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What Does Gen Z Want From Work?

April 10, 2024   ·  

Generation Z.

A term that might refer to you. One that will be inextricably linked with TikTok in some minds. And, for some, a term that sparks fear.

Here’s what the UK’s fastest-growing population wants from the workplace.


Who is Gen Z? 

Gen Z refers to anyone born between 1997 and 2012, so those currently aged between 12 and 26.

The older half of this group represents the newest entrants to the world of work, and Glassdoor predicts their numbers will overtake those of Baby Boomers in the full-time workforce this year.

But here’s the thing: Gen Z are not just new to work, they are the future of work.

Why does that scare some people?

Because this generation wants things to be better than it was for their parents.

They expect it to be better.

And they will demand it to be better.

Otherwise, they’re highly likely to go elsewhere.

The best part?

This generation is not just pushing their own agenda. They’re driving bottom-up change, raising the expectations and standards of their older colleagues, and shaping the workplaces they enter.

You’d do well to listen to them, as we explore below. 


What does Gen Z want from employers? 

Spoiler alert: It's not pizza Fridays... 


Gen Z want to feel heard 

This generation wants to use their voice at work, and they want to feel heard and valued while doing so.

A recent study from Thought Exchange (1) found that 96% of Gen Z say it’s important they feel valued, included, and empowered at work…

… and 54% of those who DO feel that way say it’s because they feel heard by their leaders.

But here’s the kicker: 59% of those who do not feel heard are hesitant to share their feedback and ideas due to a lack of anonymity.

Your Gen Z employees might be ‘junior’, but that doesn’t mean they’re ok with being ignored by their seniors.

So, what can you do about it?

Provide safe, anonymous feedback channels to make sure you’re hearing from everyone.

Gen Z want to be part of the conversation 

If one thing is clear about this generation, it’s that they’re not going to be passive bystanders who wait around for their next directive.

They’ve grown up in an ultra-connected digital world, so they’re probably going to see an annual engagement survey as a little behind the times, to say the least.

What’s more, this generation is less hierarchical than others. Research from Stanford scholar Roberta Katz (2) found that Gen Z  prefers consensus leadership, and likes to take a pragmatic, collaborative approach to meeting goals.

Gen Z want to contribute. They want to be involved in change. They want to help shape the future of your business.

To stimulate a culture of continuous learning and innovation, facilitate two-way dialogue that combines complete transparency with complete anonymity.

Gen Z want growth and development

Unsurprisingly, learning and development is crucial for these new entrants to the workforce.

80% of Gen Zs would prefer to have a job that allows them to explore and grow various skill sets, rather than one that’s focused on a particular set of skills (1).

This generation is sometimes unfairly labeled as job-hoppers, but the data begs to differ.

34% of respondents to the Thought Exchange survey said they want to stay in their job for at least 5 years, while 28% plan to stay indefinitely (1).

Employers: If you want loyalty and retention, give your newest recruits the room and resource to grow and develop – or watch them leave.

Find out what your people need to succeed with active employee listening


Gen Z want employers to prioritise their wellbeing 

This is a biggie for Gen Z, who speak more openly and honestly about mental health and wellbeing than anyone else – helping to dismantle the stigma that’s married discussion of these topics for far too long.

Indeed, organisations and leaders can learn a lot from their youngest employees when it comes to workplace wellbeing.

Deloitte’s latest Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that 8 in 10 respondents cite mental health support and policies as a top factor when considering a potential employer (3).

These days, meditation apps and gym memberships won’t cut it. All of your people – not just Gen Z – deserve a more proactive, impactful approach to employee wellbeing.

We’ve got a guide on that here.


Gen Z want to hear what you're doing for ESG 

This generation cares, deeply.

Gen Z won’t compromise on their values, especially when it comes to the environment and diversity and inclusion, and this applies to the work their employer is doing on these subjects.

58-73% of Gen Zs would leave or have already left a company due to differing values (1).

Meanwhile, Deloitte’s report highlights that 50% say they and their colleagues are pressuring businesses to take more action on climate change (3).

Don’t let your employees know about your ESG initiatives in a memo; bring them into the conversation and give them a role in change.


Gen Z expect a good work-life balance 

87% of Gen Z say that work-life balance is a critical factor in deciding on jobs.

This is becoming a priority for employees more widely, but it’s especially acute for this generation.

They were not in work before the pandemic, so inflexible work doesn’t just seem unfair but downright absurd.

It’s vital to note that work-life balance means different things to different people, and ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies will fall short of creating a positive culture.

For instance, over half of Gen Z think hybrid work is positive for their mental health, while others struggle with isolation or are worried about proximity bias putting them at a disadvantage.

This highlights the need for a nuanced approach to working patterns and styles that’s founded on listening to your people – really listening.


Want to retain your Gen Z employees? Start by listening 

As we’ve already said, Gen Z aren’t just new to work – they’re the future of work.

So, whether you like it or not, it’s well worth your while to take into account what matters to them if you want to recruit and retain a diverse and high-performing workplace.

The concept of employer brand is becoming ever more critical, and organisations that take the points outlined above seriously will win the support and loyalty of this youngest working generation.

From collective sensemaking and decision-making to meaningful communication around ESG activity, you can better serve your Gen Z employees with an impactful employee listening strategy.

Interested in finding out more more about live employee listening? Why not book a virtual coffee with us.



(1): Thought Exchange's 2023 Gen Z at Work Report 

(2): Roberta Katz, Stanford Research 

(3): Deloitte's 2023 Gen Z & Millennial Survey 



Lydia Blundell
Lydia Blundell

Brand & Content Manager , Connect with Lydia on LinkedIn

Employee engagementHealthy companiesCultureInclusionMotivation

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