How Gen Z is The Newest Catalyst for Change in the Workplace

By Katherine Gourley | February 24, 2022

As Generation Z (born 1997-2015) is now the largest population entering the workforce, the newly diplomaed digital-ites are bringing with them new standards, values, and ideas for the workplace and corporate social responsibility.

The workplace environment has seen an immense amount of change in the past two years, as a result of the pandemic. For the first time in US history, the standard 9-5 job can be done from the living room rather than the cubical. While there are many positives attributed to working from home, such as no commute, being able to spend more time with your family, and a relaxed wardrobe, many fundamental workplace structures have been lost. It is important to acknowledge that remote environments are all that Gen Z is accustomed to.

Many young professionals view commuting to an office as an exciting prospect. A recent study by Generation Lab shows that 40% of Gen Z prefers working fully in person, with the next 37% preferring a hybrid work environment for a better work-life environment. However, Gen Z is seeking and growing accustomed to much more lavish workplace conditions than previous generations; company amenities have also become a large part of new career recruiting. Grey cubicles in windowless rooms and bland breakrooms are being replaced with open-concept workspaces, catered lunches, and gym memberships. Gen Z wants to view going into work as an enjoyable experience, not just punching a time card and collecting a paycheck.

Closing the gap between work and personal life also emphasizes the generation's quest for social equity and equality in all aspects of life. Researching and evaluating company gender and racial demographics has become increasingly important, along with examining how the company contributes to the community. For example, companies such as Apple and Microsoft have donated more than 800 million dollars individually in the past 10 years, increasing the donation per year amount by 15% over the past 3 years. Apple is also accredited for being one of the first fortune 500 companies to sponsor company-wide volunteer and service projects. Companies who are viewed as highly focused on their image in society rather than solely focused on profits are viewed as more desirable employers to members of Gen Z (Harvard Business Review).

Gen Z is one of the most highly motivated generations in the workforce right now and that is only going to continue to grow stronger and spread to younger generations as well (Forbes). With every generation that has entered the workforce came new changes to the national working environments. The most common changes include labor laws, a woman's role in the workplace, long-term career paths, and employer contributions to 401k's and health insurance, which have continued to benefit our society greatly throughout the years.

All in all, Gen Z is advocating in new ways what every generation has also fought for happiness, fulfillment, appreciation, and security. However, as the generation with the highest influence in purchasing power, they hold the keys to companies, both large and small, which will adapt to the change and which will not. It will be interesting to observe over the next 10 years to see how working environments will change and companies will operate.

Edited by Joseph Barbieri