Did you contribute to the Great Resignation? If you are an older worker, filled with the worry of not finding a better job or the dread of job seeking, you likely watched from the sidelines as millions of younger employees quit their jobs in search of something better. But if you are earlier in your career, like Generation Z — people born between 1996 and 2010 — data shows you were more prone to action.
The Gen Z members of the workforce have been driving the mass exodus, according to a global study by Adobe. Not to be confused with their older, more tenured Millennial colleagues, Gen Zers are known to place emphasis on mission, purpose, diversity and inclusion. Additionally, Gen Z employees are more vocal about their desire for competitive wages, schedule flexibility and benefits. They look for integrity and transparency at work and vote with their feet when faced with an undesirable work environment.
What Matters to Gen Z Workers?
Gen Zers are often referred to as digital natives. As the first generation with phones in their hands at an early age, they are connected to the world through 24/7 internet, gaming and media access. This expansive connection and awareness has increased a commitment and passion for equity and ethical business practices. They have seen injustices from around the world online and many Gen Zers have made a commitment to support causes that are meaningful to them. At the same time, the isolation of a predominately online world and the recent pandemic has enhanced the desire to belong and an interest in genuine social, in-person connection. Here are some notable characteristics of Gen Z employees at work.
Mental Health Matters
A recent survey by TalentLMS and BambooHR found that more than 1 in 3 working Gen Zers find it difficult to cope with pressure and stress at work. These early career professionals are less likely to subscribe to the “put your time in” mentality that fueled career growth in older generations. Instead, as pressure or burnout increases, they are more willing to be vocal, seek support or leave the source of the stress.
Willing to Make Changes, Take Risks
Gen Zers are action oriented when their needs or goals are not being met. With little or no experience trying to find work in a downturn or economic depression and optimism about greener pastures, these drivers of the Great Resignation were willing to leave a bad employment relationship even without another job lined up.
Looking for Connection and Feedback
Gen Z employees value a “whole-person” approach to work, where the individual is seen and valued for being a complex human with more to contribute than just what is in the job description. According to a 2021 Forbes article, 90% of Gen Z workers want and value a human connection when it comes to their at-work communication, and 60% of Gen Zers want weekly, if not daily check-ins from their manager.
They Prioritize Flexibility
“Flexibility in when and where they work is important for 81% of Gen Z employees,” according to the research from TalentLMS and BambooHR. Open to breaking outdated standards, this generation is not alone in its desire to work in a way that is most productive. Employers that trust employees to make good decisions, value productivity over hours put in, and enable flexibility rate highly among Gen Z workers. Most early career workers prefer a mix of remote and in-person work. This hybrid model facilitates the need to work the way they want and allows opportunities for in-person connection, mentorship and development.
Committed to Learning
LinkedIn reports that from 2015 to 2021, LinkedIn members’ skills for the same occupation changed by about 25%. “At this pace, we expect members’ skills will have changed by about 40% by 2025,” according to the company’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report. According to an article from Forbes, last year’s report stated that 67% of Gen Zers spent more time learning in 2020 on the LinkedIn Learning platform than in 2019, and they logged 50% more hours watching online courses than other generations. Gen Zers know the value of continuously evolving skills and understand the importance of growing, learning and being challenged at work. Their quest for knowledge will serve them well as technology and jobs evolve at record speeds.
The Gen Z workforce’s openness and quest for new and often better ways of working, communicating, growing and driving impact on a local and global scale has resulted in many positive changes for all employees. In the past couple of years, as these employees expressed dissatisfaction, innovative companies answered the call to make meaningful improvements. Many of these positive changes and the most productive environments result from harmonizing the differences and shared values of multiple generations to get the best result.
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Update 05/23/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.