The infamous “Okay, boomer” trend started from Gen Z, who had qualms about how communication worked between their age gap. Having proper “netiquette” and career stability will allow Gen Z to feel respected, included, and safe in the workplace. Opportunities for advancement and learning are also right up their alley.
What happens when Gen Z makes up most of the workforce?
With the highest ever exposure to social media and news, Gen Z have the responsibility to discern fact from fiction. News from questionable sources are everywhere, and easy to overlook when the producer is well-known or “reputable” within a journalism standpoint.
Shockingly, 46% say they’re stressed all/most of the time, so access to mental health services is a necessary addition to their career success toolbox. Gen Z has been undoubtedly the most vocal about the importance of #mentalhealthishealth and how someone’s mood can directly affect their performance.
Work Values of Gen Z
When it comes to reasons to stay at a job—not just any job—Gen Z are very particular about work values. Well…what are they?
Whether that’s a hybrid schedule, the option to start and leave early, or play catch-up on the weekends, Gen Z looks beyond the traditional 9-5. They may work better in spurts, have periods when they need to tend to their mental health, and look forward to a later start time to better align with their body’s circadian rhythm.
As paradoxical as this may seem from the previous point, Gen Z have shown the least interest in on-call and rotating shift work. They value their time and ability to plan ahead. Stability to predict their paychecks and hours give them the peace of mind to relax and unwind after working hard.
Gen Z will not tolerate discrimination and unfairness—to themselves and their colleagues. They’re quick to call out injustices they find on the Internet and will jump ship if they have to. A new Canadian law in Ontario was passed in 2021 forbidding any employers to contact their employees for better work-life balance. Gen Z helped play a role in passing that legislation.
4. Learning & Development Opportunities
Move aside, awkward coffee and water cooler chats. Gen Z will happily job shadow people in their field(s) of interest and ask industry-specific questions. They have creative methods to connect, such as meeting with a shared interest (board games, snowboarding, volunteering perhaps?).
Work Value Diagrams & Lists
Below is an example diagram of Schwartz’s Theory of Basic Values (Source):
For Gen Z, both self-direction and security are top choices in work values, which is made even easier with the explosion of online learning platforms. They’re much less focused on conformity and tradition. Instead of an annual Christmas party, they’d much rather receive a stipend for their favorite hobbies, or to travel the world and visit their friends.
Below are the work value indices for Lyons Work Values Survey (Lyons et al., 2010):
- Benefits (BEN)
- Feedback (FBK)
- Job Security (SEC)
- Hours of Work (HRS)
- Balance (BAL)
- Information (INF)
- Salary (SAL)
- Recognition (REC)
- Supportive Supervisor (SSU)
- Challenge (CHA)
- Continuously Learn (CLN)
- Freedom (FRE)
- Variety (VAR)
- Use Abilities (ABI)
- Advancement (ADV)
- Achievement (ACH)
- Interesting Work (INT)
Social / Altruistic
- Co-workers (COW)
- Fun (FUN)
- Social Interaction (SOC)
- Help People (HLP)
- Impact (IMP)
- Authority (AUT)
- Prestigious (PRE)
- Influence (IFL)
If Gen Z could choose their top five work values from the Lyons Work Values Survey, they’d roughly be: Job Security, Balance, Continuously Learn, Freedom, and Use Abilities.
They’re looking for a challenge and an opportunity to upskill for their future. Because in a technologically advanced world where automation can take over, it’s crucial to keep learning in-demand skills.
The Future with a Gen Z Majority Workforce
So, at the end of the generation (see what we did there?), what happens when Gen Z makes up most of the workforce?
As digital natives, they possess a strong command of technology and are adept at navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape. Their entrepreneurial mindset, desire for meaningful work, and emphasis on work-life balance have pushed organizations to reconsider traditional practices and adapt to a more flexible and inclusive work environment.
More flexible work schedules. A well-rounded benefits package. Unique learning opportunities. Mentorship at every level. Flatter, more evenly distributed organizations. Gen Z’s here to reshape the world of work, for a more fair and balanced way to approach their career. Are you ready?
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Özkan, Mustafa & Yılmaz, Betul. (2015). The Changing Face of the Employees – Generation Z and Their Perceptions of Work (A Study Applied to University Students). Procedia Economics and Finance. 26. 476-483. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2212-5671(15)00876-X.
Racolța-Paina, Nicoleta & Irini, Radu. (2021). Generation Z in the Workplace through the Lenses of Human Resource Professionals – A Qualitative Study. Quality – Access to Success. 22. 78-85.
Schroth, Holly. (2019). Are You Ready for Gen Z in the Workplace?. California Management Review. 61. 000812561984100. https://doi.org/10.1177/0008125619841006.
Thang, Nguyen & Dung, Mai & Rowley, Chris & Pejic Bach, Mirjana. (2022). Generation Z job seekers’ expectations and their job pursuit intention: Evidence from transition and emerging economy. International Journal of Engineering Business Management. 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/18479790221112548.