Generation Z in the Workplace

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion

In honor of International Youth Day on August 12, we want to celebrate the youth and young adults now entering the global workforce — otherwise known as Generation Z. This year the United Nations selected the theme “Safe Spaces for Youth,” and given the current dialogue around safe and inclusive workspaces, we feel this is the perfect opportunity to look at what the new generation of young workers needs in order to feel safe, respected and supported in the work environment.

Managers, team leaders, and recruiters — we encourage you to take note. While you may think you’re up to speed on generational diversity research, Generation Z is already making an impact on the workforce. Here are some key factors that can help you attract and retain the newest generation of talent:

Give them face time (no, not Facetime)

Be careful not to judge a generation by its technology. Even though Generation Z (born 1995-2012) grew up in a completely wireless world, these fresh workers value face-to-face communication with employers and colleagues. In fact, one study indicates over half of Generation Zers prefer face-to-face communication over digital methods like instant messaging and video conferencing.1

We asked one of our very own Gen Zers, Data Entry Clerk Jasmine Lee, how she prefers to communicate with colleagues and employers:

“I prefer to communicate through face-to-face, but also email. Face-to-face is the easiest way to understand someone, and email is quick and reliable. I don’t mind phone calls or video conferencing when needed, but it can be unreliable, because of connection issues and it can be difficult to hear and understand others.”

— Data Entry Clerk, Jasmine Lee

Generation Z suddenly seems a whole lot more relatable…

Offer feedback and mentorship

One that note, Generation Z does not want to receive training from computers or other digital devices. Generation Z is looking for real engagement from their employer, through hands-on guidance, direction, support, and coaching. Gen Zers crave input and feedback and feel it is critical in order to be successful in a job.2

Be honest

Hopefully, you are already honest with your employees, as most workers tend to appreciate this from their employers. However, honesty means a lot more to Generation Z than it does to Generation Y (born 1977-1994), Generation X (born 1965-1976), or Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). Over half of Generation Z pollers state that honesty is the most important quality when it comes to being a good leader.5

If you want to earn the respect and trust of your newest generation of workers, make sure you are always transparent, upfront, and honest with them. An act of dishonesty can severely damage relationships with Gen Z workers.

Keep equity in mind

Another important key to earning the trust of Generation Z is providing equal opportunity for pay and promotion.6 Our resident Gen Zer shared:

“I wouldn’t work for a company that did not offer equal opportunity for pay and promotion… Since I am a woman and person of color, it would be difficult to navigate a system that didn’t offer equal opportunity… I wouldn’t trust a company that treats employees differently based on ethnicity, gender, and anything other than their work. Special treatment is not as important as fair treatment; I don’t want to be treated specially for who I am, but treated fairly despite my background.”

— Data Entry Clerk, Jasmine Lee

Gen Zers are not looking for special treatment — they want fair treatment, and trust companies that treat all people equally, regardless of differences. Generation Z also places behaving ethically high on the list of ways employers can establish trust.

Understand their desire for security

Generation Z is generally cautious and concerned about career stability after witnessing their parents financially struggle during the recession.7 This is likely to translate to higher organizational loyalty. Up to 49% of Gen Zers in a 2016 Randstad study believe they will stay at their current organizations for the entire duration of their careers.8

While Gen Zers see themselves as staying loyal to their companies, if they feel they are not being treated fairly or properly, they are willing to change companies — up to four different times — over the course of their careers.9

Allow for collaboration

Generation Z is social and does not want to work in solitude. Almost two-thirds of Gen Zers surveyed in a Robert Half study reported they would ideally like to work in collaboration with a small group, instead of alone or in collaboration with a large group.3

The surprising part: Generation Z’s least ideal work situation would be working off-site as a part of a virtual team.4 Even though this generation is by far the most technologically savvy, they do not have much interest in using technology as a way to telecommute to work.

Provide opportunities for growth

There are certain things employers can do to ensure Generation Z talent stays happy at their jobs. Studies show Generation Z is most motivated to take a job or stay in a position that offers opportunities for growth and advancement; second to this, Gen Zers want a financial reward. Of course, not all Gen Zers fit into this box.

We asked Jasmine what she considers to be the most important factor when considering a job offer:

“The most important factor currently [for me] when deciding to take a job, is money and flexibility. It is important for me to make enough money to support myself… but also be able to take time off, in case I have any doctor’s appointments and such to attend.”

— Data Entry Clerk, Jasmine Lee

If you keep in mind the general trends that satisfy Gen Zers in the workplace, while remembering every employee is a unique individual with his or her own needs, you have the potential to retain your Gen Z talent for years to come.



1,5,9 Schawbel, D. (2014, September 2). Millennial Branding and Randstad US Release First Worldwide Study Comparing Gen Y and Gen Z Workplace Expectations. Millennial Branding. Retrieved here.

2,3 Robert Half & Enactus. (2015). Get ready for Generation Z. Retrieved here.

4 Robert Half. (2015). Get ready for Generation Z Infographic. Retrieved here.

6 Ernst & Young Global Limited. (2016). Study: Trust in the Workplace – Generation Z Values. Retrieved here.

7 Bentley University Center for Women and Business. (2017). Multi-Generational Impacts on the Workplace: a Curated Research Report. Retrieved here.

8,10 Randstad. (2016). Gen Z and Millennials Collide at Work. Retrieved here.