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What Does Gen Z Want? To Make an Impact

Of workers quitting or changing jobs these past few months as part of the Great Resignation/Great Reshuffle, the largest percentage of those making a career switch are Generation Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012. According to LinkedIn, which is tracking the trend, there’s an 80% increase year over year in job transitions across its platform among Gen Z. For all generations, the figure is 54%.

What Does Gen Z Want? To Make an ImpactAnother survey by Deloitte reveals that Gen Z has actually overtaken the Millennials Generation as the generation most interested in leaving their companies, with over 50% actively thinking about changing their jobs in the next two years.

Why the switching among our youngest workers? Are they unhappy at work? What are they looking for? In this tight talent market, what do employers need to do to hire-and retain-them?

There are numerous studies with findings that answer these questions. The Society for Human Resource Management, for example, reports that its members (HR professionals and recruiters), as well as members of Gen Z themselves, say the young workers are laser-focused on genuine growth opportunities and an upbeat work environment that fosters innovation—and “developing insights into the company’s individual brand can be critical for Generation Z employees.”

Says LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, “These are professionals who want to make sure they bring their whole self to work.”

Barry Smith - Genesis10 Summer InternTo learn more about the generation and work, we checked in with Barry Smith, a junior at East Carolina University, who is studying management information systems. Barry spent the summer working as an intern with the Genesis10 team in Charlotte, learning the staffing business. As part of his internship, he completed a capstone project that looked at what Gen Z seeks in an employer. Barry is a member of Gen Z. Among the findings from his capstone, Gen Z is looking for:

  • Authenticity
  • Financial stability
  • Benefits and perks

Let’s tackle these one by one.

Authenticity icon

First, Barry tells us that Gen Z is immune to obvious marketing campaigns. Gen Z is looking for the real deal, authenticity from their employer. That means, he says, that workers of his generation want to work for companies that share the same cultural values. They read company mission statements and like to see statements about a firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion policy.

In fact, 86% of current Gen Z workers say that a company’s commitment to diversity in the workplace is an important factor when deciding to accept a job offer. Once hired 78% of Gen Z employees report that they would start looking for new jobs if diversity was not represented in the company.

Where is Gen Z looking for information? Social media, of course. YouTube, Tik Tok and Instagram are preferred platforms for finding information about companies and job opportunities. Gen Z especially likes employee testimonials and mini tutorials. But the content, Barry says, has to grab their attention.

Financial Stability IconAs for financial stability, the older members of Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession. “We saw first-hand a time of financial instability and uncertainty,” Barry tells us. “We are risk-averse to the point that we are looking for financial stability from the company we are thinking about working for.” So, Gen Z is going to look at a company’s financial statements and/or google the company’s financial standing. Gen Z, Barry assures us, does a lot of background research on companies before they accept a job offer. A company’s financial stability (as well as whether it has a history of regularly downsizing its workforce) factors into a young person’s accepting a job offer. This is a generation that does its homework.

Likewise, Gen Z also is researching how companies responded to the pandemic. If they responded well, it’s a green light. “If they responded poorly, we will do more research to learn why they responded poorly to the pandemic,” Barry tells us.

Benefits IconFinally, benefits and perks. Generation Z is looking for a company that provides a good medical insurance plan, paid time off, and a 401K plan. “I would go as far as say that benefits are more important than salary,” he says. “This goes back to financial stability, making sure the company has our back. Generation Z is not going to stay at companies unless they really grab us. Stability is a huge part of that.” As for other kinds of perks like those the Millennials sought, like a fridge stocked with free refreshments, are they important? For Gen Z, they are always cool, but not a necessity or deal-breaker.

In addition to authenticity, financial stability, and benefits, Gen Z also is looking for a company that provides a flexible work environment and, with that, work-life balance. Young people today also seek out companies that provide professional development and training opportunities (i.e., rotational programs), and affinity groups, and networking opportunities.

“Frankly, I think Generation Z really looking to come in, make an impact, and hit the ground running,” says Barry. “If a company is willing to help with the learning curve, and there will be one for Generation Z coming in with very little work experience, it will be a good partnership. Members of Gen Z really will make an impact on any company they aspire to.”