2020 Rise of Gen-Z in Workplace: What Do They Even Want?

Despite a large majority of them still being kids and teens, the eldest members of Generation Z are already finishing school and entering the workforce.

In the United States alone, there are 65 million Gen-Zers and by 2020, they will comprise about 40% of the entire working and consumer population. Soon, they will surpass Millennials as the most numerous generation on earth.

Are they merely a continuation of the previous generation? No. Gen-Zers are very different. Pragmatic and realistic, yet optimistic and aspiring. Aiming to begin a new story of their own, they will bring a completely different perspective into the workforce.

Many things are going to change with their arrival on the scene. The way people search for a job. The way companies communicate. The workplace itself. Even the future job posts will probably look different from what they do today.

So, it’s about the time to start to understand them. Who is Gen-Z? What do they even want? And how will they change the future of workplace?


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Who is Generation Z?

Gen-Z, Zoomers, iGen or Plurals. All of these names stand for the same generation — Generation Z which came after Millennials.

They were born between 1996 and 2010 and don’t really remember communism or September 11 attacks. They have never known a world without the worldwide web, video chat or shopping online. Neither have they ever used a phone with a cord.

On the other hand, this generation has witnessed the rise of various tech innovations, launch of social media and grew up in a world where all information is easily accessible. Perhaps that’s why they tend to believe that anything is possible.

Is there anything we really know about Gen-Z?:

  • The eldest Gen-Zers are 24 and entering the workforce.
  • They’re career focused, ready to work hard and pursue new opportunities.
  • They consider a four-year college education super important and are quickly becoming the most educated generation in history.
  • Most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history.
  • First digitally native generation.

In fact, more than one-third of Gen-Z uses technology as much as possible, compared to 27 percent of Millennials, according to Vision Critical's survey. No wonder they’re also called “iGen”.

And their symbiotic relationship with technology will have a huge impact on the way they work.

Gen Z Workplace

Is it all about money and salary?

While Millennials put a great emphasis on having a clear career path and vacations days, 65% of Gen-Z says that salary is the most important to them, according to Vision Critical's study.

Money and security is what ultimately makes them happy and motivated. More than a half of them is even willing to work nights and weekends for a better salary.

But other things matter to them too. Besides money, they also want to have both purpose and passion in their job. And they actually believe in it more than previous generations (74% vs. 69% across all working generations).

It’s also very important for them to work at a company that shares their values. They don’t only care about what the company does and what’s the quality of their product or services. They do care about the company's ethics and social impact.

Climate change, world hunger or sustainability; these are the things that matter to Gen-Zers a lot.

And companies will have to prove that they mean it. Whether it will be through the services they deliver, their employment practices, or through other activities.

For instance, Amazon, who recently threatened to fire workers speaking out on climate change, probably wouldn’t impress them too much.

Gen-Z’s must-haves

What do you think about employee perks and benefits that are popular nowadays? Think table soccer, fitness vouchers or a new laptop?

No, Gen-Z is more practical and puts a higher value on job stability over physical goodies. Just like their grandparents' generation. The top three essentials they look for in a job are health insurance, competitive salary and having a boss they respect.

Next three are opportunities for professional development, maternity or paternity leave, and flexibility to change roles within a company.

Work-life balance is also super important for them. Almost 40% of Gen-Z views it as a top priority when choosing an employer.

They also care about human rights and diversity. It’s a criteria they consider when deciding whether to join a company or not. And not only in the sense of race, but also gender and sexual orientation. In fact, Gen-Z is the most likely to have individuals that identify themselves as non-binary or third gender.

This means that companies will need to be more inclusive and diverse in order to attract young talent. They will need to represent the whole spectrum of people in their marketing. In the end, this should be a common practice anyway, right?

Gen Z Workplace

Different job hunt

If you're going to search for a job, where do you look first? Job search websites like Indeed, Monster or ZipRecruiter? No wonder. That's the most trusted source among Millennials.

But not for Gen-Z. This generation prefers to do it in the old-fashioned way. They rather go to friends and family first when looking for a job and only opt for job search sites as their fourth option.

