Generation Z trends in the workplace – What employers need to know

by Julie Rutherford

Step aside everyone, Generation Z is about to make an entrance. The generational cohort made up of those born between 1997-2015 is getting ready to enter the workforce, and they’re hitting the ground running. As employers, it’s crucial to understand the incoming group of job seekers that will inevitably make an impact on their organization. 

What makes them tick? How do they learn best, what do they look for in an employer? In this blog, we’ll give you a detailed, but by no means an exhaustive, list of what you need to know of the ‘iGeneration.”

Generation Z

By 2020 Gen-Z is expected to make up 20 percent of the global workforce. As Boomers leave their roles, more and more of the youth are swooping in to take their places. If companies want to cultivate loyalty among their newer team members they need to get a good grasp of who they are. 

Generational differences may cause conflict in the workplace which means that HR departments need to understand the characteristics that these cohorts share and the ones in which they differ.

Demographics: breaking down the characteristics

Unsurprisingly Generation Z is the most diverse one in the United States, made up of 55% Caucasian, 24% Hispanic, 14% African American and 4% Asian. They are also sizing up to be the most educated generation so far. They are more likely to be enrolled in college and to have a college-educated parent than their Millennial counterparts. 

Among 18- to 21-year-olds no longer in high school in 2018, 57% were enrolled in a two-year or four-year college. This compares with 52% among Millennials in 2003 and 43% among members of Gen X in 1987. 

Immigration patterns also differ for this group, Gen Z Hispanics are less likely to be immigrants than Millennial Hispanics. This is an important statistic as previous research has demonstrated that second-generation Hispanics are less likely to complete their high school education and attend college than foreign-born Hispanics (Grown and Yang).

Beliefs, attitudes, etc

Gen Z’s beliefs and attitudes are certainly a key factor to take into consideration given their importance in workplace politics, and interpersonal relationships. Data indicates that they are less patriotic than any previous generation, suggesting a more critical perception of the nation. 

They are also known to be very passionate about social change. Gen Z members are more likely to look to the government for major changes rather than businesses. Interestingly enough, 7/10 Gen Z’ers say the government should do more to solve problems. They also acknowledge the reality of climate change, with 54% of Gen Z saying that rising temperatures and warmer activity is being caused by human actions. 

This cohort has a tendency to view the world through a lens of equitability and intersectionality. Roughly half of Gen Z’ers consider the legalization of gay marriage to be a good thing for our society, compared to 47% of Millennials and 30% of Gen X’ers. They also have a more inclusive view of gender and the way it plays a role in the office. They are more likely to say they know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns whilst only 25% Millennials and 15% of Gen X’ers say the same. They are also by far the most likely to think that online forms should include other options for gender besides just “male” and “female,” 59% say that forms should include other options. 

The future is progressive and so are these members of Generation Z. An equitable and intersectional work environment is a notable factor for Gen Z job-seekers. 

What they want

Studies have also investigated what members of Gen Z want in the form of benefits, etc. 

Work/life flexibility is a significant priority. A study recorded responses to the question: “When looking forward across your professional lifetime, what are the three most important HR benefits you hope that companies you work will offer?” 

“Health-care benefits” and “financial stability” tied as most important followed closely by “flextime” and/or “family time” as well as a supportive work environment.

Whereas older generations are keen to work more, prioritize allocating time for their personal lives. This is an important distinction to note as different perspectives and values may create tensions amongst the different generations in the workplace and how they perceive each other’s efforts. 

It’s good to understand these motivations so that HR leaders can adapt to the needs of the younger employees and offer benefits that align more with what they seem to prioritize. For Gen Z, this may be more vacation time or work flexibility. 

Moving forward, a great portion of them wants to build a family of their own. In a study published in the Journal of Advertising Education, respondents expressed a strong interest in starting their own family, with as much as 93.3% of women and 94.6% of men stating that they saw a family in their future. This is something to consider when offering benefits. 

The same study then questioned the participants about their parental leave expectations. When asked, “After having a child and assuming the company you work for offers paid paternity leave, would you take it?” 100% of women and 91.9% of men reported they would take the leave. Moreover, 86.4% of women and 91.9% of men said they would also expect their partner to take paid family leave. This may be an important consideration when looking at long-term hiring. 

If you’re looking to building a relationship with your hires and cultivate loyalty then you need to offer benefits that make your organization appealing for the long-haul. If you help Gen Z job seekers envision themselves at your company for a long period of time then they’re more likely to stick with you. Give them reasons to commit to you. 

Wrapping it up

Arguably one of the most important assets of any organization is its people. As employers amp up their efforts to attract and retain the job-seeking force of Generation Z, they need to start paying attention to the main characteristics of these as well as how these differ from previous generations. 

Generation Z will help you grow your business if you let them, but you need to be willing to see things from their perspective first and to understand how their experience has shaped their own views and character. By understanding their working patterns, as well as their goals and aspirations, you’ll be able to connect with them and find loyal workers devoted to your company’s mission.

Posted in Case Study