The new workforce wants purpose not ping pong tables

Gen Z are the leaders of tomorrow, but what do we really know about their expectations from employers?
7 November 2019

Let’s put down the paddles for a minute. Source: Shutterstock

Generation Z, technically known as the demographic cohort after the Millennials, are often labeled as a self-centered and entitled generation. 

These adjectives seem to hand closely with the stereotype, but a different perspective shows they are a generation of tech inventors and digital natives— besides digital being an ingrained part of their lives, they are also a generation rich with ideas and innovation. 

That should hearten companies in the midst of digital transformation and growth strategies but, at the same time, those organizations must ensure they are meeting new expectations.

Many organizations are finding it hard to attract, hire and retain Generation Z talents and are finding it hard to bridge the generation gap in business. A study by Gartner revealed 40 percent of Gen Zs regretted accepting their job offer in 2018, and nearly half (49 percent) of them do not envision themselves having long term careers in their current companies. 

Delving into that line of thought, Monika Dowal, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Mondo, urged hiring managers to reexamine the labels and perceived challenges attached to this generation of technology trendsetters by asking the ‘right’ questions. 

“Gen Z doesn’t know a world without social media and as such, they are very tech-savvy and constantly in the know. Hiring managers should keep this top of mind when interviewing Gen Z candidates and ask related questions that will showcase their strengths and alignment for the position.” 

Her experience in leading a team specialized in recruiting top talents, which have surpassed revenue growth projections in the first year, reflects an in-depth understanding of the industry and workforce’s needs. The unparalleled success derives from a people-centric management practice, which is gaining momentum in the tech and creative recruiting industry. 

‘Novel’ workplaces aren’t enough

Contrary to beliefs, Gen Zs aren’t particularly interested in add-on perks, but are a group of goal-driven and career-minded individuals; “A fun workplace culture is important to Gen Zs, but in today’s day and age, that’s standard, and so ping pong tables and free lunches aren’t enough of a draw to lock in Gen Z candidates,” said Dowal. 

While an enjoyable workplace is important, new workers value direct and development, she added; “Gen Zs come to work to make money and grow in their professional careers— not to have fun, though that is a byproduct.”

A report last year from HackerRank found similarly that while “break-out rooms that look like tree-houses”, indoor slides and generous salaries may be what employers think new developers want, they are more interested in flexible working, training and development pathways, and being put to task on ‘interesting problems’.

In order to attract and maintain a new-age workforce, employers and managers need to be transparent with the career advancement and pathways available within an organization. 

Purpose for Gen Zs goes beyond the stated job responsibilities in a role but rather the significance and impact of their work. This agile and determined group is eager to see the result of their efforts and by doing so, are able to identify themselves with the organization, which can cement their loyalty in the long run. 

“Companies that are transparent with employees and establish a clear collective purpose from the get-go will be the ones who retain Gen Z talent vs. those who do not,” Dowal stated. 

Companies that help Generation Zs find purpose and meaning in their jobs will be rewarded with immense innovation and drive. As Dowal explained: “Gen Z is the most innovative generation, and will be until the next one enters the workforce.

“Further, they are adaptable, which is a great strength to have in the workplace given the constant need to pivot and shift direction when anything unexpected comes up.”

In an age rife with innovation and disruption, retaining and training Generation Zs is an investment for the future, as Generation Zs are the future leaders and companies risk jeopardizing their long-term sustainability if they fail to accommodate this new generation of workers.