Ever wondered what really matters to the Gen Z workforce? Join us as we engage in an eye-opening conversation with six Gen Z professionals, including Danielle Farage, a top voice for Gen Z and a Top 10 Future of Work Influencer. Gain valuable insights into the priorities and values that drive this generation, from flexibility and development to a strong emphasis on workplace culture.
We're debunking myths and shedding light on the unique career paths many Gen Zers are taking. Hear firsthand experiences from our guests, Jordan, Chanel, Harika, Claire, and Chaithra, as they discuss the importance of learning, development, and flexibility in their careers. Discover the significance of authentic connections through Danielle's passion project, Friendtorship, and explore the desire for travel and personal growth as key components of Gen Z's vision for the future of work.
Don't miss your chance to better understand this passionate and ambitious generation!
AWA Host: Karen Plum
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Hello there. What Gen Z wants from work is a really popular topic at the moment. So many webinars, podcasts, workshops, pieces of research aiming to tell us what Gen Z wants. But rather than talk about them, I wanted to talk with them, so in this episode, you'll mostly hear from Gen Z. Let's hear what they have to say. Welcome to AWA's podcast, which is all about the changing world of work and trying to figure out what's right for each organisation, because we know that everyone is unique. We talk to people who have walked the walk, who've got the t-shirt and who've learned lessons that they're happy to share with us. I'm your host, Karen Plum, and this is The DNA of Work. In just a couple of years, Gen Z will be about a third of the global population (around 27 percent of the workforce). So organisations really ought to know what's important to them and how to ensure they get really great experiences which meet their needs. Nobody expects a job for life anymore, but Gen Z will vote with its feet and will move jobs quickly if they aren't meeting their goals. In this episode, I have six Gen Z guests, including Danielle Farage, an expert on Gen Z, as well as a Gen Z person herself. So let's hear what's important to them.Jordan:
I live a lifestyle in which I want to be able to choose my own location and have the freedom of location available to me. But in my previous position, as it was shift work, it was quite impossible because I had to show up at a certain time in the lab and I only had very little say as to when I could actually show up. And now I have more freedom around the clock. I have more freedom of location. I can choose which days I go to the office, which days I work remotely, and my supervisor is very flexible with this. So I think this also allows me to provide a higher quality of service to my employer, because I'm more mentally in a stable place and I'm more effective when I'm actually working.Chanel:
I think the culture was also really, really important to me, and whether that be in terms of social aspects and people being very sociable, or whether that just be in terms of their approach to learning and development and continued development and pushing employees and things like that, i just think having a really positive culture is so important, not only just for, you know, employing around wellbeing, but also just in terms of productivity. You're happy somewhere. you're going to work a bit harder, aren't you?Harika:
I was looking into something initially to get into some corporate, like a big corporate firm, but right now I am in a place where I'm trying to figure out my career path. So flexibility is one thing I looked into And I think even if I were to join like a big corporate, i would hope they could provide flexibility because, as Gen Z, we look into more of like the company respects our personal life as well, rather than only, you know, focusing on the corporate life, or like the working life.Claire:
I was looking for a company that had a lot of room for growth for me, had opportunities to learn. Especially at the time I was looking to get this job, i was also considering going to school, so learning was a big part of work for me and I wanted that to be a main focus, and so I knew that the tea shop had endless opportunities for learning. That was a big selling point for me.Chaithra:
So when I was like graduating, i heard people say that you know, working in a startup is a great idea. You get to learn a lot, you're able to explore a lot of different options, and all that. But down the lane I realized there are a few things that I personally require, like, for example, two days weekend. You know, because, like I was working even on a Sunday in my previous company, so it was not something I wanted, because, apart from my job, i had certain passions and hobbies that I wanted to do on the weekends And I couldn't do it. And I think, like our generation, like people are not scared of quitting and changing jobs very soon if they're not getting what they went into.Karen Plum:
There you heard from Jordan, Chanel, Harika, Claire and finally, Chaithra, and we'll hear more from them later. They mentioned flexibility, development and culture, and I wanted to find out if those were aspects that other Gen Z people are interested in. Top voice for Gen Z and Top 10 Future of Work Influencer, Danielle Farage joined me to share what the research says and what she believes is important.Danielle Farage:
