The Greatest Gen Z Workplace Expectations You Need To Know


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A new generation is preparing to enter the workforce, so it’s time to change our approach once again. While Generation Z is similar to millennials in many ways, knowing their differences is crucial in effectively communicating and helping them reach their full career potential.

Here’s what you need to know about Generation Z’s career expectations:

Entrepreneurial spirit

Just like millennials, Generation Z is already being categorized as a lazy generation by many of their elders, but their deep desire for entrepreneurship shows otherwise. In fact, according to a SHRM survey, among the nearly 2,000 survey respondents from both generations, 17 percent of those in Generation Z said they wanted to start their own business and hire others to work for them. This compares to only 11 percent of millennials who wanted to own their own business.

Focus on what that entrepreneurial spirit means for this generation as you get to know your students. Look for drive and passion towards business and help them get internships with entrepreneurs in their field of study. This will help them see what it truly means to own a business and the unique steps some entrepreneurs take to reach their goals.

Owning a business isn’t for everyone — sometimes it isn’t even for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Encourage Generation Z to consider jobs where their drive, passion, and desire to be their own boss can shine. Sales jobs and freelance work are just two ways they can work for an organization, but not feel the restraints of a traditional work structure.

Advancement opportunities

Look out millennials — Generation Z is headed for the workforce and they’re ready to push their way to the top. Unlike the generation before them, Generation Zs top motivator isn’t money. Instead, the previously mentioned SHRM survey found 34 percent are motivated by opportunities for advancement.

As a career counselor, this calls for a sigh of relief. Rather than looking for a career with the highest pay — which we know is difficult for college students to find in their first job — Generation Z has set goals to find companies where they can grow. This is personality type internships were created for, so it’s important to show students how starting early on with an internship can help them move up the chain of command within a company.

It’s important to remember that opportunities for advancement only happen if an employee stays with the organization. Understanding your students’ personalities is crucial for helping match them with a company culture they’ll thrive in and want to stay for the long haul — enhancing their advancement chances.

Communicative leader

Watch out for the many stigmas attached to millennials that are carrying down to Generation Z. Much like the generation before them, your upcoming graduates are dealing with the misunderstanding that because they like technology, they’re poor communicators.

However, just like millennials, 30 percent of Generation Z are in search of a leader in an organization who is communicative, according to a Randstad survey. While a communicative leader is important, not everyone responds to the same form of communication.

Get to know how your students like to be communicated with on a daily basis. Are they most comfortable with face-to-face interaction, emails, text, or maybe video chat? In today’s business world, all of these are a possibility, so it’s important to determine if they would succeed best in a  corporate office or somewhere with location flexibility.

Individual personalities

This is what many career counselors forget when all of this generation talk and new statistics come out — every person in every generation is different. All of your students are unique, and even though Generation Z has characteristics you need to pay attention to, don’t force students into one giant mold.

Survey your students, or even try talking to their friends and professors to fully understand what they expect/need out of a career. See what classes they’re taking and where they’re excelling to determine what field they’d excel most in.

Most of all, don’t forget internships are one of the best ways for students to understand the workforce and where they’ll best fit into their upcoming world. Freshmen and sophomores often overlook the idea of internships, but the earlier students begin discovering themselves, the easier it will be for you to help them find the best career for them.

What are a few differences you’ve noticed about Generation Z compared to millennials? Let us know!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.