Educate January 2017

Here’s What Generation Z Expects From The Workplace

Written By: Lisa Marinelli

Generation Z is now starting to enter the workforce, and it is unlike any past generation to walk through the doors of your business. As a member of Gen Z myself, I know firsthand that our workplace expectations stem from the world in which we’ve grown up. Robyn Showers, former Content Marketing Manager at Brazen Technologies, summed up our worldview as “the sobering reality of a post 9/11, ISISfighting, Great Recession America… shaped by technology, social media, political unrest, and (our) own changing demographics.”

From this direction, we bring an armload of fresh perspective and knowledge to share with your entire company. It’s worth noting that Generation Z will make up 40 percent of the U.S. population by 2020. By understanding Gen Z’s workplace expectations, companies will be thinking forward.

We expect to be heard.
The members of Generation Z expect, or at least hope, to be understood for the values and standards we hold for the future of a thriving workplace, such as inclusion (not just diversity), support for individualism and transparency in the workspace. Thanks to our unique grade school experience with Common Core math, science, and technology, as well as our expanded worldviews driven by social media, we possess new skills and fresh thought processes that challenge conventional thinking. Gen Z employees are hyper-aware of older generations in the workplace that are possibly hesitant about some new ideas. However, we hope to be respected and welcomed with your understanding to learn and integrate helpful new ideas into your company.

We expect workplace inclusion.
Generation Z is the most diverse generation to date. In fact, any lack of diversity in a group is what stands out to us. We are most encouraged by companies that seem interested in their employees’ backgrounds, cultures and values. Inclusion is different from diversity in that a workplace might be diverse, but the office culture should also allow everyone to feel equally welcomed and valued. Inclusion is a major factor influencing how comfortable we feel in a workplace. Gen Z doesn’t want to step on any toes of older generations, but we also don’t want to feel like we’re stepping on eggshells when we voice our humanitarian opinions.

We expect honest feedback from management.
It’s widely thought that Gen Z members are too sensitive to receive manager feedback. In fact, studies show that Gen Z’s appreciate transparency and honesty from our leaders. Just because we are socially aware does not make us overly sensitive to criticisms of our work ethic. We are familiar with failure and rejection — we grew up through the Great Recession and saw families lose their homes and businesses. We’re prepared for setbacks, and we know we can overcome them in time.

We expect collaboration.
Generation Z consists of team players and innovators. Envisioning her future workplace, Béla Cunningham, a junior at the University of Florida and a member of frank, a community of communications thought leaders founded by UF, said, “Considering the current social climate surrounding my desired field (graphic design), I expect the environment of my first job to be based on collaboration, experimentation and a bottom-up approach to achieving company goals. This would entail a less stratified system of workers in favor of a dynamic system that evolves organically on a project-to-project basis.”

We expect to work hard. 
More members of Generation Z are seriously considering entrepreneurship or a work-study program over traditional college. We’re tailoring our own majors at many schools to factor in more hands-on and in-field training. We aren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and get valuable experience as soon as possible. We are a highly motivated group that has seen our parents and millennial cousins work hard to get out of debt. We want to start our careers on the right foot and not get in too much debt to begin with. Whether a new hire received a college education or arrived by another route, Gen Z members want to grow professionally with your help and be acknowledged for the new talents we bring to the table. With more insight into Generation Z’s workplace expectations, companies have the opportunity to evolve their policies to appeal to the attitudes of Generation Z, a talented and particularly driven group. A progressive business future depends on mutual understanding between management and coworkers to promote learning and harmony in the workplace.


LISA MARINELLI is a third-year advertising major at the University of Florida and is currently interning with the Parisleaf content marketing team. Drawn to unexplored turf, she absorbs her surroundings like a sponge. She finds the perfect background music for every moment of her day.

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