Working With Gen Z: Knoll Research Reveals What Makes This Generation Tick

Working With Gen Z: Knoll Research Reveals What Makes This Generation Tick
New Knoll research explores what make Generation Z -- the newest generation entering the workplace -- tick.
  • New Knoll research explores what make Generation Z – the newest generation entering the workplace – tick. 
  • This generation is entrepreneurial and motivated by both money and making a difference – but they also want to work with organizations that align with their values. 
  • Understanding Generation Z’s sources of motivation is critical to attracting, supporting, engaging and retaining them in a multigenerational workplace. 

Generation Zers are focused, ambitious and highly entrepreneurial, and they seek to join organizations whose mission aligns with their values and passions, according to newly published Knoll research on the cohort born between 1995 and 2010. 

The study, ‘Welcoming Generation Z to the Workplace’ found that while the oldest Gen Zers have begun entering the workplace, their impact will be felt for decades as globally they were predicted to make up nearly a third of the population by 2019. 

Comprised of more than 72 million people in the U.S. and Canada, Generation Z brings a unique point of view based on the societal events and context that shaped their outlook personally and professionally, explained Kylie Roth, Knoll vice president research. 

Understanding Generation Z’s sources of motivation is critical to attracting, supporting, engaging and retaining them as employees and team members in a multigenerational workplace, she emphasized. 

“As digital natives, Gen Z has never known life without the internet or smartphones. Yet they also yearn for human connection, mentoring and authentic, credible leaders in their workplace,” she noted. 

When entering the workforce, Generation Z seeks not only a role that fits their interests and skills, but also an employer with values and beliefs similar to their own, added Carolyn Cirillo, Knoll workplace research manager. “While they want to make a positive impact, they also seek enjoyment, happiness and fulfillment in their work. They also have a strong desire to learn at work and look for advancement and growth opportunities.” 

Entrepreneurial and Financially Savvy 

Financial stability is also an important criteria for Generation Z. “While they might have been young at the time, many individuals in Gen Z saw how the 2008 recession impacted their family. They’ve also witnessed Millennials struggle being saddled with student debt. So, they are very financially savvy and seek security in their work life,” Cirillo noted. 

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    The paper was conceived as a companion to Embracing Gen Z, the 2020 Knoll study that used personal narratives and trend data to capture the aspirations, motivations and characteristics that drive this generation. Identified as the 5Gs: Gaming, Gigs, Gender, Giving and Green, each “G” speaks to the passions and preferences of Generation Z. 

    The latest paper discusses Gen Zers from the perspective of who they are, what they seek in a job as well as an employer, and what defines and drives them as both employees and teammates. Finally, it provides some real-world guidance on creating a workplace where they will grow and flourish. 

    Seeking Diversity and Inclusion at Work 

    As the most diverse cohort ever, Generation Z places great value on being accepting and inclusive and able to express their identity. They also desire a flexible work structure and more than 80% indicate an interest in participating in the gig economy. 

    Growing up in an environment where mental health was discussed with greater openness and without the stigma experienced in previous times, Gen Zers are focused on maintaining physical and mental well-being. 

    A Workplace Where Gen Z Can Thrive 

    The physical environment plays an integral role in supporting Gen Zers once they get to the workplace. Like all individuals, Generation Z employees thrive in an environment that supports the whole person: the personal, the communal, the mental and the physical, according to the research. 

    The paper presents some practical suggestions on creating a workplace where Generation Z can thrive, encompassing policy and programming, place-based strategies and best-practices from some of the world’s leading organizations. The seven strategies are: 

    1. Invite potential Generation Z employees to experience your workplace. 
    1. Create development opportunities and paths for advancement for employees. 
    1. Offer project-based work and intrapreneurial opportunities. 
    1. Provide opportunities to make an impact. 
    1. Celebrate diversity and commit to inclusion. 
    1. Promote and practice holistic well-being initiatives. 
    1. Embrace flexible work options. 

    The full report is available on the Knoll website. 

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