There are a lot of studies. Not all studies say the same top three things, but I will highlight the things that I think right now, along with the studies out there, are the most important. So one we have a very values forward generation, and I'm sure people have heard of this sort of concept, but when you really look at the numbers, 87% of Gen Zers believe that employers should impact the world positively, and so, therefore, we're going to want to go work for companies that are impacting the world in a positive way, whether that's through philanthropic efforts, corporate social responsibility or through the business itself social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurship, social impact sustainability. The second one I want to highlight is learning and development. We really do prioritize learning. We had access to smartphones at a very young age, and so we're very acutely aware of technology changing at a rapid rate and also the implications of such. Now we have VR and AR and AI that are transforming the way that we work and the way that we live And, as this generation. When you look at the numbers of why people are actually leaving their jobs, according to McKinsey report, the top three reasons why, across the board, people leave, the number one reason is learning and development. I think it's around 40-something percent, but when you look at Gen Z and Millennials as a cohort, it's actually closer to 78% is what I believe. The second reason is leadership. One of the reasons that people leave is because of their actual bosses, and actually 50% of New Yorkers have encountered toxic workplaces, which is wild. And then the third reason why people leave is compensation, and that's across all age groups, but I wanted to highlight specifically Gen Z and Millennials And the top three reasons people stay. This is interesting is compensation, meaningful work and flexibility. And when it comes to Gen Z and these younger generations, there's actually new studies that have come out to show that Gen Z is the first people that want to actually come to the office and have a positive experience in person and learn from people around them. People are really interested in learning and developing, but it's not exactly the story that the media has wanted to tell And at the same time, it's not just any culture that will come in for. So the office actually has to become a place that isn't just offices and cubicles and heads down working, but actually over the past few years I've participated in this conversation around how can we create an office of the future. That's maybe even Nellie Hayat, one of my friend tors. She said to me I believe in a future of an office where we don't even bring our computers when we go in. That speaks volumes. It's an office that's built for collaboration and socialization and bonding between people and social connection. Because at the same time and this is another number three Gen Z is looking for positive cultures where we can learn and be together and build relationships and build several skills at once possibly, and create new roles for ourselves, and where there is a lot more possible than impossible going on. Actually, contrary to what a lot of people think, there is research to support that 61 percent of Gen Zers would stay at a job for 10 years or more if it was the right culture.Karen Plum:
There's a lot in the media and I think I've heard people say that Gen Z perhaps don't care about culture because they don't stay in workplaces very long. It's a chicken and egg thing, isn't it? If I'm met with a poor culture where I'm not supported, my ideas aren't listened to, it's a toxic work environment well, I'm going to look for somewhere better.Danielle Farage:
Exactly. When you add on the fact that Gen Z is dealing with a terrible mental health crisis, I mean one in five students, in the States at least, report being too depressed to leave their rooms on college campuses. When you think about that and then you think about well, then we're going into the world and we're supposed to be active contributors of society. It's no wonder that we're at a loss, for where do we take our problems and how do we cope if we're not finding that supportive environment at work?Karen Plum:
Yes, Clearly there's a lot going on for people in this generation, much as there is for people in other generations, and obviously world events, financial, environmental, pandemic all of those things will impact on people and the lives that they're living and the decisions that they're making. You've talked about the top three things. Do you think that any of these things environmental, social, pandemic is there any one thing that's had a major impact on the way Gen Z people see those priorities?Danielle Farage:
I think definitely Personally. I graduated during the pandemic, I was a pandemic grad and I started my career remotely. Now yesterday I was at a closed meeting with someone very prominent in New York City. One of the attendees mentioned the fact that a lot of people haven't actually been trained in how to manage people remotely. What ended up happening to me whether or not it was because I was remote, I think it probably didn't help, but I went through and suffered from a toxic workplace environment, truly toxic, And having that be my first experience of work outside of internships was, I mean, it's difficult to put into words. It was really hard, It was really challenging And there is a lot of trauma that comes with that. Obviously, Gen Z is not the first and the only generation to go through toxic workplaces.Karen Plum:
