The pandemic has pushed leaders worldwide to rethink the employee experience. Issues like well-being, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have taken centre stage – areas that Gen Z employees have been seeking out from employers for years. Back in 2018, Gallup asked what employees wanted most out of work and Gen-Zers cited:

  1. An organisation that cares about employee well-being
  2. Ethical leadership
  3. A diverse and inclusive workplace

Fast forward to 2021, have those expectations of HR changed? With data predicting that Gen Z will make up more than a quarter (27%) of the workforce by 2025, we set to find out what this group of employees wanted out of their careers.

A recent study found that almost all Gen-Zers were ‘anxious’ or ‘very anxious’ about their chances at landing a job. A whopping 95% believed that the pandemic will affect their job prospects, according to the DHL Group study. Their fears aren’t unfounded because recent data from the OECD showed that Gen Z candidates were twice as likely to be unemployed during the pandemic compared with workers from other age groups like Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and millennials.

Resilient and resourceful

Firstly, there’s data to debunk the assumption that Gen Z is the ‘strawberry generation’ or are made up of ‘snowflakes’. The term ‘strawberry generation’ was coined in East Asia and used to describe how the youth “bruised easily” like the fruit, as they’d quite easily quit work if it got too hard to deal with. Older folk typically stereotyped the serial job hoppers as spoilt, selfish or arrogant who couldn’t withstand pressure or work as hard as past generations of workers. The Western equivalent of the term, dubbed ‘snowflake’, has been used to label individuals as entitled, easily offended, overly emotional and self-obsessed with their perceived uniqueness.

The pandemic, however, proved otherwise, with a study co-published by Sea and the World Economic Forum showcasing Gen Z’s resilience and resourcefulness. Research showed that three in four youths demonstrated their adaptability during the crisis. Some built up their ‘pandemic preparedness’ (48%) and some picked up new skills (41%), while others created new sources of income (31%). Young employees were more likely to develop ‘pandemic resistance’, while students were more likely to adopt new skills. Budding entrepreneurs on the other hand worked on developing new business models to expand their sources of income.

The constant onslaught of digital and societal disruption is moulding millennials’ and Gen Zs’ views around work and purpose, according to a recent Deloitte study.

Called the “generation disrupted”, the study found that they are as ambitious as older generations, but their desire to make a difference is evident in their concerns about their personal and professional lives.

More than half want to earn high salaries and be wealthy. But their priorities have evolved, or at least delayed.

Having children, buying homes and other traditional signals of adulthood “success markers” do not top their list of priorities. Instead, they’d rather travel and see the world (57%) and help their communities (46%).

Their strong desire to make a difference, especially with things like climate change and the environment, has a great influence on who they choose as employers.

Additionally, in terms of diversity and inclusion, there is a strong correlation between millennials who plan to stay in their current jobs and those who said their companies deliver best on indicators such as diversity and inclusion.

Majority of millennials responded that they give a “great deal” or “fair amount” of importance to gender and ethnicity when considering whether to work for an organisation.

Source: LifeWorks