Almost 60% of them will most likely ask their family and friends first or ask someone they know who already works at the company. Then, they would search company employment websites and only as their fourth option, they would visit job search websites.

And when they finally find a company they want to work for, where do they check out their future employer? Millennials use mainly Glassdoor or LinkedIn to learn more about the company’s culture, image and to read some reviews from its employees.

For Gen-Z, YouTube is the new Glassdoor. The Kinetics' study shows that 40% of Gen-Z say they would use YouTube to determine if they want to work for a company, following Instagram and Snapchat. In comparison, only 24% of them would use Glassdoor.

What does it mean for companies? They will need to focus less on job search sites and be more present at places where they can actually reach potential Gen-Z hires — on social media. Especially on the ones which aren’t much used for recruiting today such as YouTube and Instagram.

This will also probably lead to a complete redesign of the today’s job post.

The job post of the future

Gen-Z will not only change which channels companies use to communicate but it will also change the way companies communicate. And we aren’t talking just about using their vocabulary. Because well, you need to get ready to hear phrases such as “bruh”, “lit” or “savage” (hopefully not though).

We are talking also about the future of the job post. It might look very differently than it does today. It will need to be direct, visual, engaging, and mobile-friendly.

Why? Gen-Zers are used to Instagram and Snapchat where all posts disappear seconds after being viewed. They're used to swiping through stories and automatically ignore ads. Due to that, they have the attention span of a goldfish and the information filter of an eagle (because eagles have, like, really good eyes).

This means companies will need to find a way to catch their attention despite the information overload. So, the future job post may consist of emojis, acronyms, pictures or symbols. But mainly videos, as Gen-Z prefers YouTube among all other sources.

Also, the whole application process should be as simple and quick as possible. More than 60% of Gen-Z say the ideal job application is one that takes less than 15 minutes to complete. Companies will need to adjust to that and go into more in-depth details later during the follow-up.

future workplace

How will the workplace change?

The rumor that this generation no longer values face-to-face conversations isn’t true. They’re not faceless minions who will only communicate online. On the contrary, Gen-Zers crave human element. In fact, they want more frequent workplace communication than even Millennials desire.

Do you remember the last time you got feedback on your work? Was it last month? Or even longer? For Gen-Z, this isn’t enough. In fact, 60% of them want more frequent feedback from their managers during the week. Out of those, 40% want the interaction with their boss to be daily or several times each day.

Of course, this doesn’t mean arranging two-hours meetings each week with each employee. Even a two-minute online conversation about how they’re doing in their job is completely fine for them. The key is they need it to occur regularly.

This also goes hand in hand with the fact they want to be treated as individuals. According to Monster's survey, they expect to be treated by their employer more personally and are seeking more than just filling cookie-cutter roles.

However, their symbiotic relationship with technology will have a huge impact on internal communication which will go far beyond intranet. Employee apps are going to be the driving force in workplace communications tools, following social media and web-collaboration tools.

Technology will also have an impact on the way we work. The future workplace will be wearables, robotics, and virtual reality. This has a potential to change workplace practices in a wide variety of industries. For instance, in healthcare they already begun to train doctors and nurses with the help of VR.

On the other hand, technology and especially social media will impose a real challenge for employers. Why? They can be extremely distracting and it takes a while to focus again after an interruption. So, companies will need to find a balance between the efficiency and distraction of modern technologies.

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  • Nikoleta Ziskova, Content Manager and Resume Expert at Kickresume
  • Nikoleta Kuhejda
    Content Manager & Resume Expert
    A journalist by trade, a writer by fate. Nikoleta went from writing for media outlets to exploring the world of content creation with Kickresume and helping people get closer to the job of their dreams. Her insights and career guides have been published by The Female Lead, College Recruiter, and ISIC, among others. Nikoleta holds a Master's degree in Journalism from the Comenius University in Bratislava. When she’s not writing or (enthusiastically) pestering people with questions, you can find her traveling or sipping on a cup of coffee.

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