Understanding Generation Z Expectations in the Workplace

Understanding Generation Z Expectations in the Workplace

Millennials have undoubtedly reshaped the landscape of the modern workplace. The ubiquity of headphones and the transition from desk phones to mobile devices (simply ‘phones’ to the millennial lexicon) bear testimony to their impact. As this wave recedes, it’s time for Generation Z to make their distinctive imprint.

The entrance of Generation Z into the workforce coincided with the unprecedented upheaval of the pandemic. The limited work options that characterized 2020 restrained Gen Z’s potential to exert their typical influence on work culture and environment. Now, as we move forward, it’s crucial to recognize and implement the necessary environmental shifts that will enable Gen Z to flourish in the workplace alongside their predecessors.

Principal Insights

  • As millennials and Generation X make space, Generation Z has made its debut in the workforce, bringing along its unique set of expectations.
  • Their advent coincides with the transformative shift many organizations are making towards a work-from-anywhere culture, paving the way for some precise actionable steps.
  • We will delve into the specifics of what Generation Z employees seek in the workplace and outline strategies to meet these needs in both virtual and physical environments.

Generation Z’s Preference for Job Flexibility Over Long-Term Careers Evidence suggests that the younger generation favors short-term employment opportunities over enduring careers. On average, Gen Z employees anticipate transitioning away from their current employers within less than three years, with only a quarter envisioning a tenure of five years or more, according to a 2019 study by Yello Recruiting. A survey conducted by Robert Half found that a significant 75% of Gen Z respondents perceive benefits in changing jobs frequently, including financial growth, varied experiences, and potential for career progression. Moreover, an Adecco Group survey revealed that an overwhelming 83% of Gen Z participants would willingly depart from an employer in the absence of suitable opportunities for career advancement.

To retain your younger workforce, it’s important to offer them progressive responsibility. Engagement can be fostered by presenting a transparent career trajectory filled with opportunities for vertical movement, skill enhancement, and diverse experiences. The potential for salary increments and bonus rewards can also serve as powerful incentives. Additionally, to counteract the high turnover tendencies of this generation, it is imperative to streamline your recruitment and employee induction processes to their highest efficiency.

Generation Z Craves Agility and Efficiency

Generation Z is characterized by a thirst for agility and speed. Just as an outdated aircraft would fail to enthrall Maverick and Goose, so too might a company entrenched in cumbersome processes and lengthy emails deter the newest generation of workers. On average, Gen Z individuals switch between tasks approximately every 19 seconds, as psychologist Jean Twenge elucidates in her book “iGen.” The ubiquity of 15-second TikTok videos provides further insight into the brisk pace of this generation’s attention span.

“Generation Z has grown accustomed to immediate responses,” said James Rice, Head of SEO at Picked, a talent acquisition software company. “If your organization seems sluggish — particularly in its hiring process — attracting Gen Z employees could prove challenging.”

To cater to Generation Z’s preference for swift processes, adopting new technology is a key strategy — a point we will expand upon subsequently. While overhauling existing processes for faster results is beneficial, it may not always be feasible in the short term. However, you can make minor adjustments to align with Generation Z’s work style: Maintain concise, visually engaging communications.

When presenting information to Generation Z, consider utilizing compelling imagery and videos while keeping text concise or in easily digestible bullet points. Reflect on which processes can be accelerated with minimal effort. For example, could managers offer timely feedback immediately after a project’s completion, rather than waiting for the next performance review? This approach can foster the continuous learning and improvement that Generation Z values. Could the use of instant messaging tools be prioritized over traditional email to quicken response times? Greater interactivity is likely to ensue.

Generation Z’s Profound Affinity for Technology

Delayed video streaming, inaccessible Wi-Fi, unreliable phone signals, or non-intuitive interfaces? These are a no-go, especially for Generation Z.

