Empowering the Future Workforce: Embracing Gen Z Values in the Modern Workspace
Gen Zs are becoming a leading topic in the industry. We will be playing an instrumental role in the future of the workforce. Gen Z and Millennials comprise about 38% of the global workforce and are predicted to account for about 58% by 2023, with Gen Z making up 27% by 2025. Gen Zs are fearless and not afraid to leave a company if our needs are unmet. Statistics show that over ¼ of employees are likely to leave their job in the next year mainly due to unsatisfactory salary (54%), lack of work-life balance (42%), and a lack of passion (37%). Therefore, it is essential to know how to make your workplace attractive and welcoming for future leaders.
This summer, I have been interning at Hanover. I learnt many things in terms of business and potential career paths. Still, my biggest takeaway was discovering what I value in the workspace as a person and as a member of Gen Z.
The Covid 19 pandemic has immensely changed how many businesses run and people’s views on the topic. When searching for employment, it is evident that there are questions about where one wants to work, but now there are also questions about HOW one would like to work.
I found the hybrid work model most preferable, which makes me part of the majority of Gen Z, according to statistics. My experience of the hybrid model is that when managed properly, it is as though you get the best of both worlds. As a very ‘people’s person’, I valued the in-person contact, and I believe I would have struggled to gauge the realities of this job had I worked entirely remotely. That said, I enjoyed the flexibility of my work-from-home days, which meant I could spend more time on my work and less time commuting to work. In addition, it provided me with more flexibility regarding the location I chose to work at and flexibility in my general life schedule. I would argue that this working model positively contributed to my job satisfaction, and over half of the Gen Zs in a recent study in Ireland agree. Mental health and work-life balance are a long-term priority.
Gen Z currently stands at 2.6 billion people and is the largest age demographic. As well as being the largest age demographic, Pew Research findings suggest we are the most diverse generation in history (48% are considered to belong to a racial or ethnic minority). Gen Z is not only more diverse than previous generations, but we are also one that proudly embraces diversity. Therefore, it is no surprise that 83% of Gen Z candidates say that a company’s devotion to DEI is a crucial deciding factor for choosing which company to work at. As a generation, we have witnessed various social justice movements and developed a strong sense of ethical practices in a range of settings – so why should the workplace be exempt?
To a certain extent, your surroundings can communicate something about you to yourself and others. I know what I stand for, and I would love to work at a company with a similar culture and mentality. I do not see any compelling reason to work in an environment that does not value diversity, equality, and inclusion, as these are very dear to my heart. Furthermore, there is a moral and social responsibility to do so.
My internship taught me that there is always room for learning, whether we are directly affected or not. I completed DEI courses in my induction week and learned about unconscious bias and different types of diversity. Hanover also runs a monthly DEI Social Club that discusses themes on topic events; for example, there was a session discussing LGBTQ themes during Pride Month (June).
I applied for this internship through the 10000 Black Interns Foundation, an excellent and transformative initiative designed to promote equity and create opportunities for Black students to combat underrepresentation in the workforce. This engagement with such an initiative is something I respect, as Hanover is publicly showing their support by being proactive. As a young Black woman, it is vital to me to work somewhere that principally promotes diversity and equality. I am diverse. So, in a sense, a company that values DEI values me.
Personal Approach and Inclusion
I spent my induction week at Hanover training for the job, and in between the courses, I got to have a 1:1 session with colleagues to get to know everyone on a more personal level. This exercise contributed to creating a welcoming environment for me as a newcomer. It also gave me perspective; I found it particularly interesting to hear the range of experiences and career paths everyone had come from. It is great to have a relationship with colleagues in an office setting, but it is also great to spend free time together when we sometimes get small bites after work. Despite being an intern, I felt empowered to speak to anyone irrespective of their position, which gave a flat structure feel and further built my confidence. My input was equally appreciated and encouraged as any other associate on the team.
Giving Back to the Community
Considering how socially aware and exposed to information we are, Gen Zs like an opportunity to contribute to great causes and do their part regarding social responsibility. We are interconnected, and technology has empowered us to have a louder voice. Unlimited access to the news and social media involves us in the discourse about social issues, and we feel empowered to act where we can. Statistics show that 70% of Gen Zers are involved in a social or political cause in some capacity.
During my internship, I had the privilege of participating in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, the world’s largest running event, to raise money for charities. This year, Hanover raised money for Refuge, an organisation that supports thousands of women and children experiencing abuse. It warmed my heart to see everyone get involved in a cause they hold dear. I was particularly honoured to be involved in this as I conducted an EPQ independent research project on the Psychology of “Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships” to educate myself further, as this is a very important cause to me.
Our world is technologically advancing and developing every day, with Gen Z being the most tech-savvy generation to date. In an article published by the Guardian, Gene Marks wrote, “They understand more about the economy, technology and world than I ever did at that age”. Digital Literacy skills appear to come naturally to us, perhaps due to our exposure to such an advanced world from an early age, especially considering we are the first generation born into a world of the Internet and smartphones, having never experienced a world without. Although I am a part of this generation, I am still amazed to see my young cousins capable of using devices with such expertise.
Technology can be defined in terms of tools and devices, but it is evident that Gen Z sees technology as an essential part of daily life. I read an interesting article about How Gen Z is redefining the world through technology and interestingly came across a statistic that suggested that despite our close relationship with the digital world, 84% of Gen Z say that they prefer face-to-face communication which is more than any other demographic HP surveyed. However, many count video calling as a form of face-to-face communication which shows how technology is redefining the world.
Gen Z verbalises everything
Gen Z is radically different to what you have seen before. There is no denying - we value money. But in the same vein, we value other things arguably more, like flexibility, diversity, inclusion, technology, and a company that gives back to the community – to name a few.
There are many assumptions about our generation, so it is beneficial, especially for a company’s future success, to get ahead and educate oneself about the future of the workspace – Gen Z. However, if you feel like you’re falling behind, do not worry. To quote an article from McKinsey and Co:
“Gen Z verbalises everything; they tell you what they want and don’t want.”