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How Gen Z is Changing the Workplace

We all know the popular assumption that “nobody wants to work anymore.” It’s a phrase people have said for over a century, resurfacing as members of Generation Z (born 1997 to 2012) enter the workforce. 


In a viral X (formerly known as Twitter) thread, user Paul Fairie went through “A Brief History of Nobody Wants to Work Anymore,” tracking the phrase from 2022 all the way back to 1894. Each generation has heard it from the one before.


Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z wants to work, they’re just doing it differently. The key to attracting and retaining Gen Z workers is to pay them what they deserve, give them a purpose, and appeal to their wants and needs.


Appeal to their unique economic needs.

Gen Z workers are economically driven and they know their worth. With the cost of living on a steady rise, they need an appropriate income that covers rent, groceries, and health needs. But, they don’t want to dedicate their entire income to those basic necessities. This generation prioritizes experiences, and they want disposable income to spend on travel, concerts, and date nights. 


In fact, 70% of Gen Zers named salary as their top work motivator. Growing up during multiple recessions, Gen Z is familiar with economic instability. When looking for career opportunities, they prioritize a higher salary so they don’t have to struggle if a similar event occurs. 


Gen Z is so concerned about saving money that almost a third of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 still live at home with their parents or other family members. With real estate interest rates and mortgages being so high, many are choosing to instead live with family longer.


For Gen Z, benefits are just as— if not more— important than the salary. Offering healthcare, a 401k match, stock, parental leave, mental health, and substantial time off benefits are just a few ways to capture their hearts. 


Show them your business’ “why.”

Your business’ purpose fuels your employees’ purpose. Give them something to strive and root for, and Gen Z workers will arrive ready to do their best every day. These employees expect inclusion and belonging in the workplace, especially as the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in the history of the United States. They bring their values to work, expecting employers to enforce and recognize similar ones. 


To foster passion in your Gen Z employees, prioritize the “why” over the “what.” It’s not about what your business does but why you do it, why it was created, and why it’s a better option compared to your competitors. The “why” is where Gen Z workers find their purpose. Work to close the gap between your employees’ day-to-day work and your company’s mission. The less connection between these two elements, the more likely you are to have disengaged workers. 


Make an emphasis on helping your employees achieve their own personal and professional goals. An employee who is personally fulfilled outside of the workplace is more likely to be successful at the workplace. It’s a win for them as well as a win for your company. Quick-serve restaurant Raising Cane’s is a prime example. Raising Cane’s offers significant financial packages, including 401k and health insurance opportunities, as well as tools for employees to grow within and outside of their company. They supply team members with financial wellness tools, tuition reimbursement, and even free online learning accessible to family members. On top of professional development, Raising Cane’s provides various shopping and service discounts. They show that they care about their employees and want them to succeed.


Foster opportunities for professional development during the workday. Gen Z employees want to know that there’s room to grow at your company. Offer free courses, opportunities to further education, and certifications to boost employee satisfaction. 


Try new ways to improve the work-life balance.

This generation favors free time, and they’re willing to work for it. To attract and retain Gen Z workers, consider reducing the work week to four days, leaving three days off. Four-day work weeks increased the health of many employees, with 40 percent sharing they had less work-related stress and 71 percent reporting lower levels of burnout. People are even more productive in 32 hours instead of 40, finding new ways to be efficient during work hours. 


Who doesn’t love a nice, paid vacation? Offering generous vacation time packages is another way to appeal to Gen Z, who return to work more energized and motivated than ever after some much-needed time off


Border Foods, a quick-serve restaurant chain, is an industry leader in maintaining work-life balances for its employees. Competitive hourly wages and employee development are just a small part of their overall package. The company has a fantastic paid vacation system, encouraging employees to take their deserved time off. Team members also have the opportunity to donate their vacation time to their peers who need it, should they choose not to use it.


Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial for Generation Z employees, mostly because they want to know their employers care about them outside of the service they provide. As an employer, be attentive. Resolve any existing or potential issues with genuine solutions so your employees know that they are important to you and your business.


It’s essential to show appreciation toward your employees. Take Cisco, for example. Cisco developed a peer-to-peer recognition program to focus on the company’s core values and drive employee engagement. Team members can recognize each other for their hard work, encouraging them to interact with each other and boost productivity. The main benefit for Cisco, though, is an increase in employee satisfaction. It’s a chance for employees to know their strengths and be recognized for them. 


Establishing a strong company culture will help your team collaborate better. Take opportunities for team building exercises, send team members out to lunch together to celebrate their hard work, and create social events during work hours. It’s worth it to show employees that you care.


Why do we need Gen Z in the workplace?

As the largest emerging workforce, Generation Z sets the path for the future. Their size alone gives Gen Z workers instant relatability with youth demographics crucial for growth. With worldviews embracing diversity and inclusion, Gen Z upgrades workplace culture as well. 


Companies that take the time to understand priorities around flexibility, purpose and inclusion will be rewarded by this generation's self-motivated work ethic and compassion uplifting teams. By proactively realigning business objectives with Gen Z’s worldviews, companies can empower these stakeholders while organically strengthening diversity and creativity. Making Generation Z a corporate priority equals better talent retention and preparation for long-term growth. The bottom line is that the workforce of tomorrow is already here— and embracing what sets them apart also sets businesses up for sustainable success.


Don’t wait to boost your employee experience to meet the needs of Gen Z. Contact The ExperienceBuilt Group for a workplace audit today!

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