Wellbeing and Mental Health

Gen Zers are making their mark in the workplace – here are 4 things they expect

People discussing work in an office environment

Gen Z workers expect authentic leadership and human connection. Image: Pexels/ RF._.studio

Ravi Swaminathan
Founder and CEO, Task Human
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Future of Work

  • Generation Z is intent on making an impact - at work and in the world.
  • By 2025, Gen Zers will account for almost 30% of the global workforce.
  • These workers prioritize social activism and stability, according to research from Deloitte.
  • Here are four expectations Gen Zers have when it comes to life at work.

They have been called individualistic, socially aware, creative, stressed, diverse, and authentic—and by 2025, they will make up almost 30% of the global workforce.

Generation Z are those born from 1997 through 2012. These digital-native Zoomers grew up with the internet, mobile devices, and social media. In an ever-changing workplace filled with multiple generations, Gen-Zers are making their mark. These workers prioritize social activism and stability, according to research from Deloitte. They value training and leadership programs, human connection, and an authentic company culture—and they want to invest in a job that invests in them.

Every generation has its own vision, values, and views. Older generations punched the clock, climbed the ladder, and got the gold watch. Meanwhile, younger generations were drawn to entrepreneurship, autonomy, and high pay. And the youngest generation is asking for flexibility, purpose, and balance. How is Gen Z changing the nature of work? How can employers meet Gen Z workers where they are? How can they build a workplace inclusive of all generations, ages, and backgrounds? Here are four items to consider:

Gen Z is insta-everything

Instagram, Insta-delivery, insta-everything.

Generation Z grew up in an always-on tech-centric environment. The iPhone launched in 2007, when they were preteens. These digital natives were connected early on via mobile devices and Wi-Fi; on-demand entertainment, social media posts, and constant communication were the norm.

From Snapchat to YouTube and TikTok, this generation is connected—and for Gen Z, this connection must be instant. In fact, 60% of Gen-Zers report that they will not use an app, channel, or website that is slow to load. They often juggle multiple devices at once and have little patience for unresponsive, lagging, or error-prone technology.

Employers should recognize these Gen Z insta preferences—and stay one step ahead of this expectation. Businesses should ensure workers have quick access to Slack, Teams, Workday, Gusto, or whatever combination of communication channels, HR management platforms, and company resources they need. Gen Z workers expect it to be fast, easy, personalized, and mobile.

Personalization please!

Think about how Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon seem to know exactly what we want to watch, listen to, or buy. Digital-native Gen Z workers expect this as consumers and they also expect it in the workplace. Call it “deep personalization.”

What does this look like when it comes to the employee experience? You can enable people to work remotely (or from anywhere). You can also allow people to maximize their personal productivity by adjusting their own work schedule to include early mornings or evenings. Is someone a self-study learner? Or do they need 1:1 training?

Also, you may have a standard set of benefits (medical, dental, vision) and policies (unlimited PTO, work-from-anywhere) that is applicable to everyone. You can drill down a level and offer your workers personalized resources and education. Someone may benefit from physical fitness and retirement planning while another person may be interested in learning a new language and leadership coaching.

Mental health matters

Multiple surveys acknowledge that Zoomers are stressed. In fact, an American Psychological Association report indicates that Gen Z “is significantly more likely to report their mental health as fair or poor, with 27 percent saying this is the case.” And these numbers have worsened since the pandemic; Gen Z adults (46%) were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic.

Employers can boost employee mental health by embracing a culture of work-life integration. Work-life integration is different from work-life balance. Work-life balance suggests that when one aspect flourishes, the other deteriorates. Spend more time at work, your family life suffers. Work-life integration, however, considers the 24-hour version of the employee (not just the 9-to-5 version)—and we can view it as an antidote to several life stressors. This means an employee can attend their child’s sports game or run an errand if they need to during the workday. The employer trusts the employee to get the work done; meanwhile, the employee is happier, healthier, and more present across the board.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Generation Z workers have their own specific attributes. They expect authentic leadership and human connection, and they need robust training and leadership programs. Also, a company’s ethics, diversity, and inclusion practices, as well as social impact, matter to Gen Z. Smart employers appreciate these distinct characteristics and will craft relevant employee experience offerings—from career coaching to mental health. Smarter employers will make many of these offerings available and accessible via mobile device.

Demographic differences aside, all generations—Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z—can still establish a shared culture at work with a common set of values. These company values may include integrity, authenticity, unity, passion, trust, and accountability. At the end of the day, how these generational groups work together and what they achieve together is what matters.

Generation Z is intent on making an impact—at work and in the world. They are digital savvy, innovative, and bold. Employers who work to meet Gen Z employees where they are physically, emotionally, and mentally will win their talents, efforts, and loyalty. And this is a big win for workers, the company, and the greater workforce.

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