As more Gen Zers enter the workforce, industry leaders must assess their operations, work tasks, and the benefits they offer to effectively recruit and retain these younger employees.
Gen Z in the workplace context
Gen Zs, the population group born between 1997 to 2012, are steadily entering the job market, encouraging businesses to change their work structure and company culture. Most members of this generation seek purpose-driven work where they feel empowered and can make a positive difference, driving them to prioritize working for companies committed to environmental and social changes. Additionally, Gen Z actively advocates for maintaining a balance in their private and professional lives.
Gen Z employees do not see work as merely a professional obligation but an opportunity for personal and professional growth. In 2021, Unilever established the Future of Work program, which seeks to invest in new employment models and skills-enhancing employability programs. As of 2022, the company has maintained a high employment level for its workers and is continually exploring new ways to support them. Various opportunities that Unilever investigated include partnerships with other companies, such as Walmart, to identify career pathways with comparable compensation. Unilever is setting itself up for long-term success by investing in its workers and staying true to its purpose.
These younger employees seek a workplace that offers flexible work arrangements, environmental accountability, career advancement opportunities, and employee diversity. Moreover, Gen Z is:
- The first generation of authentic digital natives, making them among the most tech-adept employees at the office.
- A creative and thought-provoking generation, bringing forward an overwhelming amount of new tools or solutions to businesses.
- Open to AI and automation in the workforce; they are willing to learn and integrate different tools.
- Adamant about the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the workplace, placing high emphasis on inclusive workplaces.
Integrating Gen Z employees into the workplace comes with significant advantages. Additionally, enterprises can provide opportunities for employee activism, such as paid time off to volunteer for environmental causes, matching donations to eco-friendly charities, and implementing flexible work environments.
Implications for Gen Z in the workplace
Wider implications of Gen Z in the workplace may include:
- Modifications to traditional work culture. For instance, altering the five-day work week to a four-day work week and prioritizing mandatory vacation days as mental well-being.
- Mental health resources and benefits packages including counseling becoming essential aspects of a total compensation package.
- Companies having a more digitally literate workforce with a majority of Gen Z workers, thereby allowing easier integration of artificial intelligence technologies.
- Companies being forced to develop more acceptable working environments as Gen Z workers are more likely to collaborate or join worker unions.
Questions to comment on
- How else do you think companies can better attract Gen Z workers?
- How might organizations create more inclusive work environments for varying generations?