Times are a-changin and despite the many new trends and jokes that Gen Z make about themselves and the world around them, it comes as no surprise that this generation is also shaking up the way young professionals approach their careers and the workplace. Gen Z, known for their independence and individualism, has quickly popularized a resurgence of anti-work movements in recent memory – from quiet-quitting, “I don’t dream of labor,” to the Great Resignation. With Gen Z being the most diverse workforce in history, this shift in mindset brings a new perspective to how Gen Z views their career, the workplace, and the way they work in general. To get a better understanding of the leaders of tomorrow, let’s take a deeper dive into how Gen Z employees are shaping change in the workplace and the methods you can use to best engage with them.
As a Gen Zer myself, the past few years have been a time of tumultuous change as my peers and I enter the workforce in a volatile job market and world of constant uncertainty. We learned to become highly adaptive to our ever-changing environment, and in turn, gained more control over how we spend our time. This flexibility has also meant the overwhelming majority of Gen Zers prefer the hybrid and remote work model. The benefits of hybrid and remote work are two-fold: allowing your employees the autonomy to decide their own work schedule not only improves their mental health but also boosts productivity and efficiency.
However, we live in a world where not all work can be done remotely. For Gen Zers employed in industries where in-person work is unavoidable, many are now entering the office in person for the first time in their careers. These employees have not yet had the time to learn the corporate structure and company culture. It’s daunting to be in an unfamiliar environment (and likely the youngest person in the office) – employers should take the time to create community and offer opportunities for Gen Z professionals to engage with the team outside of the day-to-day work. Establishing mentorship also builds a strong foundation for collaboration, empathy, and effective communication.
Growing up with smartphones and instant messaging has made text the preferred method of communication for Gen Zers. Studies have shown that almost 75 percent of Gen Z and millennials prefer communicating with other people through text messaging rather than calling and speaking to them. That preference carries over to the workplace as more and more Gen Zers enter the workforce. Email and messaging apps like Teams and Slack allow for concise and direct communication between employees while also reducing the need for time-consuming Zoom meetings.
In addition to its efficiency, Gen Zers prefer text communication as it reduces the likelihood of hostile work encounters – especially if you are a person of color or minority in the workplace. Toxic work environments have been an unfortunate reality where discrimination, harrassment, and micro-aggressions take place in the office. Remote communication allows Gen Z employees to better protect themselves from these situations.
Nowadays Gen Z not only expects their favorite brands to be transparent and socially conscious, but also the companies they work for. Since our jobs are seen as an extension of ourselves, it’s important to Gen Zers that their company reflects the same morals and values they place on themselves. This means that we want to work for companies that we care about and give us something to believe in. Whether that’s the company mission or its DEI objectives, Gen Zers will spot the difference between lip service and authenticity when it comes to important values such as company culture and workplace inclusivity.
As we’ve seen from the anti-work movements of late, there is a pressing demand for companies to prioritize the well-being of their employees rather than their profit margins. No one is more upfront with these demands than Gen Z: 46% of Gen Zers reported being stressed or anxious due to burnout from work and 63% of Gen Z employees expect their employer to offer mental health benefits. The importance of mental health is fundamental to productivity and Gen Zers want to work for companies that support their employee’s mental health and authentic selves. When we give so much to our daily 9-to-5, it’s only fair that companies respect us as individuals who have needs beyond the skills we bring to the workplace.
Regardless of age or generation, there will always be the ambitious go-getters and hustle-culture entrepreneurs who thrive in high stake and high pressure work environments. But more and more Gen-Zers are prioritizing their mental health, work/life balance, and transparency in the workplace above the sole need to succeed. Recognizing these differences and adapting your work model accordingly is essential to fostering efficient communication, inclusive company culture, and better relationships between colleagues.