Nearly two years into the pandemic, younger workers are making their requirements from the job market heard, and employers need to be aware. With 75% of Gen Z workers who quit their jobs recently saying they did so because of mental health concerns, employers need to adapt to create hiring and talent retention practices that meet the needs of this hugely important group.
Thousands of young workers use the Sort platform every day, and they're telling us that their attitude to work is different from that of previous generations. Here's what you need to know to make sure you're providing your Gen Z team members with the kind of working life they want and need.
1. They See 'Careers' Differently
The term 'career' is viewed differently by Gen Z than by any previous generation. We all know that the days of climbing the ladder at a single company are over, but for Gen Z things are radically different.
Younger employees are leaving their jobs in record numbers to work from home, enter the gig economy, or find a better work-life balance. Their values and motivations are different from those of previous generations, and if your company doesn't meet their needs, they will be happy to move on.
We've seen that in recent months with the 'great resignation' - or perhaps we should call it the 'great reassessment', with thousands of workers reflecting on what is really important to them and making career choices accordingly. We expect to see more and more younger workers reconsidering their roles and moving on to new jobs in the next year.
Gen Z tends to reject the idea that life is centered around work and instead wants to experience more of what life has to offer. A healthy work-life balance is essential to younger workers.
For companies, this means you are competing not just on the salary you can offer, but increasingly on the working conditions, flexibility, and support for other aspects of your team's life and ambitions that you are able to offer.
2. Company Culture is Crucial
Younger generations, but particularly Gen Z, place a high value on company culture. They have their own zero-tolerance policies when it comes to discrimination, harassment, and any unfair practices.
They tell us that poor culture is easy to spot from day one of the hiring process. From the way you talk about your company, customers, and colleagues, through to the approach you take to interviews and your onboarding support - every move you make reveals the way the company treats its team members.
Creating an authentic, inclusive, supportive culture is no longer a luxury or nice to have - it's essential if you want to compete to hire the talent you need.
And creating the culture is just the first step - you'll then need to demonstrate it in your recruitment communications, your employer brand, your hiring process at every step of the way.
They Tend to Value Work/Life Balance
When you have younger workers entering the workforce, Gen Z prioritises their personal life and free time more than previous generations. Long work hours are one of the biggest turn-offs for younger generations.
If your company requires them to be working long hours, then offering additional paid holiday time or the option to work from home will go a long way to improving job satisfaction among your younger employees.
They Want Stability
Gen Z was hit the hardest financially out of any generation during the Covid-19 pandemic, and they remember their parents during the Great Recession just over a decade ago. Because of this, Gen Z employees tend to prefer feedback, reassurance of their job security, and clarity on their hours.
If their job has rotating schedules, most Gen Z employees would prefer a consistent amount of hours weekly. Nobody wants to wait to find out when their next paycheck is coming.
This is especially true when most of Gen Z faces crippling student loan debt - they need to know their job will cover their basic expenses.
They Want to Work Flexibly
While it depends heavily on the individual, it's no surprise that many tech-savvy Gen Zers would have an interest in flexible working. If your company allows certain positions the option of remote work or hybrid working, your younger employees will appreciate it.
However, many Gen Z workers also tell us they value the social connections they get when working face-to-face. Starting your first job and spending eight hours a day stuck in your bedroom can be really hard on people so the key word here is balance.
The most important thing for employers to do here is to listen and respond - if remote work or hybrid working is an option, talk to your employees and see if that's something they want, and be prepared to be flexible to suit individual needs.
3. Mental Health is a Real Concern
Gen Z knows the value of their mental health. With rising rates of mental health problems amongst this group and more than 7 in 10 Gen Zers reporting feeling symptoms of depression during the pandemic, this should be a key area of focus for employers.
Gen Zers thrive in a supportive and understanding work environment, and have little tolerance for rigidity, negativity, being patronised or belittled. Essentially, they have little to no patience for a toxic work environment, and why should they?
Employee retention will suffer among younger employees if their mental health is not taken into consideration. Offering health insurance that covers mental health treatment, mental health resources at the office, training around the issue, and more sensitivity in the workplace will go a long way - but this is really about care and respect for the people you hire. Support your people and they will support you.
Burnout Is Real
There's also a high risk that younger employees will experience a form of burnout in a rigid work structure. Being micromanaged or overcrowded in their work environment for 40 hours a week is not something they will tolerate or that is healthy for any worker, but for this group, it's particularly important.
The problem runs deeper than you may think. More than 9 in 10 Gen Zers say they've experienced stress-related symptoms including depression (58%) or another in the last year. You can expect that to be a huge concern for most younger employees.
Gen Z employees tend to value space, breaks, and time off. If they don't get any of that, then they are unlikely to remain in a position over the long term.
If you care about employee retention, which you should, then ask your staff for feedback about their work environment. Gen Zers are known for being honest and direct, so they'll be happy to provide feedback and will likely have some great suggestions.
4. They Thrive in Meaningful Purpose-driven Work Environments
Younger workers tell they don't just want a positive work environment, they want to work for organisations that are purpose-driven and committed to having a positive impact on the world.
This doesn't have to be embedded in the products and services the company creates, although it does help, but it can be through a commitment to society, the environment, a mission or good cause.
Gen Z is very mission and value-driven and this group is highly influential in placing pressure on brands to take a stand on social issues that they care about.
Protecting the environment, climate change, mental health, racial justice, and anti-bigotry tend to be the most important causes to members of Generation Z.
Your Employer Brand and Gen Z
Gen Z employees are the future of all our organisations, so it's vitally important that employers understand how best to engage this group. This is where Sortyourfuture.com can help.
More than 600,000 young people use the Sort platform to explore their career options, and to find employers and opportunities based on their interests, skills, and ambitions.
Find out more about how we can help you connect with your future workforce at sortyourfuture.com/business.