Recruiting, Talent

What Gen Z Want in the Workplace

Entitled, lazy, and sensitive? I think not!

As a member of Generation Z workforce (employees born between 1997-2012), I have heard a few of these labels. Amid an ever-growing generational divide, many stereotypes have been thrown around about my generation. Older generations may see us as sensitive, complaintive, or entitled; but we are looking for something better and are willing to leave in order to find it.

gen z recruiting trends

Gen Z employees are not afraid to set boundaries at work. We are not afraid to leave a toxic work environment or hold an employer accountable for not supporting DEI efforts.

The question that still stands is, “What are Gen Z employees looking for?” In my opinion, we want three things: Career Development, Work-Life Balance, and Financial Security.

Career Development

We may be young, but we will not be underestimated. Generation Z is quickly becoming the most educated generation. According to a timelyMD article, 57% of 18-21 year olds attended college, compared to 52% of Millenials, and 43% of Gen Xers at similar ages. According to TalentLMS and BambooHR surveys, 58% of Generation Z employees hold higher-ed and post-secondary degrees. But, although we are educated, our education cannot prepare us for everything that we will face in the workforce.

Therefore, we need our managers to be coaches. We need learning opportunities and feedback that helps us grow. According to a study by TalentLMS, 33% of Gen Z employees say that limited career progression opportunities are a major cause of turnover, and 23% say that lack of learning opportunities will cause them to leave the company. Gen Z employees do not just want promotions. We want to be inspired. We want to learn.  

Work-Life Balance

Gen Z has become a generation known for clocking out as soon as the clock strikes 5:00pm. But the reality is that we want our time off to actually be time off. Some older generations believe this makes us entitled and lazy, but I disagree. According to a SHRM/Kronos study, 1 in 3 members of Generation Z feels motivated to work hard and stay with a company if supervised by a supportive manager.

Rather than being entitled, we simply want to be supported and challenged. We need to find meaning in our work and support a company that holds high ethical standards. A TalentLMS article states that 42% of Gen Z employee would leave their job due to burnout and lack of work-life balance. We grew up seeing our parents and grandparents build their life around their jobs. We have decided we do not want that. We refuse to be overworked and exhausted. We want balance.

Financial Security

With the current inflation rate at 9.1 percent, Generation Z is struggling to afford the cost of living. Not only that, but Gen Z has lived through a pandemic and economic recessions in 2008 and 2020. It is not unreasonable that we want to be paid a living wage.

According to a Great Place to Work article, 69% of Gen Z employees said they feel they are paid fairly, which is 7 points below other generations. According to payroll company ADP, Gen Z was hardest hit by job losses in 2020, losing 11% of their jobs, well above the national average (6.7%).

Growing up, we saw our parents struggle to make ends meet and we have decided that we do not want to struggle like previous generations. We just want to have the ability to survive on our own.

My generation is not entitled, lazy, or sensitive. We are assertive, driven, and caring. True, we expect to be motivated and inspired, but we are not afraid of hard work. We want to have career growth opportunities, find balance between our work and social lives, and be able to afford the cost of living. We have seen the precedent that past generations have set, and we have decided that we want better and we will not settle.

Faith Brinkley is the Human Resource Consultant and Data Analytics Consultant with PerformancePoint, LLC, a national consulting and training firm specializing in culture building, leadership and people initiative.