What 5,000 Gen Z’ers Tell Us About the Future of Work
This is What the Largest Generation Expects from Employers as they Enter the Workplace
Generation Z — those born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s — is just now entering the workforce, and given that they are the largest generation ever, they are poised to have an affect on the future of the workplace that no previous generation has. In fact, this past summer marked the first time that the majority of those graduating and entering the workforce were from Generation Z rather than being considered a millennial.
And this December, thousands more Generation Z’ers will graduate and enter the workforce. As with the millennial generation, many assumptions and unsubstantiated tags are being placed on this generation well before they’ve had a chance to show their true colors in the workplace.
With more than 75,000 students on the Door of Clubs platform — from over 300 colleges and universities across the country — we decided to go straight to the source.
Using our platform, we polled 5,000 Gen Z’ers (we believe one of the largest Gen Z surveys to date) who will soon be entering the workforce from over 100 universities across the country, including Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Boston College, Notre Dame, Northeastern, University of Georgia, San Jose State University, Seattle University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Arizona State University-Tempe, Morehouse College, University of Illinois-Chicago, and many others.
Here are some of the top takeaways from our study:
Mentorship Almost as Important as Health Care
As Gen Z enters the workforce benefits are certainly top of mind when considering potential job opportunities. Going into our survey we expected that health care would be a top benefit consideration, especially given the amount of discussion around the topic recently.
Forward thinking companies like Apple and Google have seen just how impactful health care benefits can be in terms of attracting top candidates and retaining employees. These companies see sponsored healthcare benefits as a starting point as they look to offer other perks like health-tracking bracelets, fertility treatments and on-site medical clinics.
What we didn’t see coming is the importance that Gen Z places in mentorship. Going back just a few years, mentorship would hardly be considered a benefit, let alone be ranked as a top consideration. However, it seems like Gen Z shares millennials’ interest in mentors. 37% of respondents in our survey noted that health care benefits were the most important benefit, closely followed by a mentorship program (33%).
If they are following in the footsteps of the millennials before them, mentorship programs may not only help get Gen Z in the door, but they could also help employers with the ever-looming retention problem. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that millennials who intend to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor (68%), than not (32%).
Which benefit is most important to you?
Salary Not as Important to Gen Z When it Comes to Loyalty
Somewhat surprisingly, Gen Z’s much maligned millennial predecessors are piling on the assumption train, saying they fear that their younger cohort will have a negative effect on company culture. Despite being plagued by stereotypes about their own work ethic, millennial managers are showing similar attitudes toward Gen Z.
Generally, workers who negatively affect a company’s culture are more focused on the individual benefits a job can provide them — salary, benefits, a launch pad to another job — than they are the greater good of the team. For this type of person, any sense of loyalty comes from these individual advantages.
However, when we asked our Generation Z respondents what would make them stay at a job for more than 3 years, the top response was an empowering work culture (29%), with a high salary and raises falling significantly behind at (15%). In contrast, a 2016 report found that Millennials (29%) report that a higher salary is the biggest contributor to their loyalty.
Not only is this interesting because it contradicts the assumptions that Gen Z is driven by selfish motivations, but as they’re entering a workplace facing salary stagnation — some with over a quarter million dollars in student loan debt — you’d assume salary to be the biggest factor. But you know what they say about assumptions…
Of course, salary is an important consideration for all. And with this unprecedented amount of debt, it’s not surprising that previous Door of Clubs research found that 87% of college graduates expected to be making more than $30,000 annually, and 56% expected to take in more than $50,000 with their first post-college job.
What would make you stay at a job for more than 3 years?
Understanding The Causes That Are Important to Them
Gen Z is not only the largest generation ever, they are perhaps the most causal driven as well. From the environment to equality, Generation Z is passionate about making the world a better place.
Recently, we sat down with Todd Corley, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at OhioHealth, and Chairman of the National Society of High School Scholars Foundation. Todd is an expert on diversity and inclusion, as well as hiring Generation Z and he believes this causal driven approach carries over to the workplace.
“[Generation Z] wants places that are purpose-driven, workplaces that really promote how they’re giving back, and are connected with bigger life missions.”
Because of this, employers need to understand the causes that are important to this cohort.
Our survey found that the number one cause that Gen Z wants to see their employers support is equality (36%), with women being more likely than men to choose that as their top cause. As the most racially diverse generation in America that is more likely than the millennial generation to say they have friends of a different sexual orientation, equality is a no brainer for this group. Our findings are also inline with studies that found 72% of Gen Z believe racial equality to be the most important issue today.
Generation Z is also very concerned about the environment. They’ve grown up in the era of genetically modified foods and melting icebergs and they want to be the generation that “turns this thing around”. In order to attract this diverse, tech savvy demographic, employers need to show that they are also committed to these issues. Some, like the Woolmark company have wisely already begun.
Rounding out the top 5 causes that they’d like to see employers support the most are health (19%), students (15%) and poverty (10%).
Given Gen Z’s action driven approach and innate ability to galvanize people around a cause, it’s important for organizations to understand that supporting a cause requires far more than simply claiming support on your company website.
What causes would you like to see employers support?
Gen Z is More Practical Than Given Credit For
Similar to the millennial generation, many falsely believe that Gen Z is a “me-centric” group with a large sense of entitlement and lofty expectations. However, the reality is that Gen Z is rooted in practicality.
An example of this can be seen in the way they think about money. Growing up during the Great Recession of 2007–2009 allowed Gen Z to see the importance of fiscal responsibility first hand. A 2016 Lincoln Financial Group study found that 89% of Gen Z respondents said they were particularly optimistic about their financial future — compared with 83% of millennials and Gen Xers and 78% of baby boomers. This outlook might might be in part due to the fact that they are saving faster than older generations. In fact, at least 64% of Gen Zers in the study said they had their own savings account, as opposed to 51% of older savers.
Our findings mirror this sense of practicality when it comes to the workplace. When asked which benefit is the most important to them, respondents were far less likely to choose time off (13%) and remote work (10%) as the benefit that they hold dearest.
And when it comes to relocating for an opportunity, Gen Z also shows a considerable level of flexibility. 56% reported that they are open to relocating for either a full time or internship position. The fact that a fourth of respondents said they’d relocate for an internship really illustrates the point that Gen Z is willing to work for the right opportunity — another contrary point to the assumption that they believe things should be handed to them.
Which career opportunity are you willing to relocate for?
Gen Z is poised to be a major catalyst of innovation in the workplace. Aside from being a talented, diverse and technologically savvy group, they are also a cohort that is steadfast in their values and beliefs. Rather than starting off on the wrong foot with this rising talent by applying false stereotypes, employers can benefit far more by listening directly to Gen Z and shaping their organizations to reflect their needs and expectations. If they can do this they’ll be able to harness all that this influential generations has to offer for many years to come.