This survey is the first in a series of reports from The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace that examines attitudes of Gen Z in workplaces across the UK, USA, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands and New Zealand, including how their education has prepared them for the working world, their perceptions about the gig economy, and their views on how to be an employer of choice for the next generation. Part one, “Meet Gen Z: Hopeful, Anxious, Hardworking, and Searching for Inspiration,” explores surprising contradictions of how 16- to 25-year-olds view themselves, their expectations of work, and how employers can best prepare to manage Gen Z employees.
Gen Z believes it is the hardest-working generation – and have it the hardest – yet demand schedule flexibility to deliver their best work.One-third (32 per cent) of Gen Z respondents say they are the hardest-working generation ever, with Millennials ranked as the second-hardest working.generation at 25 per cent. More than half (56 per cent) say the Silent Generation is the least hardworking generation of all time. Almost two-fifths (36 per cent) of Gen Zers believe they “had it the hardest” when entering the working world compared to all other generations before. it, tied with the Silent Generation (ages 75-94), which generally began entering the workforce during or just after World War II. While Gen Zers believe they are hardworking, one in four (26 per cent) admit they would work harder and stay longer at a company that supports flexible schedules, with flexibility desired most in Canada (33 per cent), the UK (31 per cent), and the US (31 per cent). Gen Z’s appeal for flexibility comes with a few actions they would never tolerate from their employer, including being forced to work when they don’t want to (35 per cent); inability to use annual leave days when they want to (34 per cent); and working back-to-back shifts (30 per cent). Mind the “Preparation Gap”: Gen Z outlines what school did – and did not – prepare them for, as these digital natives crave face-to-face interaction. Despite record-high enrolment, less than half of Gen Z credits their high school (39 per cent) or college (42 per cent) education for preparing them to enter the working world. One in four Gen Zers say they are least prepared to handle negotiating (26 per cent); networking (24 per cent); speaking confidently in front of crowds (24 per cent); and resolving work conflict (23 per cent). Conversely, Gen Z feels well-equipped to handle working in a team (57 per cent); hitting project deadlines (57 per cent); and working with customers (56 per cent). Gen Z also isn’t prepared to be managed by another person (21 per cent), although nearly one-third (32 per cent) say they would be motivated to work harder and stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager. The top three attributes they value in a manager are: “they trust me” (47 per cent), “they support me” (40 per cent), and “they care about me” (35 per cent). Despite being digital natives, three out of four Gen Zers (75 per cent) prefer to receive manager feedback in person, and 39 per cent prefer to communicate with their team or employer in person – with Gen Zers in Mexico valuing in-person communication the most (55 per cent).
How do they measure success? Gen Z is optimistic, yet anxious, about their careers.
Across the globe, more than half (56 per cent) of Gen Z is optimistic about their professional future, led by India where an incredible 44 per cent of 16- to 25-year-olds are “extremely optimistic,” followed closely by US Gen Zers at 31 per cent. However, Gen Zers who are employed today are the least optimistic: Half (50 per cent) of those who are currently serving in an internship and one-third (28 per cent) of those working full-time are only “moderately” optimistic about their professional future. The overall optimism of Gen Z is met with many emotional barriers this generation feels it must overcome to achieve workplace success, including anxiety (34 per cent), lack of motivation/drive (20 per cent), and low self-esteem (17 per cent). Anxiety, specifically, is a greater concern among female Gen Zers (39 per cent vs. 29 per cent for male) and most prevalent in Canada (44 per cent), the UK (40 per cent), and the US (40 per cent). About one-third of Gen Z measures their success based on how respected they are by their co-workers (34 per cent) and the recognition they receive from their manager (32 per cent). However, traditional benchmarks still matter, with salary (44per cent) and advancement (35per cent) reigning supreme.
Joyce Maroney, executive director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos, comments,
Gen Z is bringing new expectations to the workplace, driven by their digital upbringing as well as their self-identified emotional barriers to success. They have strong feelings about how and when they want to work, especially compared to generations past. With Millennials moving into management roles, we’re entering an inflection point in the employee-manager relationship – and leaders will need to familiarise themselves with the priorities of this latest generation of workers in order to effectively manage and develop them.
Dan Schawbel, best-selling author and research director, Future Workplace, comments,
Despite younger generations being called lazy by older generations, Gen Zers consider themselves the hardest-working. To inspire them to do their best work, companies must meet them at the starting line – give them training, flexibility, and mentorship. This digital generation, primarily relying on technology to communicate, suffers from anxiety. Thus, Gen Zers are looking for leaders who are trusting, support their needs, and express care for them as humans – not just employees. Focusing on Gen Zers’ human needs will be the best way to address their workplace needs.
*Global survey issued by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated