Gen Z: A New Generation at Work

By George P. Linke, Jr., Psy. D. and Shlomo Z. Satt

There is a new generation joining the workforce: Generation Z. To clarify that term, Generation Z refers to people born in the late 1990’s through the early to mid-2010’s. Interestingly, Generation Z has specific needs and motivations in the workplace, different than other generations. For example, Generation Zers place an incredibly high value on supervisor feedback, with over 65% of them wanting consistent feedback in the workforce, according to a detailed study by The Center for Generational Kinetics. This is just one of several characteristics about Generation Z important for employers.

According to Forbes.com, Thirty-eight percent of Gen-Z views work-life balance as a top priority when choosing an employer.” Translating this into the workforce means that Gen-Zers will prioritize jobs with high flexibility and the ability to maintain an active personal life. Jobs with regular overtime hours will not be as attractive. To attract the Gen-Z demographic, the workplace culture must respect those who desire a healthy work-life balance. Practically, this could mean hiring supervisors who understand and are able to accommodate Gen-Zers scheduling needs in the workplace. 

Another important characteristic of Generation Z is their advanced grasp of technology. Generation Z is sometimes referred to as the “iGeneration,” which is a nod to their upbringing during the rise of consumer electronics. This generation is the first population group to grow up with smartphones being the standard communication device. They are highly skilled in tech, and grew up with technology being a central part of life. With that being said, Gen-Zers desire a workplace that matches their everyday lives. As Harver.com alluded to, Gen-Zers want to FaceTime, text and have instant communication, at work as they do in their personal lives, and thus require technology that supports these preferences. Older technology and out-of-date software systems can be a serious deterrent for potential Gen-Z employees.

Another key factor when understanding Generation Z is the time period in which they grew up. Because Generation Z grew up during an economic recession, many Gen-Zers observed the valued characteristic of hard work and productivity that was necessary to make ends meet. Tim Sackett, President of Information Technology and Engineering at HRU Technical, shared in a recent interview that Gen-Zers “had to go to work earlier in many cases to help make ends meet, or at the very least to cover their own costs as teens.” The outcomes of hard work and productivity can impact an entire organization, therefore being an attractive characteristic of many Gen-Z employees.

One last note about Generation Z is their focus on managing student loans. College tuition has only risen over the past years, and Gen-Zers grew up in the throes of highly expensive education. The desire to reduce and pay off those loans is a very high priority. Companies like Starbucks realize this, and they offer various options for their employees pursuing education, including free tuition for an undergraduate degree. Maintaining competitive salaries or even having in-house education programs will certainly ensure that your positions are attractive for the new generation at work.

Do you have any Gen Z employees at your place of work? How has your experience been with them? Are you a Gen Zer yourself? Do you think this is an accurate reflection? Continue the conversation here.

George Linke is the Founder and President of Linke Resources. He is an executive & professional search consultant specializing in healthcare and human services. He has a demonstrated track record of placing well qualified professionals that advance the clinical and programmatic needs critical to an organization’s mission and financial health. He has extensive experience serving individuals with behavioral health needs, intellectual disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities. To learn more about how Linke Resources can make the hiring process efficient, successful and stress-free, call 610-873-4813.