Dona Senara reveals how Generation Z thinks and operates in the workplace

The largest and most disruptive generation ever will soon constitute the global workforce, which means that the future of work will depend on it. So why do corporates need Gen Z employees?

This generation is important because it represents the customers of tomorrow. Recent growth strategy projects have emphasised that individuals born between 1997 and 2012 are essential to businesses today as they represent the first generation that knows what the future will be made of.

Instead of their surface interests such as tastes or cultural quirks, companies are looking for information on how the Gen Z consumer is shaped by an unprecedented wave of social and technological changes.

According to Fahrenheit 212, young individuals have always been important to businesses primarily as the trigger for their future engagement and business models. Therefore, what sets them apart as a generation is social change.

Unlike with past generations, catering to Gen Z means more than coming up with new products, a different look and feel or fresh ways to advertise. It means designing for the society of tomorrow.

Interestingly, while millennials sought to revolutionise the social climate, Generation Z is keen to work within systems and generate change that won’t make them compromise on their needs.

One Mind at Work believes that businesses can employ and retain Gen Z employees by being flexible, providing mental health support, adhering to values and promoting career growth.

In terms of flexibility, most young employees value easygoing and adaptable work environments – notably, the option of remote work. This is because Gen Zs care greatly about the work-life balance.

A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) study, which sampled 35,000 workers across 34 markets, found that nearly two in four Gen Zs would rather remain unemployed than be in a job they don’t like.

In addition, an Oliver Wyman survey suggests that this generation of workers does not stigmatise job hopping and views work in a more transactional manner, unlike previous generations.

Wyman’s poll reveals that 85 percent of the 10,000 Gen Zs surveyed prefer hybrid or remote work patterns, which means that employers need to introduce flexible working structures to attract and retain young employees.

Gen Z employees also desire provisions for mental healthcare – many of them, it would seem, are struggling with mental health issues. For instance, the latest iteration of the McKinsey American Opportunity Survey (AOS) reports that 55 percent of 18-24 year olds have been diagnosed and/or are being treated for a mental illness.

For that reason, organisations must design their work environments to prioritise employee wellbeing and introduce mental healthcare policies that cover the interests of a younger workforce.

The demand for higher standards of diversity and equity is popular among Generation Z. Most young workers believe in the importance of an inclusive environment that not only supports diverse identities but also upholds the moral and ethical standards of an enterprise.

In a discussion at the WEF in Davos, McKinsey’s Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Francis pointed out that Gen Z wants organisations to maintain the same values internally and externally.

Lastly, career growth is a key factor for young workers; they seek enterprises that implement training and reskilling agendas. Insights from Glint’s Employee Well-Being Report 2021 reveal that opportunities to learn and grow have emerged as the strongest driver of today’s work culture.

Corporate leaders who want to attract, engage and retain young employees need to meet the new standards set by Generation Z. Even Sri Lankan workplaces should meet the expectations of Gen Z and try to fill the gap created by the brain drain with young talented workers.