It’s safe to say employee expectations rarely remain the same across generations.
Generally speaking, today’s workers value inclusivity, sustainability and work-life balance far more than the last, and the next may have an altogether different set of priorities.
Gen Z (those born 1997-2012), the latest group to enter the workforce, has also been presented with its own set of challenges: getting to grips with the rising cost of living and an historic shift to hybrid working brought about by the pandemic.
These are inevitably having a dramatic impact on expectations in the workplace.
Experts from CoachHub, the leading global digital coaching platform, have delved into the values held by Gen Z to offer advice to senior leaders on how to adapt their workplace policies to meet employee needs.
Socially responsible work
Research published by Deloitte earlier this year revealed almost four in 10 Gen Z employees have refused to carry out work assignments due to ethical concerns.
As a whole, this younger age bracket seems intent on seeking roles that conform with their drive for environmental sustainability and social impact, putting pressure on organisations to have strong ESG credentials.
“Younger and older employees alike are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainable business practices,” says Mat Piaggi, Behavioural Scientist at CoachHub.
“All businesses should demonstrate clear commitments to ESG and regularly communicate with employees about how these commitments are progressing.”
Investment in learning and development
Being given the opportunity to invest in professional development is unquestionably a key priority for Gen Z.
Typically, learning and development opportunities for junior employees remain limited to on-the-job training or, at times, external courses, but Gen Z workers are looking to access a personalised programme of regular upskilling.
Businesses must therefore up their game by investing in employee skills and offering them the kinds of development opportunities that are usually reserved for senior leaders.
“It’s up to businesses to ensure that they are fulfilling their employees’ appetite for growth,” adds Juliane Sterzl, SVP Global Sales at CoachHub.
“Organisations can do so by offering a digital-first and personalised professional development programme. This scalable approach allows employees to target the topics and challenges that matter most to them in a convenient and seamless format.”
Flexible working practices
That is certainly the case for Gen Z workers, who are driven by a desire to achieve optimum work-life balance. Many joined the workforce at a time when remote or hybrid working was becoming the norm, allowing them to save time on commuting and invest it into personal priorities instead.
The result is that a significant proportion of this generation now perceive hybrid working as more than simply a benefit, but a right.
“Leaders who insist on face-to-face working are likely to experience backlash from younger workers, who see hybrid working as part-and-parcel of their jobs," Sterzl continues.
“At a time when retaining top talent is so crucial, organisations must enable efficient hybrid working by facilitating learning and communication regardless of an employee’s physical location.’’
An inclusive culture
Deloitte’s aforementioned research found that Gen Z employees feel empowered to drive change within their organisation, especially in the DE&I arena.
It’s a trend that suggests these younger employees will prioritise working for organisations that are open to becoming more inclusive, or already have progressive initiatives in place.
“Organisations should actively encourage employees to engage with DE&I initiatives, such as training on how to recognise and adjust any unconscious biases or learning opportunities that celebrate cultural diversity,’’ says Piaggi.
“Equally, implementing policies and opportunities that help employees from minority backgrounds to thrive is essential. It’s important that leaders encourage all employees to make their voices heard, and that younger employees have the opportunity to spearhead change within their organisations.”
Fair remuneration and benefits
When choosing a job, salary is a highly important factor for all generations, especially given the cost of living remains high. It means companies are under pressure to ensure their salary offerings keep up with inflation and prevent employees from seeking better pay elsewhere.
However, employers should not fall into the trap of prioritising salary over everything else, as some data suggests that Gen Z values salary less than every other generation.
“As a cohort, Gen Z are looking for a well-rounded employee experience, perhaps more so than the generations that came before them,” Piaggi adds.
“Organisations should therefore consider everything from learning and development to ESG criteria to create an environment where Gen Z can truly thrive.”
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