Understanding Generation Z at work provides an opportunity for business managers to devise an office environment to fuel creativity and productivity — top considerations for the new class of hires. By taking an open-minded approach to managing Gen Zers in the workplace and considering their experiences, companies can ignite better relationships with their employees and drive forward business results.
Like the generations that preceded them, this group of 20-24 year olds has their own working styles, values, and motivations. Failure to recognize their requirements and expectations could lead to workplace conflicts, particularly when it comes to employee retention. This trend is already occurring, and preventing turnover requires organizations to implement strategic, intentional workplace changes.
Knowing what motivates Generation Z in the workplace can aid in developing an efficient workplace strategy — learn what they want from the office and how to design a workspace that energizes young professionals.
Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace: Gen Z
A new generation entering the workplace brings its own set of challenges and Gen Z are no different. So, who are the employees of this generation and what attitudes do they possess?
Generation Z is composed of individuals born between 1996 and 2012. Unlike previous generations, this group was raised with the internet, meaning technology is a key part of their lives. That said, their childhood experiences were shaped by economic pressure, resulting from the last recession. They’ve never experienced a traditional office environment and most have been working remotely their entire professional career.
If companies don’t create a space that attracts these ‘digital nomads,’ they will go elsewhere. In the age of one-click applications, internet connectedness, and social media networking, quitting and applying for new jobs is longer a barrier, it’s as easy as scrolling their Instagram page and direct messaging a new company.
In turn, the Generation Z workforce has a pragmatic approach to life, often driven by aspirations of security. They have grown up with political and cultural uncertainty, in addition to job instability as COVID-19 lockdowns have shaped their entrance into the world of work environments.
What does Gen Z want in the workplace?
What does the incoming workforce want in a job? Gen Z in the workplace wants business leaders who embrace inclusion and equality along with comfort, transparency, wellness, and flexibility. Generation Z is more diverse than any other generation and their values often align with their personal morals. They want to work for companies who are forward-thinking, have the latest technology like smart offices, and demonstrate an openness to change. Additionally, they’re also most likely to seek out help for their mental health.
Prior to the pandemic, Gen Z showed increased levels of anxiety and depression, suggesting a need for businesses to offer extra support for their wellbeing in the workplace. While Gen Z employees want job security, they also value their emotional wellness, with many searching for job satisfaction as much as financial stability.
What motivates Gen Zers at work?
Motivating Generation Z in the workplace means providing opportunities for growth. If you’re planning on recruiting from the incoming class of job candidates, it’s important to offer a stable role where employees can progress, not just financially but also in their skills, education, and training. Gen Zers are searching for positions that meet their talents, interests, and values, so they want compassionate leaders who care about their career path.
Generation Z is also motivated by a sense of community. Despite generational culture in the workplace, employees still crave respect, purpose, and relationships. By establishing a community atmosphere within the office, companies can encourage deeper connections and bring employees closer to the mission of the organization.
What are the characteristics of Gen Z in the workplace?
Young professionals in the workplace can be recognized by their hard working, yet competitive nature. Gen Zers understand the concept of risk, especially when that’s coupled with uncertainty. In valuing job stability, they seek to associate themselves with an organization for a long period of time, acknowledging the need for hard work and skill development.
Designing the Gen Z Office: How to Create a Workplace Gen Z Will Love
Designing a contemporary workspace to reflect the next generation of employees requires a willingness to adapt. When developing a workplace strategy, consider implementing processes designed to help Gen Z thrive. Bringing out the best in Gen Z employees helps improve company performance, increase office use by younger employees, and to attract and retain top talent. To plan a cohesive workplace strategy for the incoming workforce, consider what your business can update to support their motivations and values.
1. Create experiences
Gen Z is a naturally independent, entrepreneurial, creative generation. To encourage healthy competition and engagement in the workplace, offer a varied and challenging experience. This will provide the opportunity for employees to gain new skills, learn about varying aspects of the business and encourage productivity. Despite the misconception that Gen Z doesn’t appreciate receiving criticism, this generation seeks out constructive feedback which can aid their development.
By creating meaningful experiences which nurture their learning and growth, workplace managers are able to meet Gen Zers’ professional and personal success goals. Consider making time for career discussion, implementing extra resources to meet young employees’ expectations and aspirations.
Health and wellbeing are highly important to Generation Z, with many seeking a healthy work-life balance in and out of the office. With more businesses adapting to hybrid work, there is an opportunity to provide flexible working options which can be tailored to meet the needs of both the employee and the business.
Alongside flexible working patterns, businesses can invest in comfortable working spaces which enhance employee wellbeing. Incorporate breakout spaces, ergonomic office seating, and enhanced air quality as part of a workplace strategy to increase employee comfort in the office.
3. Be transparent
Generation Z values transparency and authenticity, particularly in the workplace. Being honest about your brand creates trust. That means being transparent about company values, ethics, and where improvements can be made within the company.
As part of a strong workplace strategy, communicate business goals. Unlike previous generations, the new class in the office doesn’t require hand-holding — they appreciate being integrated into the workplace decision-making process. From transparency associated with salary to sharing policies on equality and diversity, opening up a dialogue with employees is key to transparency within the workplace.
4. Start a dialogue about office design and decisions
Gen Z is an entrepreneurial generation, and they require an understanding of how their contributions can make a difference both to a workplace and your clients or customers. Gen Z doesn’t enjoy simply following orders and undertaking projects. They relish the opportunity to voice their opinions to managers and colleagues. Therefore, they thrive when able to provide solutions to problems.
Opening a dialogue around office design enables workplace strategists to personalize the workplace to Gen Z’s strengths, influencing their experiences at work. While independent, they enjoy face-to-face interaction. Open floor layouts that allow networking, combined with private booths for individual workspaces cater to a diverse array of preferred working styles. Consider implementing smart office technology within the workplace to collect actionable data on how to optimize the employee experience, and integrate with the tech that Gen Z expects at work. This can include desk reservations, capacity monitors, and other smart office tools
Gen Z wants the autonomy to take control within the workplace, and work in ways that meet their individual needs. Workplace policies should include enabling employees to tackle projects in their own style, provided they meet company targets and goals. By avoiding micromanagement, workplace leaders can help this group feel empowered within their work environment.
5. Use the latest technology
As a mobile-first generation, Gen Z is tech-savvy in all aspects of their lives. Using a wide variety of technological applications plays a central role in keeping Gen Zers engaged. This generation is influenced by the technology they use. Collaborative tools, in particular, are a means of maintaining work relationships both inside and outside of the office. This aligns with an overall increase in the use of collaborative spaces in offices since early 2021.
When implementing technology within the workplace, use reliable tools that provide seamless integration into your business. When it comes to technology, Generation Z has high expectations, such as fast internet connection and applications which work across a number of devices.
One advantage of their advanced technology skills is that they’re able to work from any location. As hybrid working becomes the norm for businesses, Gen Z is able to effortlessly adapt to video conferencing software and collaborative platforms. With 73% of enterprises utilizing at least two collaboration tools, an influx of Gen Z ers into the workplace will continue to drive businesses towards the use of even more technology within the office.
The new generation at work is contributing to a more collaborative, integrated future in the workplace. Explore how use of the workplace has changed since early 2021 and the ways that Gen Z has impacted use of collaborative spaces in the State of the Hybrid Workplace Data Report.