We have likely all been told “the future of the world is in your hands” at some point in our lives. Well in this day and age, the future of the world is quite literally in Generation Z’s hands.
Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, is the newest generational cohort of individuals born between the years 1997-2012. These individuals are technical experts with a deep passion for social and environmental causes, who value independence and are certainly no strangers to going after and getting what they want.
Generation Z is beginning to fill in the population group of young professionals in the workplace. They bring a fresh and unique perspective, perhaps shaped by the impactful events they have endured and overcome during their lifetime. Their one-of-a-kind characteristics, digital fluency, and drive for change and success make a lasting impact on the workplace.
Gen Z was raised being immersed in technology and thus are not fazed by our constantly evolving and digitized world. This generation is known as “digital natives,” hinting at their innate ability to process and utilize a variety of technology. Growing up in a world that is driven by social media, smartphones, the internet, and constant connectivity, Gen Z implements a new way of thinking, communicating, creating, and understanding digital tools and platforms in their work routines. These proficiencies have led to tremendous growth in organizational efficiency.
As many of us experienced, the Covid pandemic greatly changed our way of normal life. For example, the way we traditionally viewed and did work is not that way anymore. Instead of the typical 9-5, 5-days-a-week work schedule, we are seeing upward trends in working remotely with a more flexible schedule.
Gen Z is a population that favors a work-life balance, so it is no surprise that there is an increase in demand for flexible schedules and remote work options. However, this remote style of working is only feasible if employees know how to use technology, which is a key attribute of the Gen Z population.
As mentioned previously, this generation has strong opinions and is not afraid to advocate and fight for what they believe is right. Gen Z is often the main group of individuals who protest controversial topics and demand changes. They are committed to fighting for justice for all and doing what is ethically right.
In the workplace, this mindset will come in handy as they will always generate new ideas with different methods for implementation. Gen Z employees do not fall into the common “groupthink,” but instead, they challenge their co-workers by presenting different and unheard perspectives. They push for corporate social responsibility, they are committed to their work, they are considerate of other employees, and they are driven to achieve success for their company.
One way Gen Z has uniquely influenced the workplace culture is through their continuous desire to learn and seek growth opportunities. They enjoy “social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process.” In other words, they value involvement and interaction, and being in a fully immersive learning environment. In the workplace, this means they value the opportunity of taking on a task themselves and being given extensive feedback and mentorship through the completion process.
Generation Z has also proven to have a strong desire for autonomy and entrepreneurial opportunities. One key factor that has influenced this craving is Gen Z’s parents and guardians.
Most of Gen Z’s parents are viewed as “helicopter parents,” who tend to be very traditional in their ways, opposed to change, and are very career driven. While Gen Z is very driven in their careers too, it is for a different reason.
During the 2008 recession, a lot of Gen Z saw firsthand their parents being laid off from their jobs. This initiated a mindset and attitude of “I’m not going to let this happen to me” and brought about a strong desire for independence. “There’s an independent streak about Gen Z in taking care of their future; they don’t have it all figured out, but they don’t see the point of working for a big company for any number of years when they can just lay you off with the snap of a finger.”
Mental Health became increasingly important after the Covid-19 pandemic. Living in a time that was so dark, with limited interactions and places to go, and no light at the end of the tunnel visible, Gen Z’s and the overall population’s mental health suffered. However, because we all survived it, we are mentally tougher and more aware of how to take care of our minds.
Gen Z has made it a priority to support and focus on mental health and wellness awareness. They are taking action by being willing to discuss their mental health, prioritizing it even more than their physical health, and they are implementing wellness programs and other mental health initiatives. As a result, we are seeing Gen Z’s heightened awareness and attention to mental health, we are seeing them advocate for a work-life balance with a flexible schedule, and we are seeing their demand for supportive and inclusive workplace cultures.
Gen Z has undeniably left a lasting impact and brought about significant changes in the workforce. Their tech-savviness, dedication to creating a just environment, eagerness to learn and grow, drive for independence and success, and increased prioritization of mental health are just a few ways they have changed the way we work.
Organizations must be ready to adapt to these needs, as they are the newest and upcoming group of working professionals. Gen Z requires workplace design to be a priority for companies they consider working for, which means creating a workplace that addresses the unique needs and drivers of this generation is a lever that your organization can pull to attract and retain this important talent pool.
If you need help implementing these organizational changes and maximizing your company's “culture, brand, and unique values,” then Workplace Integration is here for you! After all, Gen Z is in control of what our future looks like.