What ‘Gen Z’ Employees Really Want

With unemployment at historic lows, it’s never been harder to hire top talent. In response, recruiters and HR professionals alike have all reached for “game changing” perks to seal the deal, like unlimited vacation, free beer, or even nap pods. We’ve been told that employees value different things based on their age—baby boomers want stability and millennials need flexibility, or so the stereotypes go.

But what of the workforce’s newest entrants, “Generation Z?” These young professionals, born between the mid 1990s and early 2000s, account for a quarter of the U.S. population. Rather than buy into the stereotypes, we decided to go straight to the source.

After surveying recent graduates and young professionals on what they really valued from a job, it turns out that the kids are all right. Here’s the kicker—it’s not office foosball that they’re asking for. It’s things like meaningful work, flexibility, and development opportunities that influence their decision to join a company.

Tyler Lonergan

HR Analyst

B.S., Business Administration

Top Priority: Collaborative Environment

"More than ever, employers are transforming their cultures to appeal to young people by offering workplace amenities like alcohol on tap, casual dress codes, and fun spaces. While these amenities are wonderful and certainly attract applicants, I think employers should focus their time on creating cultures that promote the basics of kindergarten: collaboration, teamwork, and friendliness. I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to collaborate across business functions with people of all seniority levels, work with my team on comprehensive projects, and be part of a company that is as friendly to the broader community as employees are to one another."

Ingrid Skrede

Personal Assistant

B.A., International Relations

Top Priority: Opportunity to Grow

“I’m looking for a dynamic workspace with opportunities to grow and to ask questions. People should know that our generation is hardworking and curious.”

Kiera Byrnes

Real Estate Intern

B.A., Marketing

Top Priority: Flexibility

“I want opportunities where there’s a fun work environment, where I could grow and learn, receive good benefits, and eventually have flexibility when I’m looking to start a family. I also wouldn’t mind free bagels in the morning.”

Andrew Sahawneh

Global Sourcing Intern

B.A., Business Administration

Top Priority: Work-Life Balance

“I want a fun and exciting workplace that never makes me second guess whether I want to be there or not. I need to be able to think like an entrepreneur and constantly stay busy. I would also like a work-life balance so I can see my family and friends, as well as work on a side hustle. Catered chipotle once a week would be nice too.”

Alyssa Casamento

Associate Representative

B.A., Digital Media and Advertising

Top Priority: Company Culture

“I feel like company culture is what is most important to me. It could literally be my dream job, but if the people don’t get along, the work is going to reflect that. I also have a big thing with transparency. I don’t want to work somewhere where I feel like I’m always guessing. Open, clear communication throughout the workplace is important.”

Alex Sutliff

Electrical Apprentice

Top Priority: Pride in Work

"For me personally, a job needs to have four things: good benefits, good pay, good people, and good work. That last one might be the most important. You have to be able to take pride in your work. We spend our whole lives working—if you can't be proud of what you're doing or what you create, what do you really have?"

Rachel Minassian

U.S. Senate Intern

B.A., Political Science

Top Priority: Challenging Work

“I look for a gender-equal meritocracy with exciting and challenging work relating to social justice and politics. Our generation is generally very well-informed and disappointed in prior generations for what they’ve done to our economy and government.”

Julia McCarthy

Digital Intern

B.A., Political Science

Top Priority: Flexibility

"I want a workplace that is considerate of its employees' needs, whether that means a work from home policy or a stocked kitchen with snacks. A workplace that supports its employees in all facets of the work-life balance. My generation is hardworking, curious, forward-thinking, and expects a workplace to reflect that."

Regardless of the generation, recruiters would be hard pressed to find one benefit or perk that stands heads and shoulders above the rest. According to the above professionals, it’s things like meaningful work, company culture, and work-life balance that can make or break an employee’s decision to sign on or leave.

In collaboration with #HRWINs, we sought to find out what the most impactful perks were among baby boomers, millennials, and Generation Z. In our report, Where Purpose Meets Performance, Can HR Tech Solve Culture?, you’ll discover which perks employees identified as game changers. Download the report by clicking below.

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