’s clear that companies have room to adapt if they’re going to meet the expectations of Gen-Z in the workplace. By initiating practices that deliver the company’s mission, catering programs that help teams achieve their goals can interest Gen-Z by making it simple and transparent for employees to share their options, ideas and feedback.

They want feedback

Performance reviews and job feedback have historically been something that happens once a year,  quarterly or as essential for HR purposes. For Gen-Z, 60% would prefer multiple check-ins from their managers weekly, if not daily. This has been proved to help uphold employee retention and productivity and can become a major burden on managers if they do not prepare time and processes in advance to be supportive.

Gen-Z does not only value frequency with feedback, but they also value measurability. Bear in mind this generation is used to instant feedback through social media tools in the form of likes and comments. This means delivering feedback to Generation-Z in a trackable way, addressing specific and tangible points that are as close to their behaviour or results as possible to help them learn quickly.

Self-directed training

Gen-Z places a large emphasis on comprehensive training in the workplace. But because this generation was educated in a newer, more tech-focused and collaborative environment, the traditional standards of employee training may need to be adapted for them.

According to research spearheaded by LinkedIn to unpack generational learning, Gen-Z prefer microlearning and self-directed learning as opposed to a traditional learning approach with a manager listing them exact tasks to do. Additionally, they seek instruction that will provide insight on the best ways to advance in the workplace, adapt to changing technologies and company structure, and the best methods on redirecting this knowledge if their job ceases to exist.

Expanded importance of diversity and inclusion

Successfully attracting a diverse workforce has never been more important for companies, and especially companies that hope to attract the best and brightest new workers. In a recent Monster survey, 83% of Gen-Z candidates said that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. Gen-Z pays more attention to the diversity of a company’s board of directors and the beliefs of the CEO.

As well as this, it is important to make sure there is diversity amongst the people in recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes in terms of gender and ethnicity. This generation is not satisfied with lip service. When they enter the workforce, companies will need to take a transparent, data-driven approach to D&I to win their loyalty.

It is clear from this compilation of Gen-Z workplace preferences that they are a powerful, media social-savvy generation who will impact and shape the political and economic future of the UK.

Employers need to embrace this and offer a workplace that challenges, inspires and motivates a Gen-Z workforce if they want to nurture and retain them.

Hanna Siddiqui is a graduate of the University of Reading and is supporting Ethical Reading with marketing initiatives.

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