Gen Z in the Workplace: What Do They Want?

The eldest of Gen-Z are currently 26, making them very much established in the workplace already, though it remains increasingly clear that there are generational differences regarding workplace expectations.

Gen-Z are largely credited as being the first generation to understand the internet as a fundamental part of everyday life; indeed, they haven’t known anything else. Growing up with such access has allowed for a generation that is very proactive in their learning, always hungry for more enrichment – making them, perhaps, difficult to keep busy and engaged.

Understanding Gen-Z, including their pitfalls and their strengths, is surely the key to optimising their potential and developing lasting relationships in the workplace.

1. Opportunities for co-creation:

Gen-Z wants to feel heard, and they feel strongly about having agency over the future they’re building, and, further, that it’s meaningful. This is why they should be keenly consulted when it comes to brainstorming ideas and solving problems.

Though we all have access to the internet, it is Gen-Z and their successors who are accustomed to utilising it to its full potential. What’s more, opportunities where Gen-Z feels like they have a unique ability to solve a problem, or to create an idea, facilitate feelings of validation and fulfillment.

2. Mentoring & reverse-mentoring:

In an age where anxiety is endemic, any program designed to foster friendships and co-operation can only ever be a good thing.

On one hand, mentoring helps to bridge generational gaps between more seasoned employees and their new counterparts. Of course, the transfer of knowledge is key in this scenario, but the social benefits also can’t be underestimated. On the other hand, reverse-mentoring involves promoting a culture where Gen-Z feel comfortable advising their mentors.

3. Support for social causes:

It goes without saying that Gen-Z feel especially passionately towards political and ethical initiatives. Don’t fall into the trap of fearing this energy, instead, work with them to navigate these issues.

This could be decreasing the carbon footprint of the office, encouraging and facilitating volunteer work, championing a handful of charities, establishing focus groups within the organisation and so on.

We can proudly say Bain and Gray is an advocate of Equality Diversity and Inclusion. When these causes are treated as a priority and less of a burden, Gen-Z is able to feel proud of their workplace and are much more likely to deliver their best performance even if there aren’t extra incentives involved.

4. Curb bureaucracy:

Gen-Z have a strong sense of freedom (not to be confused with entitlement), and value their own space to work. They tend to resist any action aimed to control their views, or to hinder individual freedom. Further, limiting them through layers of bureaucracy will transpire as a waste of time, and leads to lower productivity.