Is your workplace ready for Gen Z?

For starters Gen Z are people born between 1995-2012. This is a generation whose identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate change effects, a shifting financial landscape and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a global research report by Steelcase, a global office furniture company, 54% of Gen Z workers believe the value of the workplace actually increased over the pandemic. In comparison only 42% of Millennials, 30% of Gen X, and 23% of Boomers believe the value of the workplace actually increased over the pandemic. The report also showed that 73% of Gen Z believes space is highly or extremely important to the effectiveness of the company they work for.

Africa as a continent has the youngest population in the world, with 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30. Such a high number of Gen Z’s is an opportunity for the continent’s growth – but only if this generation is fully empowered to realize their best potential as this represents the continents human capital workforce for the foreseeable future. In addition to this Gen Z will represent almost a third of the global workforce by 2025 and will play a big role in shifting attitudes and perceptions.

What does Gen Z want from the future of work?

Gen Z is already becoming the dominant consumer group and culture driver. Companies will need to appeal to this generation if they want to stay relevant and competitive. While Gen Z’s identity is still forming, it’s critical that employers understand the unique challenges this generation faces and support them as they begin their careers. If they don’t, they risk getting left behind.

In a 2021 survey conducted by Adobe, 59% of Gen Z respondents reported feeling dissatisfied with their job. Struggles with work-life balance, long work hours, time stress, and a lack of flexibility were other leading causes of dissatisfaction, with 57% percent saying they felt pressured to be reachable at all times of the day.

The research by Adobe also found that 62% of Gen Z surveyed globally felt pressured to work from 9 am to 6 pm despite feeling more productive at other hours of the day. 26% reported feeling most productive from 6 pm to 3 am—nearly 10% points higher than any other generation reported feeling during that time.

Research shows Gen Z does favor a return to office but not full-time. In a survey conducted by the Workforce Institute in 2019, 51% of Gen Z respondents said they were motivated by enjoyable work. With 57% saying they expect to be promoted once a year, career advancement and meaningful recognition are also big motivators. Gen Z values salary less compared to other generations although it is a factor considered in deciding whether or not to take up a job: If given the choice of accepting a better-paying but boring job versus work that was more interesting but didn’t pay as well, Gen Z was fairly evenly split over the choice.

What does this mean for employers?

Given Gen Z has the ability to demand greater personalization in shaping their career paths, for organizations to attract and retain the best of the generation, it will require a different mindset. A few recommendations for employers are;

  • A company should provide opportunities for career growth and advancement. Gen Zs prefer to work with organizations that have an internal promotion policy and companies need to have learning and development programs that they have access to and based on learnings and competencies exhibited or developed growth opportunities taken up.
  • Gen Zs are open-minded and have a preference for a work environment with diverse cultural, racial, sexual, and educational backgrounds and orientations. Companies will therefore need to promote diversity and inclusion as part of it’s culture.
  • A company needs to embrace technology and meet the technology needs of this generation to help improve work efficiency and productivity. Remember, this generation has little or no knowledge of life before the internet, social media, and smart devices.
  • Leverage the expertise of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers to help mentor Gen Z into strong leaders as they are the future of the workplace.
  • A company or employer will need to highlight their efforts to be good global citizens. The Environmental, Social and Governance Strategy of the company will enhance reputation and ability to attract and retain Gen Z talent.
  • Research has shown that Gen Zs have a tendency to feel stressed easily. In light of this, companies should invest in employee wellness programs that will encourage work life balance and focus on mental wellness too.

Gen Z is ready to build a better future not only for themselves but also for the future generations and the older workers who have gone before them. Whether this future involves working for your company will be determined by the ability of the business to adapt and respond to the generational requirements.

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