Gen Z is Taking Over the Workplace—Here’s Why That Matters

Feb 21, 2024

Here’s a shocking statistic: Gen Z, people currently aged 12-27 years old, are poised to make up more of the workforce than Baby Boomers sometime this year. As quickly as they graduate and begin their professional lives, Boomers are reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce.

So, why does this matter? Don’t people enter and exit the workforce all the time? As a rule, the answer is yes—but Gen Z’s expectations are far different than those of Baby Boomers. This means that it’s time for employers to change up their strategies for attracting and retaining talent, if they haven’t already.

 

Attracting Talent: What Gen Z Values at Work

As they enter the professional world, today’s younger generation of workers have specific ideals around what a good employer looks like. They want to work for companies that care about social issues and demonstrate their commitment to those issues. They’re also more likely to get political in the workplace (which terrifies most of the rest of the workforce).

This group is also the most vocal yet about prioritizing flexibility in when and where they work. Along with creative freedom, flexibility has been shown to be more important to them than job security! Yet flexibility doesn’t equate to hiding at home and working exclusively in remote mode. Gen Z also prefers working in person and collaborating with their colleagues—although not necessarily in an office setting.

Gen Z employees don’t believe in being constrained by traditional career paths, choosing instead to look for companies that let them create their own growth opportunities. They want to be heard, no matter what level of the company they are in. Yet they also place a premium on climbing the career ladder, looking for promotions and title changes as often as possible. And if they don’t get them? They’re out the door.

Gen Z is already becoming notorious for job hopping. Why? They could be looking for an increase in salary and benefits, a better company culture, or more flexible work arrangements. Regardless of the reason, if an employer or role doesn’t check all their boxes, Gen Z is not waiting around for things to change.

 

Employee Retention: How to Keep Gen Z Happy

Unfortunately, retaining younger workers isn’t as simple as moving meetings to coffee shops and creating new titles every year. Gen Z tends to get restless easily, possibly due to their formative years coinciding with entertainment on demand and digital overstimulation. They need to be consistently challenged with new problems to solve and new avenues for professional growth.

Their drive and ambition can be valuable tools for employers as long as they are nurtured appropriately. Creating upskilling and mentoring opportunities for younger employees will keep them engaged and hungry for more responsibility. They value continuing education in the form of certifications and other nontraditional sources, like online courses. Employers who emphasize (and pay for) professional development have an edge.

Gen Z also requires ongoing feedback, and annual reviews aren’t enough. Managers of Gen Z employees have to create weekly opportunities for checking in. It’s also important to identify ways to feed their need for achieving goals—and being recognized for doing so. Even their work styles are different, so managers need to be open to alternative methods of communication. Though texting, for example, doesn’t seem professional to most of the current workforce, Gen Z enjoys the real-time aspect.

And remember how committed Gen Zers are to social issues? They specifically want to work for diverse and inclusive workplaces and look to their leaders to hold everyone accountable for accepting diverse perspectives.

 

Creating Harmony for All Generations at Work

All this isn’t to say that employers should only cater to Gen Z talent. Their different outlook on many of the traditional workplace views challenges us all to shake up the status quo. Adapting company policies and cultural practices comes with the changing of the times. And companies that thoughtfully incorporate the evolving wants and needs of their workforce—no matter their age—are better prepared for the Gen Z’s eventual takeover at the executive level. After all, Gen Z is coming for Millennials soon—they’re poised to overtake that group by the early 2040s.

Written by: Employment Enterprises

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