A third of generation Z measure success by manager recognition and colleague support, according to a new survey by the Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc.
The survey, which polled 3,400 members of gen Z (those aged 16 to 25) from 12 countries on their employment preferences, also found the newest generation to enter the workforce values traditional markers of success, such as salary (44 per cent) and career advancement (35 per cent).
Nearly a third (32 per cent) said they’d be motivated to work harder and spend more time at a company if they had a supportive manager. When asked what attributes they value in a manager, the top three answers were a boss who trusts them (47 per cent), supports them (40 per cent) and cares about them (35 per cent).
Despite gen Z’s digital fluency, 75 per cent of survey respondents said they’d prefer to receive a manager’s feedback in person, while 39 per cent said they want to communicate with their team or employer in person.
Respondents also expressed interest in more flexible working options. One in four (26 per cent) said they’d work harder and stay longer at an organization that supports flexible schedules. At 33 per cent, Canadian respondents valued flexibility the most.
Among the actions survey respondents said they wouldn’t tolerate from an employer, the top responses were being required to work when they don’t want to (35 per cent); not being able to use their vacation days when they want to (34 per cent) and working back-to-back shifts (30 per cent).
“Gen Z is bringing new expectations into the workplace,” said Joyce Maroney, executive director of the Workforce Institute, in a press release. “They have strong feelings about how and when they want to work, especially compared to generations past. With millennials moving into management roles, we’re entering an inflection point in the employee-manager relationship, and leaders will need to familiarize themselves with the priorities of this latest generation of workers in order to effectively manage and develop them.”
The survey also found 32 per cent of generation Z said they believe they’re the hardest working generation ever. As well, 36 per cent said their generation will have the most difficulty entering the working world, tied with the so-called silent generation, who entered the workforce just after the WII.
Despite the perceived barriers, more than half (56 per cent) of gen Z said they’re optimistic about their professional future. However, respondents who are currently employed were the least optimistic, with 50 per cent of those currently in an internship and 28 per cent of those working full time saying they’re only moderately optimistic about their professional future.
Respondents also described several emotional barriers they felt stood in their way to workplace success, including anxiety (34 per cent), lack of motivation or drive (20 per cent) and low self-esteem (17 per cent). Anxiety was more common in women (39 per cent) than men (29 per cent) and most prevalent in Canada, where 44 per cent of respondents said it was a concern.
“This digital generation, primarily relying on technology to communicate, suffers from anxiety. Thus, gen-Zers are looking for leaders who are trusting, supporting their needs, and express care for them as humans — not just employees,” said Dan Schawbel, the research director of Future Workplace, in the release. “Focusing on gen-Zers’ human needs will be the best way to address their workplace needs.”