Being isolated and having a toxic experience where you've got nobody to turn to near you and say is it just me, or is this really not right?Danielle Farage:
And, plus, with the isolation piece, you're not even sure who to talk to. Yeah Right, because maybe you haven't even bonded with your class of new grads and people who are starting work with you. That experience was really hard, and it also led us to possibly not develop the types of skills that we needed to, and so now that we're adjusting and going back to the office, or we're not going to the office and we're immersing ourselves a little bit more fully in work, a lot of managers are reporting that Gen Zers don't have the proper skills to be at work, and a lot of Gen Zers are being laid off, and it makes me think I feel bad for these people, because it's not their fault, and yet we're being blamed or we're getting the runt of the litter, we're being overlooked in terms of what we're capable of. And so I think, because of that, one of the biggest things that we're looking for is a culture of caring, as a culture of you matter. I'm going to teach you, I'm going to look after you. You're going to be trusted to take on new projects. You're going to be trusted to work on multiple projects at once. You're going to be trusted to travel or to work remotely sometimes, when the only expectation is that you get your work done, and I'm going to trust you to do that. You're going to be trusted to do new and hard things on your own And you can ask for help, but I'm not going to do it for you, and so I think that's one of the biggest things that we're looking for is really this sort of mentorship, but also it could be friendt orship. It could be a mutually beneficial, accountable and vulnerable relationship with someone who maybe is our boss or on another team, just someone to look after us. And I will tell you firsthand, the next job that I had after the toxic experience was also remote, but the manager that I had in that next experience juxtaposed to my prior experience night and day and it made all the difference. And I was able to learn so much in that next role because I had someone who actually was invested in my growth and in my career and in me as a person as well.Karen Plum:
A toxic manager is a toxic manager wherever they are, whether you're in the office or you're working remotely. But I think your point about managerial skills is very well made, because if people haven't been trained and coached in how to manage people that they can't see all of the time, then that's going to exacerbate the situation and make it worse.Danielle Farage:
I've heard this one quote the other day, that said once the respect in a relationship is lost, the relationship is irreparable.Karen Plum:
Yeah, it's like trust, isn't it? Once you've broken it, it's real hard to get it back again Right, exactly. So, not surprisingly, gen Z people want many of the same things that earlier generations did. Where it's different, i think, is that maybe they've reached these conclusions earlier in their careers and are more willing to explore other opportunities if their employment doesn't yield results for them. I've heard people say that Gen Z aren't interested in culture, as they don't stay very long in any one company. I asked our guests what they felt about that and about the importance of culture to them.Chanel:
Take myself, for example, I'm very fortunate I still live with my parents. I haven't got that financial pressure on myself other than my own financial pressures that I personally put on myself. Haven't got that that. I have to stay within a role if something isn't working out for me. Like I said, I'm not money motivated anyway, but something isn't working out. I want to make sure that this organization is a good fit and at the end of the day, i'd rather stay somewhere longer, and part of finding that is finding somewhere with that strong culture that you can align quite well with. You know, I'm just going to jump ship and see this possible and I think across my generation, particularly at my age, that that it makes it a lot easier to do so.Jordan:
When I started off academia, my idea of a career is that you are what you do, your work defines you and you have a career in which you are something. However, i've come to learn that it's better for me to learn new skills, gain new experiences and then move on, that a job does not define who I am as a person. It is only something I do for money and improve my skills and also to contribute to my community in some way. I do not have to do the exact same thing for decades in order to prove that I'm somehow loyal to my own community, because I am always doing something useful. So that is how I see it, and if someone wants to change jobs every two years, all the power to them. I think they should definitely do that if the companies that they're working for aren't compensating them enough and they're not growing as an individual.Karen Plum:
And earlier you heard Chaithra say that her generation isn't scared of quitting and changing jobs, unlike previous generations, and she brought up the question of value.Chaithra:
