The term Generation Z refers to someone born between the years 1997-2012 and they follow the previous group called Millennials. They are also popularly referred to as Gen Z, centennials or iGen. This subset of the population has no inkling of life before the internet and social media.
According to Forbes, by the year 2025, 27% of the total labour force in the OECD countries will comprise Gen Z. This subset of the population will also make up 33% of the total global population. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is an international prganisation which groups 38 member countries that benefit economically from policy collaboration for sustainable economic growth.
Gen Z has experienced many instances of geopolitical and economic uncertainties. These young adults were exposed to challenges such as an impending economic recession due to the recent pandemic, multiple wars in various parts of the world, civil unrest, a pandemic with very challenging consequences, etc.
A recent study conducted shows that this has resulted in greater levels of anxiety and stress in this group (almost half of all respondents), especially among women.
This, in turn, has greatly impacted the way they view life in general and also how they want to participate at work. They know what they want from their work lives and are not afraid to switch jobs to find it.
A recent series of surveys and interviews show that almost one in four Gen Z has experienced emotional distress compared to Milennials and other generations of workers.
Gen Z have vastly different expectations from their employers compared with their predecessors. Companies will have to make changes to old policies and ideas if they want to attract and keep their employees happy and engaged.
While earning a fair salary is important when looking for a job, Gen Z places less emphasis on salary than on other factors such as career development, company core values, education, and stance on diversity.
This new generation of workers places greater emphasis on job flexibility which can lead them to seek more opportunities for remote work. The recent pandemic has proven that many jobs can be completed remotely with flexible timings rather than the previous norm of ‘9-5 in an office cubicle'. Remote and hybrid work opportunities have been shown to minimise work stress and can even increase productivity and work-life balance is far more important with 73% of Gen Z workers seeking permanent but flexible work opportunities.
Another requirement is mental health support. This generation wants the negative stain of mental health issues removed and companies to provide a work environment where they feel safe to express themselves without the fear of being judged. This will include company policies that reflect a culture of well-being by showing more empathy towards workers. They expect more mental health support through easy access to resources and prevention.
According to Hilmar Schneider, who directs the Institute for the Study of Work (IZA), “status symbols have changed […] A sustainable lifestyle is more important than money for many people, finding meaning in what we do or simply achieve personal happiness – today they are no longer attracted by the sole prospect of a traditional career.”
Diversity, inclusion and equity are important buzzwords for Gen Z. They are more accepting of gender differences and set higher standards, and therefore want all forms of identity accepted and supported within the workplace. Company policies have to display and embrace greater levels of inclusion, diversity and equity.
The generation also wants potential employers to care about the environment and climate change. Companies will be expected to operate sustainably, ethically and display transparency.
Long gone are the days of entering the job market and remaining in the same position until retirement. Gen Z demands career growth opportunities.
This generation can be expected to change jobs frequently. They prioritise expanding their skills and developing talents and experiences. In a 2020 report on the top drivers of great work culture, ‘opportunities to learn and grow' was up from the previous year. Companies are now encouraged to actively implementing reskilling and training programmes for all employees.
For Gen Z, the ideal employer or company is seen as a good global citizen with a strong commitment to sustainability, the environment and ethical operating procedures.
We can envision the typical future job to be executed by a person who is multi-talented and multi-skilled in numerous areas of knowledge and has varied interests. The candidate will have the technology, business management, design and creative skills, and be comfortable with handling analytics and data.
The company must be flexible and innovative enough to develop and execute adequate training and leadership programs with a sharp focus on diversity. This means hiring talented individuals with the potential to be trained internally to match roles within the organization.
A company may also choose to partner with a university to attract top talent directly, especially in technology roles. Another possibility would be to have a robust mentorship program to leverage the expertise of other more experienced workers to assist Gen Z in their new roles.
There is a new way to work going forward where individuals will no longer be required to work like automatons with no social or family life outside of the office. Hybrid working has proven we can be just as productive. Gen Z demands we shatter the old '9-5 office cubicle' paradigm and embrace a new way of working, with empathy and kindness to each other but also respect and consideration for the planet and its inhabitants.
Share your experience, participate in the discussion and leave comments in our forum HERE.