What do gen Z want from their workplace?
By Sarah Syson, Head of Design at Claremont
Generation Z, sometimes called ‘the zoomers’, are the youngest generation in our workforces and many of them are embarking on their careers as they begin their first serious jobs after university.
Born from 1997 onwards, the oldest of this generation group is just 26 and they typically have a very different view on what they want from their workplace compared to their older colleagues.
A recent study by Claremont, one of the UK’s leading office interior design and fit-out businesses, has highlighted the generational differences between colleagues and discovered how a workplace needs to make employees feel in order to attract and retain the freshest talent.
Meeting the needs of Generation Z in the workplace
Also known as the ‘snowflake generation’ it’s perhaps not surprising that many businesses feel daunted by the prospect of trying to meet the needs, attitudes and values of Generation Z – especially as they have been coined flighty, entitled and demanding.
However contrary to the populist media narrative, the younger generation isn’t those things, nor are they all about coffee, collaboration or the very best technology.
Findings from Claremont’s study of more than 1000 UK employees across four generations (Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers) show there are six truths about Generation Z that all employers need to know:
1. Generation Z is more likely to go into the office and work alone
Younger generations are actually the most likely to be found in the office, and whilst workplaces offer hybrid or remote solutions some of their youngest employees might prefer to work from an office full time.
Some reasons for this could be to escape from busy flat shares – where working from a bedroom or sharing Wi-Fi can present issues – or because they still live at home with their parents, who may also be trying to work remotely.
Whilst Generation Z will collaborate, research found that many in this group are happy working solo and focusing quietly to meet their deadlines and responsibilities.
2. Inclusivity is a major deciding factor in workplaces for Generation Z
Generation Z is perhaps the most inclusive as they want the workplace to meet everyone’s explicit needs. In particular this generation is the most bothered about dedicated spaces for menopause (even though they’re the furthest from experiencing it) and multi faith groups.
A workplace that doesn’t offer inclusivity across its employees could risk losing Generation Z employees or failing to attract them in the first place.
Inclusion is a factor that all generations of workers bear in mind, and it isn’t limited to faith or health but also extends to flexible working and parental leave too.
3. Eco-conscious Generation Z want their workplaces to be aware and improve their environmental impact
Generation Z is the most environmentally aware of the generations with 1 in 5 (20%) saying that offices could be more inviting if they improved environmental practices such as better recycling and offering EV charging.
However, Generation Z is also sceptical of ‘greenwashing’ and ‘tokenism’ so any commitments from their employers need to be genuine and transparent.
4. Generation Z take pride in their workplace and are advocates for where they work
The youngest workers in the current UK workforce are in fact the most proud of where they work, with research showing more than 4 out of 5 workers (83%) have a sense of pride in their office – a fact that could be because this generation actively considers the workplace and working behaviours when deciding where to work.
This pride isn’t a given though, and workplaces still need to offer the right features to attract and satiate these young workers.
The top three things that would make Generation Z most proud of the workplace are brilliant technology, a fun, creative and well-designed workplace and a strong social scene so they can bond and form friendships with their colleagues.
5. A sense of routine matters to Generation Z
Generation Z is the most bothered about the office providing a sense of routine, compared with the other generations they work alongside – perhaps a nod to the fact many have just come out of the structure of formal education.
This alongside their preference for working in the office instead of at home or in a hybrid model, means they like a structured workday and may also favour ‘set’ start and end times to their working day.
6. Having their input heard and valued can win favour with Generation Z
Generation Z is the most bothered about having input into the design of the workplace, and they expect and want to be heard by their employers.
Ensuring this generation feels valued and listened to is a key way that employers can look after its youngest workers, especially when it comes to how and where they work.
Getting to grips with Generation Z
For workplaces that are keen to attract Generation Z, it’s clear that they may need to review and refresh their employee benefits, organisational culture, and working practices.
Sarah Syson, Head of Design at Claremont advised: “Meeting the needs of every generation is important for a workplace, and for Generation Z that means understanding the feelings and experiences they expect both the act of work and the place of work to deliver.
“From meeting the need for inclusion with policies such as flexible working, ensuring a workplace is meeting its green and environmental commitments, and also creating a space that allows them to be productive, there is a lot to do to ensure the youngest generation of workers feels their emotional needs are being met as well as their career requirements.
“Some workplaces will, unfortunately, fail to attract, satisfy and retain the youngest generation of workers, and this could see them missing out on the energy and fresh thinking of a hardworking and digitally-native generation.”