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Gen Z at work, as told by a Gen Z

By Tamzen Brenton

We’ve all seen the articles about how Gen Z are set to change the workplace. So as a Gen Z myself, I thought I’d weigh in on the topic!

It’d be easy to think that Gen Z employees have entered the workforce on the backfoot, what with starting jobs in the middle of a global pandemic and a fall in job security.

But Gen Z has often proved they’re not prepared to stick with the status quo – and the workplace is no exception. From ‘quiet quitting’ trends, to candidates who’ve grown up with tech their whole lives, they’ve entered the workplace with quite the bang. One that many companies just aren’t prepared for. But those that are? They’re reaping the rewards.

We’ve all seen the articles about how Gen Z are set to change the workplace. So as a Gen Z myself, I thought I’d weigh in on the topic!

So what are Gen Z like?

Having grown up with the internet at their fingertips, Gen Z candidates are far more inclined to use social media for information on a company they’re considering working for than other generations. For instance, I turn to social media for everything, whether it’s the latest news or to shop online, and checking out a company’s Instagram profile is something I frequently do. I’ve found that this makes employer branding key to making that crucial first impression.

As the first digital generation, Gen Z may also hold potential to close the gap between non-technical and technical roles. Their innate fluency with technology means they’re nothing short of critical to navigating a new age of AI, which is already making sector waves from healthcare and finance to recruitment and industrial processes. Gen Z employees have often been the first to experiment with generative AI tools such as Open AI’s Chat GPT – something that seems to be taking the world by storm. And with AI embedded in apps like Snapchat that my generation use regularly, there’s no wonder we’re not scared by this kind of tech!

Gen Z also notice when technology is not up to scratch, or is just plain annoying to us, making it more important than ever for companies to keep up with the latest solutions to recruit, and retain, their younger talent.

What do us Gen Z-ers want from our careers?

Gen Z are aware of what they can offer, and what they want to ask for in return; they’re not afraid to seek softer benefits and search for employers whose values better align with their own. Rather than being just financially motivated, Gen Z care about health (including mental health) benefits, access to wellbeing initiatives and, crucially, a positive work-life balance that includes flexible hours and hybrid work.

Furthermore, Gen Z have consistently shown that they prioritise progression for others as much as themselves. A commitment to diversity and inclusion, for example, is important for 83% of Gen Z candidates. A focus on a company’s wider social, economic and environmental impact is proving to be of equal weight, which comes as no surprise since my generation has grown up with global issues such as climate change in constant spotlight. Companies need to show real commitment to the societal and cultural values they brand throughout their organisation if they want to attract this generation, who aren’t afraid of using trends like quiet quitting to make their point heard.

It is also worth noting that Gen Z are not so different to generations that have come before them, I promise! For all their new demands, they want to work hard and increase their responsibilities. They’re seeking training and reskilling programmes as part of an exceptional work environment. Yes, they want more of everything, but they don’t expect it straight away – having grown up in a world where time is of the essence, they just want to know exactly how to get there.

As a Gen Z, what do I make of it all?

The thought of finding my footing in a world of work that I’m told has rapidly changed over the last years – without much experience of it myself – can be a little daunting, a feeling I know is echoed by a large part of my generation. Whether you’re a graduate or fresh-faced teen, the increased job competition with experienced candidates following the pandemic can make it seem like we lack a necessary blend of workplace knowledge and specialist skills to stand out.

But we have plenty to offer, from our tech expertise to our determination to create a better workplace environment – something that’s often regarded as naivety but I think should not be underestimated

So why should you keep Gen Z in mind with how you go to market? Well, you’ll get passionate, tech-savvy candidates who are determined to succeed, as well as people with great soft skills. They’re estimated to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025, after all – so it pays to be ready for them!