Written by Gemma Clarke
Every working generation experienced a significant loss of work and strains on their career during the pandemic. Thankfully now, most of the world is adjusting to the “new normal,” transitioning back to the office and receiving heavier workloads. However, amongst this, a whole generation is entering the workplace during these challenging times.
In 2021, Generation Z will be the youngest members of the workforce, aged 18 to 24. Many of these youngsters had just found their first job before the pandemic hit. Others had to put their job hunting on hold to see how the pandemic would affect their chosen industry. Now, this generation is being dubbed as “Generation Resilient” for their fresh, inspiring approach to life and work.
Gen-Z’s response to the global pandemic
When the pandemic hit and companies started to downsize, the “last in, first out” approach meant Generation Z was the first to go. This was the first job for most young people, having been in the workplace for under a year. Therefore, you would assume, this unfortunate situation would destroy the little confidence they had. However, what we are seeing is quite the opposite.
Generation Z has proven to be the most versatile age range during this time. They have embraced this adversity to not only become stronger individuals but to rethink their educational and work goals, too. So what is it that Gen Z is looking for when it comes to job searching in the evolving post-pandemic work environment?
- A mission that aligns with their passion
Generation Z is proving just as eco-conscious as the Millennials. Both generations agree that a company’s social impact and mission are among the most important factors when it comes to job hunting. Plus, many actively look up a company’s CSR initiatives before applying for a position.
Gen-Z is keen to make the world a better place and wants to work for a company with the same values. They are also much more likely to get involved in a company’s social impact movements than the older generations.
2. A mix of remote and in-person work
For many Gen-Z workers, remote work is all they have experienced. Now, as the traditional 9–5 office job slowly re-emerges, many Gen-Z workers are not in a rush to say goodbye to the laptop lifestyle.
According to the authors of “Working with Gen Z,” 69% of Gen Z want to work remotely at least 50% of the time. However, only 30% of Gen Z want to work remotely full-time. Many feel they are more productive and engaged when working from the office. So, it seems the youngest members of the current workforce are searching for a creative hybrid that blends the freedom of remote working with the social interaction of an office environment.
3. In-person meetings and training
Two aspects of the job that Gen-Z employees do not want to do remotely are meetings and training. It seems that Generation Z is just as tired of virtual meetings as the rest of us. What’s more, considering many had to finish their degree online, they are over online learning, too.
Furthermore, Gen Z’s preference for in-person interactions is likely down to their complicated relationship with technology. This generation grew up with smartphones and social media accounts and is the most adept at using technology. However, they are also painfully aware of the effects of social isolation, which many experienced during the pandemic.
4. Acceptance of non-traditional qualifications
Those in the Gen Z age range are either still studying or have recently finished their education. In 2021, employers need to shift their mindset from accepting applicants from traditional education backgrounds.
Due to the pandemic, many young people used this time to study new skills and gain modern qualifications, such as online courses and virtual certificates. While in the past, these alternative qualifications would not hold much value. Today, forward-thinking employers are starting to see these applicants as proactive and driven individuals who would be an asset to their company.
5. Mentoring and professional development
Young Gen Z adults care deeply about self-development and seek to improve themselves in all areas of their lives, including work. While their parents and grandparents may have been happy to “float” in the same job for years without progressing, Gen Z will not settle for this.
It’s not that they strive to become leaders, as many do not favour managerial positions at all. Instead, their desire to advance is down to their passion for being the best version of themselves. Therefore, Gen Z workers look for employers who will mentor them or companies with mentoring and professional development systems in place, along with a clear progression ladder.
What’s more, Gen Z employees don’t just want to develop their current skills, but they want to learn new ones too. As a result, they favour companies that offer job rotation programmes or job opportunities outside their current field.
One of the biggest trends we’re seeing emerge from Generational Z right now is their thinking outside of the box approach. Our young members of society have the most diverse range of skills, technical expertise, and the ability to learn and adapt quickly.
Therefore, they are thinking of innovative ways to work and are considering newer, non-traditional career paths such as app development. In addition, many are keen to start their own business rather than work for someone else too.
Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Survey found that Generation Z has experienced the most hardships from the pandemic. As they were fresh into the workplace, they had much less work and life experience to draw from compared to the rest of us.
However, despite their setbacks, Gen Z is emerging from this crisis with strength and resilience. They are bringing transformation to the workforce, and the smartest employers will welcome their fresh ideas and evolve into a future-thinking, innovative company.