By: Hannah Denne
Generation Z – colloquially referred to as “Gen Z” – is known by a few names: iGen, the Net Gen. In current public discussion, though, Gen Z seems to by their work ethic; or supposed lack thereof. If this is the case, there is cause for concern – according to data collected by the research center at Finances Online, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2023, members of this generation make up 30% of the US workforce. The post-Millennial generation, born between 1996 and 2010, is a hot topic in the realms of staffing and labor. But is Gen Z really so lazy, contrarian, or insubordinate? Or is this generation just clear on what they want out of their careers – and intent on making sure they get it?
Insider sat down with Chelsea Williams, CEO of Reimagine Talent Co., a workforce-development company specializing in “individualized career coaching and a career [jumpstarting]” for the next generation. According to Williams, one of the main differences between Gen Z and previous generations is their approach to compensation.
“I’m not prepared to make a blanket statement about whether Gen Z is asking for ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’ during the job-search process,” Williams writes. “What I can say is that this new group of professionals is more comfortable asking about compensation than its predecessors.”
EHS Today reported in 2019 that 54% of Gen Zers say that salary is the most important factor in job selection – correlating with data from the Center for Generational Kinetics which indicates 66% of members of this generation worry significantly about paying off student loans.
Due to this generation’s inherent proximity to emerging technologies, young people today have a leg up when it comes to navigating job postings and employment opportunities online.
“The ease and confidence with which this generation seeks and sorts through information online means that they enter the job search with more data on their side. They know how to access salary details from almost any industry or company. With a little research, they can reasonably estimate the value that their particular skill set will bring to a role,” Williams describes.
This ease of access to a wide range of information allows for more leverage power in terms of negotiating salaries, benefits, and expectations for work-life balance. According to Williams, “Thanks to Gen Z, that notion of ‘getting your foot in the door’ with an impressive employer and a low paycheck is falling to the wayside.”
Gen Z also values diversity. The Pew Research Center reports that Gen Z is more racially diverse than previous generations, with 22% of Gen Z having at least one immigrant parent and 6% having been born outside of the United States themselves. Data from BuiltIn indicates that 77% of Gen Zers are most likely to apply for a job at companies that claim to value and protect diversity. FinancesOnline reports: “Gen Zers respect and prefer brands and companies that support humanitarian and social causes such as ending hunger (50%), stopping human trafficking (50%), ending poverty and homelessness (51%), and racial equality.” Companies which represent themselves based on these values are more likely to catch the eye of Gen Z applicants; companies with the integrity to act on these values are the companies that will keep Gen Z employees.
Gen Z is enthusiastic about building a better future for themselves, their peers, and future generations. This is a passionate, fiery generation looking to subvert the status quo and make real change – and they’re not going anywhere.
So, how can the staffing industry adapt strategies toward harnessing the energy of this juggernaut generation?
The key here seems to be transparency, integrity, and a desire to adapt company values and advertising strategies to the times. Gen Z workers know what to ask about in interviews and won’t be fooled by clever tricks in an online job posting. Companies see Gen Z workers leave their companies in droves when they enter the workplace to find work conditions and compensation are not as advertised. Not out of laziness – but out of the confidence that they can find a better opportunity elsewhere. By advocating for this generation’s desires for fair pay and resources, and honestly representing this growth-based company culture in job listings, staffing agencies can get ahead of the game in terms of attracting and securing the best thinkers and doers of tomorrow.
Make sure yours is the better company young people flock to, and you’ll have a dedicated, spirited workforce on your hands.