Early Career Hiring

Gen Z in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Apr 21, 2021 - Tiffany Monhollon

Among the five generations in the labor market today, Gen Z is the new kid on the block. Defined as the generation born after 1996, Gen Z includes today’s college students, summer interns, and entry-level employees. Gen Z’ers as a whole have spent the least amount of time in the workforce, which means that employers tend to have less experience recruiting and managing them compared to other generations. To demystify this generation, Brazen has compiled some of the overarching statistics that define Gen Z and trends about how its values influence career decisions. Whether you’re recruiting, onboarding, or managing Gen Z employees, bookmark this employer’s guide to Gen Z in the workforce.

Gen Z Values Diversity in the Workplace

To start, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history. More specifically, 48 percent of Gen Z’ers identify as people of color. These evolving demographics also have a direct impact on the way this generation evaluates prospective employers. For example, Gen Z’ers place a high priority on a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). They want to see diversity represented in recruitment marketing, in senior leadership, and across departments and levels within an organization. As for DEI-specific initiatives, some ideas to consider include DEI training during onboarding, company-wide affinity groups, or mentorship for historically underrepresented populations.

In addition, Gen Z is the most likely generation to promote inclusiveness of multiple gender identities. According to Pew Research, 35 percent of Gen Zers know someone who prefers to go by gender-neutral pronouns, more than any other generation. Employers can appeal to Gen Z at the recruitment stage by using gender-neutral language in job postings and offering candidates the opportunity to choose their preferred gender (including nonbinary options) within the application.

Gen Z Knows Technology Well & Wants to Work in the Tech Field

Gen Z has grown up with computers, smartphones, and the Internet, earning them the moniker “digital natives.” Among today’s teens, 95 percent have access to a smartphone while 45 percent describe their online activity as almost constant. As a result, Gen Z is adept in learning new technologies quickly and has a deep interest in the tech field. For example, a 2019 report from Glassdoor found that the majority of job applications from Gen Z candidates were for positions in the tech industry. The same report found that software engineer and software developer were the two most in-demand jobs for Gen Z. Similarly, a Deloitte survey noted that 51 percent of Gen Z respondents rated tech as a top industry in which to work.

Gen Z has More Education, but Less Work Experience than Previous Generations at the Same Age

Higher education is a key differentiator for Gen Z. According to Pew Research, Gen Z’ers are more likely to have a college degree and to have a college-educated parent, compared to previous generations at the same age. However, likely due to their increased time spent on education, Gen Z is also less likely to have had jobs as teens and young adults compared to millennials and Gen X. Onboarding will be especially important for Gen Z employees to introduce them to the processes and expectations of your company.

Gen Z Cares about the Social Impact of Employers

Gen Z has high expectations for the brands they support to take a stand on social and environmental issues. The same expectation extends to their employers. Research from Deloitte has found that Gen Z evaluates prospective employers not only for their compensation, benefits, and products, but also for their ethics and social impact. That means emphasizing your company’s mission and commitment to social impact is more important than ever when it comes to recruiting interns and entry-level employees. For example, if your company offers volunteer days or takes part in philanthropic activities, incorporate that into your recruitment marketing.

Gen Z Prioritizes Face-to-Face Communication & Frequent Feedback in the Workforce

When it comes to managing Gen Z employees, personalized feedback and communication reign supreme. Despite their digital prowess, 3 out of 4 Gen Z’ers prefer face-to-face communication when getting manager feedback. While Slack messages and emails are still important in managing and recruiting Gen Z employees, incorporating videoconferencing to replicate face-to-face interaction will be essential in making those connections that last.

In addition, a GenHQ study found that 60 percent of Gen Z’ers want multiple check-ins with their manager during the week, and 40 percent among those want to interact with their boss either daily or several times each day. By scheduling frequent one-on-ones with Gen Z employees, you can help them reach their full potential and contribute the most to your company.

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