Gen Z work demands include flexible working and wellness benefits

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When Ginsey Stephenson moved to San Francisco for work in February, she finally met and mixed with her co-workers for the first time. It was something the 23-year-old had been waiting for ever since he entered the professional world out of college seven months earlier.

The PR company she works for follows a hybrid schedule of three days in the office a week, which means she no longer has to nervously message people on Slack she’s never met in person. nobody. More importantly, being in the office helped her transition from working her parents’ home in Virginia — much like she did in school — into life as a working adult.

“I actually love going to the office — it’s more organic,” Stephenson said. “But I don’t know how anyone got into the office every day. I don’t know if we were made to work in a pre-covid world.

For some workers, office assignments aren’t just strenuous. They are harmful.

Stephenson represents a generation entering the workforce at a time when companies and employees are redefining work and the workplace post-pandemic. Unlike previous generations, one of the biggest struggles for the new generation of professionals is interpersonal relationships and workplace relationships, after the pandemic left them isolated for a few pivotal years of development. For Gen Z — those born between 1997 and 2012, as defined by the Pew Research Center, and also known as Zoomers — money may not always be the top job priority. Instead, their list includes flexibility to work from the office and remotely, wellness and mental health initiatives, and meaningful work and culture. And many are willing to change jobs to find the best solution.

For employers, consider these preferences may become increasingly important. Gen Z workers are expected to more than triple to 87 million by 2030 in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, accounting for 30% of the total employment, according to a study by Oxford Economics.

“We see this young cohort of workers demanding that employers care about them as whole people,” said Linda Jingfang Cai, vice president of talent development at LinkedIn. “And the ability to understand their career path is worth more than a paycheck.”

What do you expect from your employer or workplace? Tell us about it.

Gen Z can be an enigma to some of their older counterparts. They are often labeled as “lazy” or “entitled”. But Allison Williams, a 2022 graduate of Pepperdine University, said people need to remember that the coronavirus pandemic hit right in the middle of some of the most influential years for Gen Z – when they were shaping who they are. and what they value as adults. The pandemic changed the way they made friendships, received their education, and got their first internships and jobs. It had a big impact on how they view the job and how it can and should be done, she said.

“My generation is going to embrace … flexibility and take a different approach rather than going straight to the corporate ladder,” Williams said.

Some companies are trying to meet the challenge of attracting Gen Z by expanding benefits and flexibility. Handshake, a San Francisco-based online service that connects students and employers, cites General Mills and Procter & Gamble as examples. General Mills has updated its benefits to include mental health offerings, which are now also available to summer interns. And Procter & Gamble now offers applicants a stress management app to help them through the process.

Tips for Attracting Gen Z Recruits

Employers looking to hire more young people have a lot to consider. Here are some tips from LinkedIn’s Jingfang Cai and Gallup’s Gen Z polls.

  • Flexibility is the key. Gen Z wants hybrid or remote options, says Jingfang Cai. Companies can therefore consider offering flexible options that allow workers to choose what makes sense to them.
  • Communicate and demonstrate values. Gen Z wants to know what their employers value, how it’s prioritized, and what investments are made accordingly, she says. Well-being is often a priority value for the generation, according to Gallup.
  • Review the wording of the job posting. Make sure entry-level jobs don’t require years of experience or you risk missing out on a whole generation of young talent, says Jingfang Cai.
  • Prioritize learning. Gen Z wants to grow and learn, she says, so make sure your openings also include opportunities for training, professional growth and mentorship.
  • Create diverse and inclusive workplaces. Gen Z considers it imperative to work in a job that promotes respect, fairness and inclusion, according to Gallup polls.
  • Ethical leadership is a must. Gen Z wants to know that its leaders are ethical, expect action to be taken to address moral blind spots, and want to know that their work has a positive impact on the world, according to Gallup polls.

Many Gen Z workers say they value opportunities that take into account their mental health and well-being. Sam Folz, a 22-year-old software engineer at Capital One, said his company offers unlimited mental health days, a benefit he considers “huge” given Zoom fatigue and other mental exhaustion that workers might feel.

Kenny Colon, 23, a graduate this year from the University of Central Florida, said he believes a company’s office politics ultimately demonstrates whether it supports employee well-being. After attending graduate school for the next two years, he said he might be drawn to the wellness benefits. For example, he said, EY, where he is currently interning, offers its workers reimbursement of up to $1,000 for wellness needs such as mattresses.

“This generation wants to be more open; they want to talk about mental health,” Colon said. “It’s a very big thing.”

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Leo De La Uso, an all-remote marketing and communications specialist for a Texas nonprofit who graduated this year from Texas A&M San Antonio, said his first priority in a job was knowing a company was truly interested in investing in its employees. He ideally prefers a hybrid work environment.

“The obligatory notion that you must be [at an office]I don’t think it’s something that fits well with me and my generation,” the 23-year-old said.

For Sam Purdy, a 2022 grad from the University of South Carolina who is currently looking for work, a job would ideally give him a sense of long-term stability and security, in addition to flexible work options. . He’s not interested in “being stuffed in a box” every day, but he also wants to know that in the midst of all these changes, his work won’t go away.

“It’s weird because we don’t have a lot of leverage,” he said. “But you’re going to see us prioritizing things other than work and putting off things like [having] to be in the office.

For Pittsburg State University graduate Weston Charles-Gallo, remote options represent the opportunity to move around and experience different cultures at an early age. He still hopes to land his dream job in communications.

“You hear about old people who…wait until they’re retired to travel,” he said. “My generation takes advantage of telecommuting to go to the airport and travel.”

But Folz, the Capital One engineer, said executives shouldn’t entirely overlook the importance of the office. He said the office played an important role in his settling in as he moved from Cincinnati to Arlington, Va. for work.

“You’re in a whole new town with maybe nobody you know,” he said. “Work is the best place to meet those first friends.”

And for some jobs, hands-on experience is invaluable. Isabella Hickey, who works as a planning technician for the city of Juno Beach in Florida, said she prioritized remote jobs when searching but eventually landed a full-time in-person gig. .

“Being [at the office] in person helped me grow and learn a lot more than being at home trying to learn,” she said.

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Building working relationships requires a concerted effort for some people.

“A bustling office is something I would love to experience one day,” said Selena Tran, 22, a 2021 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, who works entirely remotely for a Bay Area fintech company. . Tran voluntarily meets his co-workers at the office every week or two for lunch. “You don’t get the same interactions in remote work.”

Tran prefers to work a few days from home, but she also wants to work for a company that cares about its employees. So she checks social media and Glassdoor reviews to see engagement levels and get a better sense of the culture. She wants people’s well-being to be prioritized as well as team diversity and inclusivity.

The assumption that Gen Z workers are just a bunch of licensed TikTok addicts who don’t want to work is unfair, Stephenson said, the public relations professional. Instead, she said, it’s a group of young people who just “got an interesting hand of cards” and want something better than what was offered to previous generations.

“It’s not that we don’t work hard,” she said. “We just see the workforce without the lens of people who had been in it before covid.”

Norma A. Roth