Gen Z In The Workplace: Connections, Diversity, and Ethics

Employers — the workforce is about to change dramatically with the entrance of roughly 61 million individuals you probably have heard of referred to as “Gen Z.” Just as you no doubt saw seismic shifts in the workplace with the arrival of the Millennial generation (and before them, Gen X) you should prepare yourself for the inevitable adjustments that should be made to allow for this new demographic to thrive at your company. The good news is, it is entirely possible for any organization to become a “Gen Z whisperer” with the right insights. 

There is a lot of data out there about Gen Z, but we wanted to provide you with data from Gen Z. We go straight to the source by asking questions of our Gen Z Tallo community directly. Data cited here is from July 2020, in a study taken of approximately 6,000 Gen Z-ers. So, without further ado here are three key insights you need to know this month about what it takes to make Gen Zers happy in the workplace:

1. In-person connection trumps virtual

Generation Z was raised on technology. It would be easy to assume that their preferred method of communication is digital, being as they are already so immersed in smartphone culture. However, our findings indicate the opposite. When asked to think about their future workplace communication preferences, 75% indicated they were opposed to solely remote business relationships. Even more telling, when asked how they would prefer to collaborate (in person, by video conference, online chat, email or phone/conference call) a staggering 85% chose in-person communication.

This study suggests that the preference for face-to-face communication may be because “These individuals… thrive on genuine relationships, especially with authority figures.” So there you have it, when hiring the next generation do not underestimate the importance of personal, face to face time. It may also be a good practice, when recruiting Gen Zers, to start mentioning your policy on in vs. out of office communications and expectations, as well as any opportunities you provide for mentorship or one on one relationship building.

2. Get ready to be held accountable for Diversity and Inclusion

While Diversity and Inclusion have been hot topics in the workplace for some time now, no generation has ever demanded it to the extent Gen Z will. Ninety-two percent of survey respondents noted it is important for them to work in a diverse and inclusive environment. Pew Research Social Trends provides some additional context behind this movement, showing that Gen Z represents the most racially and ethnically diverse generation. For example, 52% are non-Hispanic white – significantly smaller than the share of Millennials who were non-Hispanic white in 2002 (61%). Knowing that this topic is going to grow in importance over time, it’s time to be sure your company can deliver when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.

Diversity means a lot more than just race or ethnicity to Gen Z, however. The below chart reveals the breakdown of what diversity in the workplace truly looks like for them.


3. Ethics are non-negotiable 

The final key element we identified in our study was the importance of ethics organizationally. When asked “What is most important when thinking about your future work environment (where respondents had the ability to select up to 3 answers) the #1 response was “Having a fair and ethical boss.” Furthermore, 68% of Gen Zers surveyed said that it was important for their employers to support a cause they care about. 

Survey respondents indicated that the two causes they are most passionate about are Human Rights and Healthcare and Human Services. These causes being top-of-mind for the majority of survey respondents may be because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (Healthcare and Human Services) and recent protests against police brutality and racism (Human Rights).

Now is the time to work with recruiting and HR to identify causes that your new talent is passionate about so that you can, as a company, help make a true impact. It’s clear that this is a generation that prioritizes doing the right thing and moving the needle towards positive change. By presenting new candidates with information about your corporate social responsibility and getting more information on their personal priorities, you can help ensure alignment and retention at the onset of the hiring process. 

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