I think our generation is not ready to undervalue themselves and work in a toxic work culture And I think, with that, some perks, like I think now menstrual leaves are a thing and most of the companies are looking at it and holidays taking vacations is something important and saving up, and I think the value that you're providing to your employer will, in turn, be directly proportional to the value that they provide the company. So if you value them, you will be able to get better work from them.Karen Plum:
And our cheese monger Claire says she and her friends are seizing opportunities following their passions and have more unusual career paths.Claire:
And a lot of my friends are in pretty unique work situations, as I am. You know, i have a friend that owns an art gallery and a friend who just left a corporate job to go shuck oysters and all kinds of interesting things. I do think we all talk a lot about just wanting to gain more skills, whatever they might be. I think that's something my generation is more comfortable doing, doing what speaks to them. I took a very non traditional path where, you know, i didn't go to college after high school and I've been able to be super successful without that and just kind of following what sounds fun to me.Karen Plum:
Claire and several of the others emphasise the importance of learning and developing their skills. They want to be helped and supported, which is why culture is so important to them.Chaithra:
So, at least for freshers with less than like two or three years of experience, i think, mandatory training for a month or two or three, also so that they understand a lot of things, like it's not even about the major technical things that you have doubts about, it's like all these tiny things Like, for example, i didn't know the proper difference between reply and reply all on wheels, so that are like the small things that we as freshers have no idea about. So I think training is also definitely important and maybe if we can find a mentor in the workplace who can guide us, who has a similar background educationally, so that would really help freshers entering the industry.Chanel:
I wanted to work somewhere who was sort of at cutting edge of research, which, you know, many people who work with AWA are constantly on the lookout for developments and things like that which is really really interesting and so important for this line of work. So it was partly that, partly the flexibility, partly just that it was a really good opportunity in terms of my own development, of my own career And, yeah, partly those are just seemed like it was full of nice people, to be honest, who work well together.Harika:
I have worked mostly as an intern. in most of the places People were kind enough to help me learn, since on with me as well were like interns. So I got an opportunity where they gave me my time to learn and then, you know, get into it. And in some places it was not the same case, when I was the only intern in some places. So it was hard and it's not easy for someone new as well.Karen Plum:
One of the things that came across as the need to be heard. They want to participate, to contribute. They have passion and a sense of purpose. Many look for organizations whose purpose and values align with theirs. Again, not an exclusive Gen Z requirement, but I like the way Jordan summed it up.Jordan:
If you're not being heard, you're almost not even part of the company. You need to feel like you're not just working for a company, that you're actually part of the team and your opinions matter and your opinions are valued, no matter what position you're working in, because every single position is important and every position is an important piece in the entire cog that runs the clock.Karen Plum:
Another aspect important to some of them is the desire to travel to expand their horizons and to grow. Some organisations are relaxed about people combining vacation time with business trips these days, something which wasn't encouraged in the past. Harry Kerry is keen to travel to expand her experiences and bring new perspectives to her work, And Claire's company recently sent her to Europe to learn their cheese-making techniques. Her brief wasn't just to learn for herself, but to share with her colleagues and her customers A clear demonstration of her employer's willingness to invest in her development. So lots of things Gen Z are looking for. So what can we do to meet their needs? Let's hear Danielle's top tips.Danielle Farage:
One of the things that I talk about and I actually have a live training slash experiential workshop coming out. I partnered with my friend Debra Debra Olshan Cooper on it. It's called Passion into Power And it's the first time I'm actually doing an experiential workshop on one of my tips, which is Friendtorship. So we spoke about mentorship and potential ways you can relate to your younger counterparts. Friendforship is a mutually authentic, beneficial and vulnerable two-way relationship between two people of any age. It can take place in or outside of work, or in both, and it's focused on three pillars, which I call the three L's, which are what can I learn, what can I leave and what can I leverage? And the point of the three L's is really to open up people's eyes and enable them to have deeper conversations with themselves around their own blind