Engaging Your Gen Z Workforce

Gen Z in the workplace

Just when you’d sorted out Millennials in the workplace, along comes Generation Z! Consensus places Gen Z’s population at about 90 million, which means that this generation is more populous than the Millennials, 25% larger than the Baby Boomers, and 35% bigger than Generation X. We’re looking a major generational influx of Gen Z workers, and it’s happening as we speak. As soon as 2025, it’s predicted that Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce – which means that if you haven’t gotten up to speed on who this generation is and what motivates them in the workplace, it’s time to catch up. Joining us on the program is Christine Selph. Christine is the Global Eminence and Engagement leader at Deloitte, and she’s also served as the Development Leader for the Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey. Here, she explains:

  • Why it's important to understand generational shifts in the workplace;
  • How the Gen Z workforce is different from other generations;
  • The factors and events that formed this generation; and
  • Why appealing to Gen Z's values can help our workplaces become more positive places to be!

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Deloitte’s Global Millennial & Gen Z Survey

  • The survey was started 10 years ago in response to Deloitte client needs regarding Millennials and Gen Z in the workplace.
    • These younger generations have vastly different needs and wants than previous generations and they are not scared to vocalize those needs and wants.
  • The survey looks to help clients (as well as Deloitte themselves) to understand what a Millennial and Gen Z workforce values, what drives them, and how to attract and retain them.


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Including A Gen Z Workforce In The Survey

  • Gen Z workers were added to the survey in 2018.
  • It is essential that employers understand how Gen Z employees will operate and how they may differ from Millennials in the workplace. 

Generational Shifts

  • Understanding generational shifts is a critical skill for organizations to have to truly understand their employees’ values, views, and priorities.
  • It is nearly impossible to attract and retain top talent or maintain a positive workplace culture without that understanding.
  • Understanding changes between generations will actually lead to workplace changes that positively affect all generations of the workforce.
    • A great example of this is all of the workplace changes that have been largely influenced by Millennials: workplace flexibility, greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with a desire for their respective organizations to play a role in combating world issues like climate change and social justice issues.
  • The rise of stakeholder capitalism has stemmed directly from Millenials and Gen Z in the workplace.
    • Stakeholder capitalism is when companies seek long-term value creation, taking into account the needs of all their stakeholders and society at large, not just their own profits.
  • Hybrid working environments and further inclusivity throughout the workplace are other generational workplace shifts that have been directly related to the Millenial and Gen Z workforce.

How Is The Gen Z Workforce Different?

  • While Gen Z workers share many values with Millennial workers, Gen Z is often even more adamant that those values are understood and met by their employer.
    • Climate change is one topic that has stuck as the most important to the Gen Z workforce.
    • Sustainability is a common topic among Gen Z in the workplace even when it comes to consumer decisions and can influence whether or not a Gen Z workforce prospect will even want to work for an organization or not. 
    • Gen Z workers also typically struggle with high stress environments.
      • The pandemic has been a bit of a high-stress anomaly for Gen Z workers  - but other factors, like unemployment and financial concerns, contribute to their stress.
      • Social media contributes to Gen Z’s stress, as they struggle with comparison syndrome, prompting them to develop a “love/hate” relationship with social media..
      • All that said, Gen Z workers are more open to conversations about mental health than any prior generation. 
    • The Gen Z workforce is not afraid to question authority and the “way things have always been.”
    • Gen Z workers look to employers to value them as their authentic self, and if employers are to do that, they must be open to having discussions about mental health with the Gen Z workforce. 

What Makes The Gen Z Workforce Who They Are?

  • They are the first generation who don’t remember a world without smartphones or social media platforms. 
    • While there may be some consequences to this that we do not fully understand yet, the prevalence of social media has also made Gen Z workers more willing to speak up for what they believe in, question authority, and to drive change on the issues that matter the most to them. 
  • With all of the Gen Z workers entering the workforce today, most of them are beginning their careers in a remote or hybrid setting, a very different setting compared to other generations, which could have repercussions moving forward. 

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Of The Gen Z Workforce

  • While Millennials were the generation to really kickstart the “gig economy,” the Gen Z workforce has really been the one to utilize it to pursue their passions.
  • Side jobs will obviously help financially, but most Gen Z workers who take advantage of a side job are doing it to pursue something that they are particularly interested in.
  • The pandemic brought about the idea that since we spend so much time working to begin with, why not turn hobbies and passions into a money-making venture as well?

What Does Gen Z Value?

  • The values of Gen Z in the workplace almost always directly align with their values outside of the workplace. 
    • Gen Z wants to work for an organization that has a purpose beyond profits.
    • They also look for adequate work-life balance, learning and development opportunities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. 
  • As consumers, the Gen Z workforce often puts their money where their values are.
    • As previously mentioned, Gen Z values environmental issues highly, so they will be reluctant to support organizations who do not also make an effort to reduce waste and protect the environment.
      • Even in this past year, a third of all Gen Z consumers ended or lessened their relationship with organizations based on their response to COVID-19, while a quarter of Gen Z consumers deepened their relationship with organizations.

The Diversity Of The Gen Z Workforce

  • The Gen Z workforce is the most diverse generation ever, which leads to more concern about social justice issues than in any prior generation. 
  • Based on last year’s survey, two-thirds of Gen Z workers believe their employer does a good job of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, but a third still believe that systemic racism is present within their workplace. 
  • Organizations should prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to attract and retain the top Gen Z (and other generations) talent. 

Key Takeaways From Deloitte’s 2021 Survey

  • Based on the results of the 2021 survey, there a few different key factors that business leaders will want to pay attention to:
    • Reevaluate the ways that organizations look at hiring and retention with a focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. 
    • Examine the role that organizations can play in supporting employees that are struggling with economic uncertainty and financial stress.
    • Ensure the organization is working toward environmental goals.
    • Prioritize mental health support and create a culture where it feels comfortable to express any internal struggles someone may be going through.
    • Acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had on working women.

Survey Trends Regarding Gen Z In The Workplace

  • The most common trend is the importance of workplace culture to the Gen Z workforce.
    • The better workers feel about their workplace culture, the less likely they will leave that job for a new one.
  • Another trend is for organizations to look toward the future.
    • Long-lasting issues like climate change and social justice efforts are incredibly important to Gen Z workers and Millennials, and they expect their organizations to be as passionate about these issues as they are. 
  • The Gen Z workforce is embodied by being a force for change.
    • They are not scared to speak up on issues they care about and want to be the drivers for positive change within their organizations and within society as a whole. 

Deloitte & The Future Of Their Survey

  • Moving into 2022, the survey will focus on Gen Z more than Millennials as they become the youngest generation in the workforce.
  • The survey will also focus on the lasting impact of the pandemic on the future of work and the types of decisions the Gen Z workforce makes when it comes to climate change and other environmental issues.
  • In next year’s survey, Deloitte will be exploring the rise of the “side gig,” which is growing in popularity, especially among the Gen Z workforce.  
  • The survey will come out in May of 2022.
  • Deloitte’s purpose is to make an impact that matters for their clients, their people,and the communities in which we live and work.
  • You can learn more about Deloitte at their website

Christine Selph Background


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