Gen Z is defining the new workplace

Posted 9/2/2022 in Trends by Em Wooden

Every generation has its defining moments. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted how people work, just as many members of Gen Z were getting ready to begin their careers. There’s no doubt that the pandemic’s fallout has impacted how Gen Zers view work, and this up-and-coming generation’s values are showing through as more and more of them are seeking jobs. Here are a few actions Gen Zers take as they enter the workforce.

1) Prioritizing flexibility

In 2021, many college students turned to Handshake for help in their job search. The networking platform’s most searched term that year was “remote”—to the tune of 1.8 million searches. While only 7% of full-time positions listed on Handshake were remote, those jobs received 17% of the network’s applications. 

Gen Z is enthusiastic about remote work. But there’s more to it than that; these job seekers primarily care about flexibility. Rather than planning their lives around their careers, Gen Zers are asking potential employers how any given job can fit into the life they envision for themselves.

Today’s job seekers are invested in finding positions that will allow them to work flexible hours, which empowers them to attend to other responsibilities throughout the day. Gen Zers get excited about hybrid working models that give them the option to head to the office sometimes while working from home the rest of the time.

2) Communicating online

There’s no doubt that Gen Zers are comfortable with virtual communication. As Fast Company has pointed out, this generation turns to the internet for everything from remote classes to gaming to developing romantic and platonic relationships. They’re tech-savvy and don’t harbor the fears that plagued other generations as the Internet became a part of our everyday lives. It’s not only easy for young job seekers to communicate with coworkers virtually—it feels natural to them.

They also use the Internet to discuss work. Gen Z has a strong influencer culture, so job seekers turn to the influencers they trust to get the inside scoop on working at a specific company. This behavior encourages companies to provide great workplaces since their reputation can spread faster than in the past.

3) Staying nimble

Gen Z jobseekers aren’t looking to stay in one position for their entire career. They find movement between departments, companies, and even careers enticing. According to one study, many Gen Zers change jobs ten times before they turn 35. They’re not looking for a single job to stick with for their entire working life; especially if they aren’t finding the flexibility they’re seeking in any given position. They prefer to stay nimble, chasing down a job that works for them and aligns with their values.

4) Championing values

They are also very values-focused, seeking employers who share their values and take action to back up their mission and value statements. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives are extremely attractive to this generation, as are mental health and wellness benefits. Gen Z is also hungry for knowledge. One way to attract young job seekers is to offer cross-department training, mentorship programs, and other learning opportunities.

5) Following in the footsteps of Millenials-and taking things a step further

Luckily for Millennials, Gen Z job seekers are taking the values that Millennials started talking about years ago and are turning them into norms. Millennials and Gen Zers are both drawn to flexibility in the workplace, but the Millennial workforce’s breakthroughs in this regard paved the way for Gen Z to make great strides. 

Just as the pandemic impacted Gen Z’s entry into the workforce, the Great Recession ushered Millennials into a brave new world as they began to apply for jobs. The result? Millennials became risk averse, valuing job security above everything else. But as time has passed, they’ve begun to seek out flexible positions, and the pandemic impacted them just as it impacted Gen Z. 

Now, Gen Z is taking the lead, demanding that their work fits into their lives. This benefits everyone in the workforce, not just Gen Z workers. Today, Millennials are enjoying a work culture they could only dream about in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The best way for employers to attract Gen Z talent is to listen to what they’re saying. The pandemic has given us all an excuse to assess whether the way we’ve been doing things in the workplace is still working. If the answer isn’t an emphatic yes, it may be time to consider what can be altered to make work a better experience for everyone involved. Gen Z has some great ideas for how to do just that.

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