At Work, Gen Z Sets High Expectations and Enforces Them Through Social Media
For years, Millennials were the punchline of generational workplace jokes – responsible for job hopping, the demise of cubicles, and nap pods. They have since grown up and are now hiring Gen Z employees. Gen Z is putting its own stamp on the workplace – seeking out shorter and more flexible workweeks, prioritizing mental health, and signing off emails with emojis.
The pandemic and the rise of TikTok changed much of what we thought Gen Z would be. In a post-pandemic world, how has Gen Z transformed work as we know it?
Here are 5 things you should know about Gen Z at work:
- They aren’t afraid to uphold high expectations. According to Deloitte’s “Welcome to Generation Z” report, Gen Z has distinct preferences when it comes to work – to be in an industry that they interact with regularly, to lean into individuality over team collaboration, to want good pay more than personal fulfillment, and to have different opportunities available within the safety of a stable work environment. They want to work at organizations that reflect their values. Only 19% of Gen Z would work for a company that does not share their values and two-thirds believe a company’s values are more important than its leader, found research by LEWIS.
- They want to be “multihyphenates” to diversify their skillsets. In addition to making many jobs much more flexible, the pandemic inspired Gen Z to rethink their careers and develop new skills outside of work. They want to be “multihyphenates” who combine multiple professions or skills into a unique identity. The future of work calls for diverging skill sets rather than siloed ones, and Gen Z workers are prepping to be “Renaissance figures” with a variety of talents, interests, and knowledge bases that keep them competitive in the workforce. A recent LinkedIn study found that 76% of Gen Z workers who planned to find a different job in the next 6 months wanted more opportunities to learn new skills and gain expertise.
- They communicate their workplace boundaries through social media. “I do not dream of labor” is Gen Z’s call to arms. Coined on Twitter in 2019, this phrase was popularized on TikTok. Gen Z sees work as an act of financial necessity, not a basis for identity. They do good work but limit it to their job description and set hours. On TikTok, Gen Z makes their boundaries clear and spreads their work philosophy, using their everyday lives as content to inspire others – positive and negative experiences alike. Despite being new to the workforce, they’re unafraid to call out their employers online when things go wrong. With heightened levels of fatigue, burnout, and general dissatisfaction with their jobs during the pandemic, young people air their workplace grievances on the internet, often to viral acclaim.
- Feelings of anti-capitalism and nihilism are changing their perspective of work. To a growing degree, Gen Z doesn’t feel served by capitalism. They increasingly turn to nihilism to navigate modern life, wondering what the point is of preparing for the future as climate change worsens and wealth inequality widens. Vocal in their distrust of institutions and employers, Gen Z is exploring money-making in novel ways that emphasize short-term gains over longer-term pains. Because the future looks so precarious, they see that everything, including their careers, might be fleeting – and they’re learning to be okay with that possibility.
- They view the tech industry as a saving grace – but it might not be. Gen Z grew up thinking of tech industry jobs as crowning achievements. Some young people, inspired by the TikTok trend #QuitTok, are leaving undesirable jobs to devote more time to learning skills like data analysis, coding, and project management that will help them transition to the tech field. Meanwhile, overvaluation in the stock market has left many tech companies in financial trouble, leading to hiring freezes and mass layoffs. With the possibility that tech is past its peak, it’s up for debate whether tech industry jobs will continue to be Gen Z’s gold standard or if they will set their sights elsewhere.
In the past, workers felt lucky to have a job. Gen Z flips that sentiment on its head and believes that companies are lucky to have them. After watching so many companies lay off workers during the pandemic, Gen Z workers don’t expect jobs to last long-term. They refuse to be treated poorly and will jump jobs until they find the right fit. They believe that a stressful environment is a problem for employers to solve, not for them to endure. They bring their authenticity to work with them. They are entrepreneurial, independent thinkers who especially love responsibilities that allow them to inject passion and creativity into a project.