Today’s average work environment looks a whole lot different than it did ten years ago. Actually, considering the entirety of the last two or so years, the average work environment has evidently shifted drastically. Certainly, an entire pandemic has shifted the once routine workplace dynamics alongside various social movements; though it’s worth noting another significant factor in this momentous work environment shift: there’s a new generation in town.
As the once completely remote workplace eases into becoming more and more in-person and experiences rounds of what works best for its environment specifically, one finds that Gen Z-ers are entering the workplace at a higher rate than before. It may not be perfect, but hey, it’s our first time here.
As an individual born into the Gen-Z generation (Gen-Z includes people born between the years 1997 and 2012), I can attest to the workplace environment being somewhat intimidating. I can also attest to having higher expectations for my employer, such as their mindfulness of social issues, access to mental health resources, and attention to the workers’ experience.
While I’m here, allow me to give you a rundown of what boxes need to be checked in order for myself and fellow Gen-Zers to consider a potential workplace.
More than one third of the world’s population falls under the Generation Z title, with more than a quarter of the U.S. population consisting of us. We’re also the most diverse generation in the nation’s history. Considering our irrefutable and ever-growing presence, it’s important to understand what the priorities for a desirable workplace are.
Here are three boxes companies must be checking:
Missions, Values, and Social & Environmental Impact
A company and its missions and values are a major part of what makes a workplace desirable for many of us Gen-Zers. If a company stands for what is right and it aligns with the values of its employees, there is a sense of pride that flourishes. For example, I am proud and motivated to work for a startup such as Reseat because I am aware of the missions and values that surround the company itself, providing extended life cycles of furniture that might otherwise end up in a landfill.
In a 2022 Deloitte survey, about three quarters of all answering Gen-Zers expressed a preference for a hybrid work environment, with 23,220 respondents in total. Amidst our ever-evolving uncertainty in the world, climate change is an extreme concern among Gen Z and millennials, and in the same Deloitte survey, it’s found that only 15% of Gen-Zers have faith in large companies and their actions towards combating climate change.
Access to Mental Health Resources
Gen-Z has evidently been incredibly open when it comes to mental health issues and destigmatizing very much common and real struggles of mental well-being. This is an essential part in crafting an environment where people feel safe and validated in their feelings. It helps us to be able to communicate our needs and understand ourselves and others better, to be aware of others’ needs and take care of each other with compassion and empathy. This is especially important in today’s ever-changing and uncertain state of the world.
That’s why it’s important that our employers understand the need for mental health resources. It’s not easy to fill another cup when your own has run dry. In a Deloitte report, 46% of 23,000 Gen-Zers and Millennials said they felt stressed or anxious.
Personal well-being is an element of Gen-Zers lives that need not be overlooked, as it is essential in fueling all other elements throughout life. Maintaining a work-life balance goes hand-in-hand with having access to mental health resources.
Ability to Maintain a Work-Life Balance
A work-life balance is essential in performing well in a workplace, and Gen-Z holds it as a standard for their top-pick workplaces. A report by Firstup, a communications app specifically for the workforce, stated that Gen-Z actively looks for work benefits such as paid time off, mental health days, and/or activities that establish a sensation of fellowship with peers.
As Gen-Z makes in with the new and out with the old, it’s important for employers to understand what will be expected of them. A company’s missions, values, social and environmental impacts establish a sense of pride in the work we do. An appropriate work-life balance fuels the desire to work, and allows space for mental health to be prioritized.
I, myself, am excited to see the shifts become routine elements of a standard workplace.