spots. What can I learn? What am I vulnerable enough to admit I don't know To then think about the ways that their knowledge and experiences could help others right. What can I leave for the next generation or the older generation? We all have different strengths and lesser strengths as generations. Also, i think the piece about competence here is really important. When people have competence in themselves and their own abilities, it becomes easier to then ask questions and to open yourself up to curiosity and learning. And then the third one, right Leverage. Well, how can I leverage that? How can I leverage what I have in terms of my knowledge to help others? And so friendship is really this new way of thinking about relationship building, and it's something I really do think is critical for organizations to at least try to embrace. In today's world, because we all have different skills, i think we could all be a little bit more open in terms of what these intergenerational relationships could do for us and how they could serve us in our everyday. And then the second little tip, which I have lightly touched on I think that we have a PR problem in terms of we're not necessarily talking about our organizations enough in terms of employer branding and explaining why people should come and work for us and with us and what it means to be a part of an organization. What are you doing to talk about your organization in a way that people can really find their own meaning in the work? How can you retain people? by enabling them to share their story of how their work is meaningful to them, and then how are you able to then tell that story to prospective employees and talent to attract them and for them to really believe that they have an opportunity to learn and find their own version of meaningful work at your organization. Because you're the type of organization that enables people to do so. Right, it gives them the tools and the time and the autonomy and the flexibility, the trust right. All these words are things that people want and that they gravitate towards. And when someone loves their job, they're like a light, and they're like a light for others as well. Right, they'll tell their friends about it and their friends will suddenly want to join. And I think, especially in a time where social media is not going anywhere right, it's important to think about your organization as an employer and its presence online and how it's being communicated.Karen Plum:
I think Danielle makes some great points. I love the three L's, particularly encouraging us to be vulnerable with others, to admit what we don't know. I think the pandemic helped us to be more vulnerable and we became more human, particularly to those that we manage, whether we touched on the skills of hybrid managers or the lack of them. Many managers receive very little training for any form of management, and hybrid working puts yet another strain and expectation on them, and this is why AWA works with clients to help managers develop the skills they need to manage remotely. Gen Z may be digital nomads, but they're also the generation that studied and joined the workforce remotely thanks to the pandemic. Many feel this deprived them of the social connections and interactions that are so valuable at this time of life. Developing friendships at work gives us our sense of belonging and helps us feel respected, supported and valued. These are two-way relationships and they're valuable for us as people, but also for how teams work together and how they work with other teams. Through connecting with others, we also learn about ourselves and what we need at work. Organisations that get this put energy into helping individuals and teams to develop those relationships, whether that's done in person, virtually or, ideally, a mix of the two, that social cohesion is really important, and that's why AWA developed the Working Together Agreement, a way for teams to explore how they want to work together and to make things work for them as a group. For Gen Z, it's an opportunity to be heard, to have their needs taken into account and to help them learn more about their colleagues. If you'd like to know more about working together agreements or hybrid manager development, please get in touch. There are details in our show notes or explore our website advanced-workplacecom. So, yes, gen Z have a lot to learn. That's not surprising. We all did when we started work, but, as Danielle says, don't assume that what worked before is going to work now. Things are different. Gen Z grew up in the digital world, with ready access to information and knowledge in a way that wasn't possible for previous generations. So they have opinions, passions and values. They want to contribute and to be appreciated, but they will also question why do it that way? Maybe there's a better way. And that's it for this episode. I'd like to thank all my guests Chaithra, Chanel, Claire, Danielle, Harika and Jordan for sharing their thoughts with me. I hope we've provided another window into the needs and desires of the latest generation to join the workforce. It's not the one-dimensional image many would have us believe. If you'd like to hear future episodes of the DNA of work, just follow or like the show. You can contact us on our website, advanced-workplace. com. Thank you so much for listening. See you next time. Goodbye.