Toolbox: Generation Z In The Workplace

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Gen Z workers will make up 30 percent of the workforce by 2030. These employees have different work styles, expectations, and values than previous generations. As an employer, you’ll want to understand just what those are in order to optimize the work environment for everyone. What does your business need to know about Gen Z in the workplace?

Gen Z are those workers who were born after 1996 until 2012. While only some in this generation have been in the workforce for a few years now, generally speaking, there are some common characteristics members share when it comes to their employment. These include:

  • They value diversity;
  • They are highly collaborative and social;
  • They want to align who they are with what they do;
  • They are focused on pay transparency and equitable benefits; 
  • They want career growth opportunities; 
  • They value flexibility; 
  • They prioritize self-care.

The Gen Z characteristics can bring valuable benefits to you as an employer. For example, even though they have an unprecedented digital connection, they crave real-life connection and place a high value on offline relationships. This attribute can help enhance your culture and engagement levels.

In addition, they are competitive, ambitious, and work hard. Even though nearly half of Gen Z have numerous side hustles, while they’re working for you, they’ll be willing to put in the extra hours if they’re rewarded for it.

They are also intensely focused on problem-solving. They have seen the global community face everything from climate change to inequality and want to roll up their sleeves to fix things. As an employer, this can be another advantage of having Gen Z in the workplace since their  solution-seeking nature can help move your business forward more effectively.

Lastly, since they are mission-driven and want to feel connected to a company’s values. If what you stand for resonates with them, they will care deeply. That passion can help you further your purpose and bring positive change.

As you seek to appeal to this younger generation that represents the future of work, it’s important to be aware of several things Gen Z is looking for from their employer.

Flexible work arrangements. Being able to choose where and when they work is at the top of Gen Z’s wish list. In fact, 72 percent of Gen Z employees have left or considered leaving a job due to an inflexible work policy. To attract these workers and show that you value Gen Z in the workplace, prioritize work-life balance and their personal well-being by offering flexibility and independence. That may mean remote work, a four-day workweek, or even letting them set their own hours as long as they accomplish their tasks.

Career advancement. These younger workers want an employer that invests in them and offers career growth opportunities. It’s important to note that they want to grow quickly, so providing training programs early and often is key. Beyond traditional training, consider opportunities for them to work alongside experienced peers, mentors, and coaches. And, as they grow, give them a chance to contribute and lead.

Non-traditional benefits. Beyond traditional medical and dental, they want access to more progressive benefits. These perks can include mental health days, unlimited PTO, wellness stipends, and financial wellness, as well as activities that create a sense of community – all of which may help address rising stress levels.

A sense of purpose. As we discussed earlier, these workers want work with a purpose that gives them a sense of fulfillment and allows them the chance to make an impact on society. In fact, 93 percent of workers say that a company’s impact on society affects their decision to work there. To appeal to Gen Z in the workplace, it’s important to highlight your efforts to be good global citizens in your communications. Be sure to include tangible examples so that these employees feel your mission and values are authentic.

Higher pay. A competitive salary is another of the most important benefits Gen Z is looking for, with 63 percent saying it’s a must-have. Be sure you review your salaries to make sure they’re in line with the market or you risk these young employees leaving. This is especially important now, as Gen Z faces increasing economic instability and rising cost of living.

As the newest generation in the workforce, and one that will soon make up a significant part of it, it’s important to understand these employees and their motivations. That way, you can meet them where they are to optimize their place in your company. For more tips on how to embrace Gen Z in the workplace alongside other generations, read our next article on the importance of an age-diverse workplace.

Karyn H. Rhodes is vice president HR Solutions at Complete Payroll Solutions. She specializes in all areas of human resources, including strategic planning, employee and labor relations, recruiting, compliance, training and development, compensation and benefits, policies and procedures, organizational development, executive coaching, workforce planning, and affirmative action plans. More info at