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Generation Z in the workplace: What are gen z looking for in a job?

Gina Schumacher

Contrary to widespread assumptions, it is clear that Generation Z (Gen Z for short) does have a desire to work. However, they place higher demands on their professional quality of life, which is entirely legitimate. This young generation strives for meaningful, flexible, and appreciative working conditions. It is important to understand and recognize their expectations to promote successful collaboration and long-term retention. This article explains in more detail how organizations can understand the needs of Gen Z to create a positive work environment and build long-term bonds with this talented workforce.

A young woman is holding up a cake with the word Gen Z.


What is Generation Z?

Generation Z will soon eclipse the millennials as the most populous generation in the world. Statistics show that 2 billion people already belong to this generation, making up 26% of the world's population. Generation Z, usually defined as people born between the years 1995 and 2015, is a completely global generation. They are completely shaped by the 21st century, connected via digital devices, and especially active on social media.

Generation Z, also known as iGen, Gen Z, or Zoomers, has recently entered the world of work and is completely turning it upside down! Understanding and interpreting the characteristics of Zoomers is critical for organizations and leaders to understand, attract, and retrain this generation.

Generation Z in the workplace

This generation is fundamentally different from the millennials. They have a completely new and unique perspective on careers and the definition of success in life and the workplace. This is the result of the fact that Zoomers are encountering a very different job market than their predecessors, characterized by disruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and labor shortages. The current global uncertainty and abundance of job opportunities mean that this young generation is developing different priorities and preferences and knows their market value.

What are the most important features of Generation Z in the workplace?

"The only constant in the universe is change," the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said. It is still true: over time, people develop and change. Each generation of employees has its own characteristics. The most important characteristics to mention about Gen Z in the workplace are the following:

Digital

Generation Z has integrated digital technology into their lives. Digital technology permeates all areas of their lifestyle and relationships. It is therefore hardly surprising that the work of Generation Z is also characterized by it. This generation prefers to use the latest technologies in the workplace. They are familiar with digital tools and platforms and expect companies to integrate them into their work processes.

Online collaboration

Thanks to the internet, we are dealing with a generation that is the first truly global generation. Digital collaboration is becoming more and more essential due to the increase in international teams. Gen Z prefers collaborative online tools for teamwork. Video conferencing, messaging apps, and joint document editing are an integral part of their working practice.

Socials

Through the various social media platforms, Generation Z is integrated into a network that is huge in terms of numbers and geography, is based on technology, and is available day and night. However, Gen Z not only uses social media for personal exchange but also for professional communication and networking. Platforms such as LinkedIn are used intensively to make professional contacts and Instagram and co. are becoming increasingly important for marketing activities.

Gen Z girls are standing around and seemingly don't want to work.

Mobile

Gen Z is changing jobs, careers, and places of residence faster than previous generations. Forecasts predict that members of Gen Z will have 18 jobs in 6 different careers in their lifetime.

Remote

Gen Z is no longer moving to a new city just for the job. Remote work is therefore becoming increasingly important. Whether working from home or even from the beach, this generation wants flexibility. Companies will therefore have to offer flexible models for remote work in addition to the traditional office. Fortunately, digitalization makes it possible to complete tasks from anywhere.

Visual

Future generations would rather watch videos than read an article. Instructions in text form are no longer available to them, but how-to videos are.

Gen Z job hopping: What does this mean for employers?

Generation Z is characterized by a high propensity for "job hopping", which refers to the regular change of jobs. Unlike their predecessors, many members of Gen Z view their careers as a series of experiences and learning opportunities, rather than committing to a single employer for the long term.

This tendency towards job hopping is often driven by a desire for diversity, development opportunities, and work-life balance. To attract and retain talented members of Generation Z in the long term, companies must pay attention to the above aspects and create flexible and attractive working conditions.

Work flexibly with Flexopus: the desk-sharing solution for modern offices

Flexopus is on different technology screens.

Today's Gen Z employees expect maximum flexibility and take this into account when choosing their employer. Flexible working - sometimes in the office, sometimes from home, sometimes from the beach - is therefore a must. To make this possible, companies are increasingly turning to desk-sharing apps such as Flexopus. With the app, employees can either book a desk in one of the company's offices every day or indicate that they are working from home.

Gen Z Work-Life-Balance 

Fair pay, value alignment, flexibility, and work-life balance: the up-and-coming generation wants it all - and is prepared to quit if they don't get it. Zoomers are looking for jobs that align with their values. If something doesn't feel right, for example, if they are unhappy with their employer's progress on sustainability, they are prepared to quit. Or they opt for "quiet quitting", i.e. they only make the minimum effort to keep their job but don't go the extra mile for the company.

Furthermore, Generation Z values their private life above all else and wants to have a job that allows them to continue and enjoy their life as usual. At the end of the day, only those companies that embrace this reality and the demands of GenZ will continue to be successful. This is the only way they can continue to attract the best and most motivated team members.

Conclusion: Does Gen Z not want to work?

The misconception that Generation Z does not want to work does not correspond to reality. Rather, they have higher expectations of their working conditions and are looking for a meaningful, flexible, and appreciative working environment. To win the hearts of Zoomers, employers, and companies need to get to know and understand the characteristics of this new generation. Technology and the forces of globalization have broadened and shifted this generation's horizons and expectations of work. They view technology as an enabler in their professional activities and place a high value on freedom, flexibility, and autonomy in the way they work.

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Markus Merkle
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