The Future of Our Workforce: Here’s What Gen Z Really Wants From Employers

Eva-Katalin /
Eva-Katalin /

Members of Gen Z already make up roughly a quarter of the global workforce, and that percentage will obviously increase with time. So it’s important for employers to understand what to do to attract and retain these workers, who tend to have different career priorities than previous generations.

To get some insights into what Gen Z workers want — and don’t want — from their workplace, Zety surveyed over 200 Gen Z adults. Here’s what this generation expects from their employers.

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Gen Zers Want Meaningful Work

Money isn’t everything for this generation. Over half of Gen Zers (53%) said that it’s very important for their work to have meaning, and an additional 42% said it’s somewhat important. In fact, the survey found that 71% of Gen Zers would take a pay cut to do meaningful work. In addition, nearly half of Gen Zers (43%) said that one of their long-term career goals is to make the world a better place.

Gen Z Will Job Hop If Their Employer Isn’t Meeting Expectations

Most Gen Zers don’t plan to stay in their jobs forever — but they’re also not job-hopping as frequently as we may think. The majority (40%) said they plan to stay at their current job for two years. Only 15% plan to stay for one year and just 6% plan to stay for less than one year. On the other hand, however, only 1 in 5 plan to stay at their job for four years or more.

So, what would cause a Gen Zer to leave their job? Seventy-two percent said they would leave if they felt a clash in values with their employer, 50% would leave due to poor work-life balance, 47% would leave if they felt their work environment was toxic, 43% would leave due to a lack of professional development opportunities and/or an inability to advance within the company, and 41% would quit if they had to work overtime regularly.

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What Makes an Employer Appeal to Gen Z

When looking for a job, Gen Zers say the following factors have the most appeal: a good benefits package (67%), company values that match their own (62%), having a purpose for being that goes beyond merely making a profit (61%), plentiful career development and progression opportunities (59%) and strong brand reputation (49%).

“They want to work in roles that they are passionate about and be compensated fairly,” said Andrew Hunter, co-founder of the global job search engine Adzuna. “At the same time, they have a desire to feel connected to their organizations. What this means for businesses is that they must be transparent in salary offerings, and vocal about their benefits and how they create a positive work culture.”

The benefits that matter most to this generation are a flexible schedule (59%), the ability to work remotely (53%), competitive salary (50%), a robust healthcare plan (37%) and access to a retirement plan (29%). It’s not too surprising that flexible schedules and the ability to work remotely are at the top of this generation’s list.

“For some Gen Z, their entry into the world of work was during the pandemic. These individuals are fully acclimated to a remote setting, and the concept of working in an office is altogether alien,” said Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire. “The pandemic gave employees a true taste of the flexibility that comes with remote work, and understandably, they’re not keen on returning to the office.”

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On the other hand, Gen Z cares less about access to a company car, maternity/paternity benefits, wellness programs, free gym memberships and cash bonuses.

As for the career development opportunities Gen Z wants, their top request is the ability to work with coaches and mentors, with 71% valuing this perk. Other career development tools this generation would like access to through their employer include online courses (62%), the ability to collaborate with top performers on key projects (62%) and formal in-class training (31%).

Management Style Matters to Gen Z

Nearly half of Gen Zers said that they would leave a job due to a toxic work environment, and often, that environment is created by their managers (or their manager’s manager). As for what this generation wants from their bosses, the top desire is someone who expresses interest and concern for their well-being, with 54% saying this quality is important to them. Other qualities they look for in a boss include strong coaching skills and the ability to impart knowledge (53%), setting transparent performance criteria and evaluating objectively (48%), good communication (46%), providing timely and regular recognition (46%), being an expert in the field they manage (37%) and empowering them and their colleagues (34%).

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Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on The Future of Our Workforce: Here’s What Gen Z Really Wants From Employers