An impressive 80% of Gen Z individuals aspire to work with state-of-the-art technology, likely because they’ve been doing so since their early education, as revealed by a Dell research study. When it comes to job selection, a whopping 91% assert that technology would be a deciding factor among similar job offers. To cater to Generation Z, it’s crucial to seamlessly integrate technology into every facet of their employee journey — from recruitment and induction to daily work experiences.

Once integrated, Gen Z employees can become instrumental in making informed decisions about technology adoption.

“Younger talents are truly a revitalizing force. They’re updated with trends and technologies, offering employers an opportunity to explore and adopt new platforms,” Patricia Karam, founder of HR recruiting company Mission Recruit, observed. “I assure you, they will navigate these platforms more efficiently than anyone else. The same goes for novel technologies and social media — feel free to heed their advice and let them guide.”

Generation Z’s familiarity with technology also empowers them to articulate their preferences. According to a study by Forrester, the areas where Gen Z’s inclinations diverge from previous generations include:

Hardware: One-third of Gen Z respondents favored working with a tablet/laptop combo, compared to 23% of Gen X and 17% of baby boomers.

Software: Gen Z, while still using conventional productivity tools like email and spreadsheets, relies on them less than older generations. Surveyed Gen Z individuals were more inclined to utilize voice recognition, virtual assistants, design tools, drawing tools, and augmented and virtual reality applications.

Security: Gen Z employees are more likely to bypass security protocols for enhanced productivity. They also show a greater preference than their older counterparts for selecting their device’s security software.

Privacy: Compared to older employees, a larger portion of Gen Z workers express concern about employers accessing personal data on their personal devices used for work.

Mobility: While less inclined to work solely from home, Gen Z workers are more likely to prefer diverse work locations such as coworking spaces, during commutes, or in various spots within the office. They need the corresponding technology to do so. Research from The Economist suggests that companies effectively utilizing mobile technology foster more productive, creative, satisfied, and loyal employees, extending benefits beyond the youngest workers.

While it may not be feasible for a company to provide every Gen Z employee with complete autonomy to choose their devices and software, it can strive to equip them with the technology they prefer. Encourage discussions about favored technologies, stay updated with tech trends, seek employee feedback, and monitor satisfaction levels with the overall digital experience. This will keep Gen Z engaged, particularly in remote work settings. Choosing wisely will also ensure a smooth transition from their personal to professional technological environment.

Generation Z’s Aspiration for Workplace Flexibility

In a 2019 article, The New York Times heralded the younger generation as “the saviors from conventional office culture,” underscoring millennials’ and Generation Z’s inclination towards a balanced work-life dynamic, adaptable schedules, and the capacity to tailor their roles around their personal lives. Even before the remote work boom of 2020, nearly 75% of Gen Z individuals ranked workplace flexibility as the top employee benefit.

“Generation Z is ushering us into a new era of thinking. Businesses must contemplate how to adjust to a more relaxed atmosphere,” commented Karam. “Are they open to revising the dress code? Can they offer unlimited PTO, similar to other companies? Is there a possibility for employees to work from any location, as long as they deliver results?”

In order to attract and retain Generation Z talent, it’s important to offer the flexible work environment they value. This may encompass options for partial or fully remote work, paid leave for volunteering, breaks for exercise or therapy, adaptable scheduling for caregiving responsibilities, and a casual dress code.

However, flexibility extends beyond just the location of work. It’s worth considering empowering managers to help employees discover their own “productivity sweet spot.” Strict regulations around work hours, productivity, and workplace location could hamper overall productivity and creativity. Collaborating with employees to promote autonomy in their working style can keep them engaged, allowing them to drive their own performance, thereby positively influencing the company’s growth and profitability.”

Workplace Culture: A Paramount Concern for Generation Z

For Generation Z, workplace culture holds more significance during their job search than it does for their counterparts from other generations.

“Generation Z is entering the workforce with a plethora of opportunities available to them. They primarily base their decisions regarding employers on the culture of the organization,” said Hari Kolam, CEO of Findem, a ‘people intelligence’ platform. “Their aim is to be a part of a company that boasts an exceptional culture, and if they don’t perceive this early on, they might be inclined to opt for a competitor.”

