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What Gen Z Looks For In The Workplace

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Are you a 'Zoomer'/Gen Z frustrated that your boss or colleagues don’t understand you? Do you wish they'd try to view things as you do?
Or are you perhaps somewhat older and experienced but can't identify what Gen Z wants or needs? What are they thinking all the time? Are they just lazy and don’t want to work?
I’m here to provide some insight and shed some light into the mind of a Gen Z. Stick around and find out!

This piece was contributed by Dylan Wee during his summer internship at 33 Talent.

What is going on?

“Gen Z’s are so lazy and entitled!”, “No one wants to work anymore!” are just some of the exaggerated statements you may have heard from employers that aren’t able to fill positions when hit with the harsh economy that quickly worsened as a result of the pandemic.

Have you ever thought that you aren’t being compensated fairly for your work? I have witnessed some disdain for fast-food workers being paid above minimum wage. “Why are they being paid so high now?” they exclaim.

If “unskilled” workers are being paid more than you, are they being overpaid? Or are you being underpaid? Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at things from a fresh perspective.

The numbers

Inflation isn’t slowing down anytime soon, with Singapore’s core inflation rising to 5.1% and overall inflation rising to 7.5% in August as compared to 4.8% and 7% in July respectively. 

I’m sure many of you have experienced firsthand the rising cost of living, from daily commodities to online services, transportation, and even housing. Many Gen Z’s are simply not able to envision a future where they can afford their own home and find it hard to be able to afford rent if prices continue to increase without any raise in wages. (No, the occasional cup of Starbucks is not the issue).

Prices of homes have increased by 3.5% in Q2 2022 while rental prices have increased by 6.7% according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) though we've all heard the recent horror stories of landlords demanding up to a 70% increase for lease renewals. HDB resale prices have also gone up by 27.6% since the start of the pandemic according to PropNex, a major real estate company located in Singapore.

Values and Ideals

Growing up through a recession and a pandemic perhaps revealed to Gen Z that job security is not all that it seems. Many were laid off as a result of the pandemic and that gave them some time to rethink their priorities.

Companies adapted since then and so did we, while most also realized that the “traditional” work environment may not be the optimal solution after all. The TODAY Youth Survey 2022 found that half of the respondents would not accept a job if it didn’t offer a remote work option, while two in three wanted a four-day work week even if it meant more hours each day. 

Many youths heavily value and are now prioritising a healthy work-life balance when searching for a job. The global environment has changed and so have expectations. Employers that aren’t willing to adapt will soon fall behind the competition in recruiting top talent. Time is constantly moving and so must we. Even if it may be difficult for those that have more traditional work values ingrained in their skulls, any small step is still a step in the right direction.

So what do Gen Z want?

You don’t have to just take it from me though, I asked a few of my friends who are about to graduate and enter the workforce what they look for in a job, for what's essentially the first step in the next segment of their life? Let’s find out!

Having fair and competitive wages is definitely the most important aspect when it comes to the list of needs when deciding on a job. But what about other aspects of a job?

K.H. stated that the company culture is a major consideration, with flexible hours, work location/travel time, and the ability to work from home being important as well. Time and work-life balance seem to be a common theme here for consideration alongside a healthy workplace culture and I agree with its importance. 

J.L. however, prioritises the office environment and benefits more, with flexible hours, location/travel time, and the ability to work from home coming right after. Along with the same common theme of time and work-life balance, they value having a conducive work environment and benefits which helps a company stand out from the rest.

And lastly, R.H. prioritises a mix of factors from the previous two, focusing on the company culture, benefits, office environment, and flexible hours. Valuing a healthy working environment first, while keeping a time and a healthy work-life balance just under it.

Does any of this come as a surprise to you? Or perhaps you are already well up-to-date with what our youth want and need. What can you do now to stand out as an employer or even as a co-worker to appeal to new or younger talent? 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Pay well - Money cannot be understated when it comes to how important it is for many when making a decision. Don’t beat around the bush and disclose the pay range to save everyone’s time.

  • Respect their time - People have a life outside of work (even you!). Provide reasonable deadlines, understand that travel time is an important consideration for some, and unnecessary overtime only builds stress.

  • Be authentic - Be honest, and help them understand the reason behind any action. No one likes being lied to or looked down upon and this helps to build trust and gives meaning to what they need to do. 

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of mental health - People work best when well rested and not overburdened. 

  • Respect each other - Respect their boundaries, don’t abuse authority, don’t discriminate, and they will reciprocate.

  • Give and take - Gen Z’s are not unreasonable! Life is full of tradeoffs and many understand that. Communication is key in understanding what is important to an individual, and what they are willing to sacrifice for it (sometimes nothing at all). Be reasonable, and understand that different individuals value different things differently.

What does this mean?

Perhaps due to differences in perspectives and upbringing, Gen Z’s are more resilient than their elders when it comes to not conforming to a toxic work environment. They are more willing to stand up for what they believe is right and do not take kindly to being exploited. The difficulties that they are facing may not have been what you have faced in the past. The economy has shifted, and many Gen Z’s just want to be able to afford to have a life outside of work instead of living paycheck to paycheck.

We must acknowledge that the landscape has changed, whether for better or for worse and no matter what industry you are in, everyone deserves to have a healthy working environment for all demographics of people.

This may just be some ramblings of some random Gen Z to you, or perhaps it has helped shed some light on the thought processes behind some of my peers' actions. Either way, I hope that you enjoyed reading this post and I have hope that as we continue to pursue our goals, the world will turn out a better place for everyone and for work!

Did you like this post? You can connect with Dylan Wee on LinkedIn.​