Gen Z are unique as workers, as they are in so many other ways. They’re truly digital natives, most hardly remembering the days without access to a smartphone or social media. As such, as they get older and start looking for jobs, they’re entering the work world with a completely new perspective. Their awareness of burnout and access to more information on employers (especially because of social media) means they have high expectations for what a job should be offering them. The ping pong tables and beer on tap companies tried to attract Millennials with just simply aren’t going to cut it with this gen (and, honestly, didn’t work the first time either).
YPulse surveys show that Gen Z are also rethinking what success looks like. Working is certainly important to them—in fact, they believe work experience is the number one thing they need to be successful, more so than a college degree. But, their lives and mental health are their first priority, and 52% of Gen Z say their career is not the focus of their life, it’s just a job. So they won’t be dreaming of the 9-5 their parents strived for, or to be a part of a big corporation, but they are going to be looking for roles that they find fulfilling.
Where they find those roles, and what exactly they expect from them when they get there, are questions YPulse receives often. In our recent Ask MaryLeigh Anything webinar, YPulse’s Chief Content Officer MaryLeigh Bliss answered some of the core questions brands and employers have about Gen Z’s working lives, and this is what they need to know:
What are the leadership and workplace values that Gen Z prefer?
YPulse’s What’s Next for Work trend looks at the new values that Gen Z is bringing to the workplace, and the top thing they’re concerned about is their mental health and avoiding burnout. They want their employers to care about it as much as they do, and encourage them to have a healthy work / life balance. And if they don’t, Gen Z is willing to walk away—evidenced by their role in the Great Resignation. YPulse data showed last year that nearly one quarter of Gen Z had recently left their job, and when asked why, their top answer was a lack of healthy work / life balance. They also said they left because they felt a lack of purpose at their previous job, showing that though they don’t intend for their job to be their whole life, they still want it to be meaningful.
Another way they’re ensuring they get the work / life balance they want is through what’s being called #QuietQuitting, or as they’re calling it: working their wage. More than 75% of Gen Z who are employed agree they feel like they deserve to make more money, so until they do, they’ll be doing only what’s required of them and nothing more. On TikTok, they show what this looks like: setting hard boundaries about not being available outside work hours, not putting in extra time without being paid extra, and not putting up with mistreatment or having their needs ignored. While it can sound to older gens like they’re not willing to work hard, really, they’re demanding their worth be recognized for it’s value. Quiet quitting could also very well turn into real quitting if not respected; the number one reason Gen Z says they plan to leave their job is because they can get paid more elsewhere, which they know thanks to the emerging trend of salary transparency among their peers.
Beyond their health, Gen Z also tells YPulse they’re done with five days in the office, and most prefer to have a hybrid work schedule. They feel more productive at home, and are more than comfortable with communicating virtually instead of in person. Still, they want to see their co-workers sometimes and get some IRL time in the office, so hybrid is the future they see for themselves. That is, of course, if they don’t leave to start their own business first—24% of Gen Z say the ideal size for a company is just themselves.
How do Gen Z job hunters network and seek job opportunities online?
According to YPulse’s employment and careers data, Gen Z is most likely to say that they look for jobs through friends and family. But after that, digital platforms and social media are top sources. LinkedIn is actually getting a bit left behind, ranking below Indeed, TikTok, and Instagram as places they’re looking for jobs. You might wonder how they could possibly find a job through TikTok, but the reality is several companies are now recruiting directly through social media with great success. Beauty Brand Lottie London has hired Gen Z to marketing positions by allowing them to apply through DM, sans cover-letter, making the process more their speed than what they perceive as tight-collar, corporate LinkedIn. Likewise, CeraVe and Pacsun have both filled roles thanks to their new employees’ TikTok presence.
This success on social media is due, in part, to Gen Z’s idea of LinkedIn and Millennial-geared workplace cultures as cringey. LinkedIn has become somewhat of a joke to Gen Z as “parodies have proliferated across TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, with posts saying, ‘LinkedIn influencers be like…’ going viral that show the most absurd forms of corporate hustle culture propaganda on the platform.”
Gen Z naturally shares their personalities through their profiles on other platforms, especially with their more lax use of TikTok (which YPulse explores in our upcoming trend report). So, while Millennials were warned of having unprofessional social media presence, especially on public accounts, Gen Z is taking advantage of it and job searching by their rules now. And we already know that if a job isn’t meeting their standards, they’re happy to find another that does.
How has Gen Z being brought up by technology impacted their face-to-face interpersonal skills?
Older generations might believe that it has impacted them quite a bit. Of course, for Gen Z, communicating virtually is their norm. They interact on digital platforms first. For many Gen Z, they are even more comfortable talking and meeting people on digital platforms and on social media than they might be in person. When it comes to work, 53% of Gen Z who have or are currently working from home say having meetings through video calls instead of in-person is a positive.
But brands or employers should understand that the digital interactions that they have are not less important or “real” than the in-person interactions that they have, including ones at work. The digital relationships they have are very real for this generation, and they’re just as valid to them as those in-person connections.
That said, the idea that Gen Z is unable to interact with peers and friends in person is just not true. They’re going to school and spending time with friends. In fact, when we look at our education research, high school students are more likely than college students to say that they want to go to school in person. They were deprived of a lot of time with their peers for years at very vulnerable ages, so they crave that in-person time as well—fueling their belief in a hybrid work environment.