According to Kolam:

  • The focus on culture should not be confined to recruitment but should permeate all of the company’s strategic decisions. The cultural approach should start from the first candidate interaction: Personalize automated outreach and follow-ups to help every candidate envision themselves as a part of the company.
  • Every individual involved in the hiring process, regardless of their capacity, should be well-versed in the company’s branding and values. Consequently, everyone will consistently represent these aspects when engaging with candidates.
  • Prospective candidates should be familiar with an organization’s values from the moment they encounter a job opportunity, whether it’s through a conventional job post, social media, or word of mouth.

Maintaining this cultural immersion and sense of community after the employee’s commencement can be challenging, particularly as remote employees may inadvertently adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude. The most cohesive teams invest substantial effort into forging relationships amongst themselves, understanding that a unified team is a productive one. To impart a sense of culture to all employees, regardless of their location, companies need to implement a robust communication program. This should encompass a mix of formal and informal discussions, video calls and phone conversations, emails and instant messages, and a balance of scheduled and spontaneous chats.

Generation Z: Nurturing Soft Skills Amidst Digital Prowess

Generation Z represents the first cohort of true digital natives. However, this emphasis on technology may sometimes lead to a devaluation of soft skills.

“The most substantial challenges the younger talent faces are not centered around technology, but rather on human interactions,” stated Chuck Underwood, founder and principal of the Generational Imperative. “They have received relentless training in technology. But when they transition from academia into a diverse workplace, they often find themselves lacking critical interpersonal skills: communication, critical thinking, empathy, organization, punctuality, social acumen, creativity, and other essential workplace skills.”

Interestingly, the emphasis on soft skills is not a one-way street. In a survey by Tallo involving 2,400 Generation Z students, nearly three-quarters ranked soft skills — such as critical thinking, leadership, and communication — as more critical to success than hard skills. Despite being the ‘digital generation,’ over 90% of Gen Z prefer a ‘human element’ in their teams, i.e., colleagues versus machines, according to an EY survey. Yet, 52% of respondents in Dell’s survey felt more confident about their technology skills than their non-technology skills when it comes to meeting employer expectations.

By providing opportunities to develop soft skills within the organization, both employers and employees can reap benefits. Coaching and mentorship programs, both virtual and in-person training, job rotations, multi-generational teams, and peer learning, coupled with opportunities to apply these skills in their day-to-day roles, can significantly enhance their soft skills.

NetSuite: Streamlining Tasks and Enhancing Efficiency for Gen Z

With an influx of approximately 60 million job seekers in the next decade, Generation Z is poised to significantly reshape the workplace. To attract, engage, and nurture this talent pool, it’s crucial to consider their work preferences. This tech-savvy generation, almost born with a screen in hand, is inclined towards organizations that leverage cutting-edge technology and spares them from monotonous, manual tasks.

NetSuite’s cloud accounting software is a perfect fit, offering real-time insights into various financial metrics and automating an array of recurring accounting tasks. These include the creation of journal entries, reconciliation of account statements, and data collection. The software’s capabilities to replace spreadsheets and eliminate duplicate data entry save countless hours every month, enabling employees to concentrate on more strategic tasks.

Furthermore, NetSuite’s accounting software integrates seamlessly with other NetSuite ERP components such as inventory and order management, human resources, and customer relationship management. The cloud-based data storage ensures accessibility anytime and from anywhere, given internet connectivity. This flexibility aligns perfectly with the work preferences of Generation Z, catering to their craving for flexibility and mobility.

Understanding Generation Z Expectations in the Workplace
Article Name
Understanding Generation Z Expectations in the Workplace
Discover the evolving workplace preferences of Generation Z and how organizations can adapt with tech like NetSuite's cloud accounting software.
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ABJ Cloud Solutions
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