What Generation Z want from their employee experience

The latest generation to enter the workforce invests heavily in positive work environments, argues Carolyn Nevitte

With the war for talent raging on and employees becoming increasingly selective, companies are starting to place more emphasis on the quality of their employee experience.

With Generation Z graduating from university and beginning their careers, it’s necessary to assess what they want and need from their employee experience. Including anyone born between 1997 and the early 2010s, studies have shown this generation heavily invests in positive working environments. But what does a positive working environment look like to Gen Z?

Managers need to engage with them face-to-face 

Gen Z might have grown up immersed in technology and social media, but don’t let the fact that they are digital natives fool you — they still crave face-to-face contact. In fact, this is something they need to work effectively. According to one survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF), 72 per cent of Gen Z prefer face-to-face conversation.  

If you’re looking to give this generation an exceptional employee experience, you need to begin by addressing your performance management system by allowing this generation to regularly meet with their managers, develop a transparent relationship and receive the feedback they crave.

They want a challenging and varied employee experience

The good news for employers is that Gen Z isn’t interested in slacking. A WEF study found 77 per cent of this generation expects to work harder than previous generations. To prevent this generation from getting bored, challenge them and provide them with the opportunity to learn different aspects of your company. Not only will this satisfy your employee’s thirst for knowledge, but it will also help your employees make more informed decisions in their day-to-day role.

They want a racially diverse workplace

If diversity and inclusion aren’t top priorities for your organisation, this is something you need to remedy. Gen Z is a generation that cares about racial equality, with the WEF finding 72 per cent saying it is the most critical issue today.

They want to feel empowered in the workplace

Gen Z is more self-sufficient and independent than many of their predecessors. When they encounter a problem, they want the autonomy to address it themselves and to take ownership of the project. When it comes to creating a positive employee experience for this generation, be cautious of micro-management. It would be a wiser move to take a step back and give them space to address work in their own way — as long as they hit their targets and achieve their SMART objectives.

Career growth is a necessity 

While baby boomers are more likely to cite family and religion as central to their identity, for Gen Z it is more about professional, academic and personal success. Your company can give this generation a meaningful employee experience by emphasising growth, learning and development. Managers should sit down with their employees and discuss their career aspirations and expectations while creating a practical outline of what skills they can develop at your company and what resources you have that could help.

Wellbeing is also of top importance

When choosing a place to work, health and wellness initiatives are huge deciding factors for this generation. A survey by Peldon Rose found three-quarters (76 per cent) of Gen Z said it is vital for their employer to promote their wellbeing. You don’t need to have an elaborate programme or a massive budget, but Gen Z wants to know your company appreciates the importance of wellbeing.

Allow your employees to take the afternoon off for a doctor’s appointment without them fearing it will reflect badly on them or their work ethic, and stop rewarding employees for simply being the first to arrive and the last to leave. Instead, shift focus to goals achieved, stop watching the hours and allow your employees to manage work and life their way.

They want stability and security

Millennials might be notorious job hoppers, but Gen Z is interested in ‘future-proof’ jobs that provide stability and predictability. This generation has grown up in a tumultuous time with regards to politics and economics, so they are naturally more risk averse and pragmatic. Show your employees that they are valued and that – as long as they perform well – they don’t have to fear losing their jobs.

Carolyn Nevitte is HR director at People Insight