Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Gen Z employees are looking for cultured companies

October 12, 2022

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The Great Resignation is a term used to describe the large number of people who have quit their jobs since spring 2021. This, combined with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, influenced the way Generation Z was welcomed into the workplace.

In July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote that the rate at which people are quitting their jobs is higher than they have ever seen. The job-leaving rate hit a record high of 2.5% in March 2021, the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey found.

In 2019, Pew Research defined “Gen Z” as the post-millennial generation, anyone born after 1997. The oldest in this group are currently 25. Recently, there has been buzz about what Gen Z wants out of their employer, their company and their jobs.

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Gen Z watched their parents struggle through the 2008 recession and housing crisis and entered the workforce at a time of economic uncertainty. As more Gen Z’ers flood the workplace, it appears they aren’t going to settle.

The trends are showing younger people still want a sense of community, something they missed out on starting careers virtually. But, they also highly value flexibility, meaning they want hybrid and work-from-home opportunities.

GoBankingRates conducted a survey of a thousand American workers. More than half of Gen Z respondents wanted or needed virtual work opportunities, they found.

In order to flesh out the numbers with some qualitative information, I put out a public survey on LinkedIn asking for people to provide me with their job title, which company they work for and what values or qualities they want their company or employer to have.

My 17 respondents were aged 21 to 24. I broke up the responses into three categories: pay and benefits, virtual work opportunities and overall company culture.

My results found that younger people are placing a very high value on the culture of the company where they work. Responses most always included working for a company that appreciates their employees.

Work-from-home, virtual, and flexible work environments were also prioritized. Respondents also valued paid time off, fair and competitive pay, and health and travel benefits. Culture won out, though, with the most responses by far.

Young workers want a company that offers opportunities to collaborate and work on a team. They value mentorship, community, diversity, and inclusivity.

Amanda Paule, a reporter who is on the job hunt, said she wants a company that takes a “holistic approach [and] judgment of work ethic that doesn’t over-focus on the daily grind.”

Other respondents agreed. They don’t want a stressful environment, they want their job to be enjoyable. They want a company that values a work-life balance.

Gen Z has been categorized as demanding and picky when it comes to work. The near-2,000 comments on the Washington Post’s recent Gen Z article went back and forth: some called Gen Z lazy, demanding and addicted to their phones, others praised Gen Z for prioritizing a work-life balance. Did the pandemic place more attention to a work-life balance and prioritization of mental health?

While my mini-experiment didn’t reach all demographics, we know Gen Z is going to work somewhere that treats them well, but there’s not much known about which companies those are. Are more companies going to begin offering incentives and changing their culture to accommodate for the next generation of workers?

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