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Everything You Need to Know About Gen Z in the Workplace

 Everything You Need to Know About Gen Z in the Workplace

Gen Z are the face of the future, and to attract and retain talent of this generation you will need to lead with culture. These 25-and-unders know what they want and aren’t afraid to demand it. They’ve also experienced a lot of turmoil from social unrest to the pandemic and now a looming recession, so they are looking for organizations to lead with culture and understand how that culture impacts the wellbeing and satisfaction of their people.

What exactly does lead with culture mean? It means making culture a priority, recognizing its importance to people’s wellbeing and satisfaction, and embedding culture into every part of the organization to create a unifying experience for everyone. Leading with culture is vitally important to Gen Z because for them, their work is an extension of themselves. They want their work to be as meaningful and satisfying as the other elements of their life and they want a seamless integration of the two. To achieve this you can begin by focusing on the culture elements that resonate highly with Gen Z and work to solidify your culture through both significant initiatives and everyday moments.

What culture elements are most important to Gen Z?

The culture elements that resonate highly with Gen Z in the workplace include flexible work, attention to overall wellness, career development and an unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. These elements stem from your values, with values-alignment being one of the strongest determinants for attracting and retaining Gen Z.

Purpose Driven Values

Gen Z is too often written off as a lazy generation – they only want to travel the globe and make TikTok videos hoping one will go viral and make them famous. The truth is, Gen Z do want to work, but they want to work with purpose. They want their work to mean something and most often this means working for an organization that has strong values that are aligned with making the world better. As you think about leading with culture take time to examine your values and make a decision about what you want to be in the market and how you want to operate in the larger community through your commitment to broad societal challenges like climate change, poverty, and sustainability. As a leader, ensure your actions and decisions reflect these values consistently and meaningfully and that they are integrated through all aspects of your operations.

Flexible Work

We know the pandemic has changed the workforce and Gen Z is front and centre with its desire for a flexible and fluid work culture. Remote work and hybrid options are very important to Gen Z. They have grown up with technology and they

understand its capacity to enable work from everywhere. Having flexible options puts the responsibility in your people’s hands to decide where and when work gets done. This has the added benefit of satisfying Gen Z’s independent streak and desire to be trusted. When you give Gen Z more self determination over their schedule this translates to trusting them to do their best work period. Leading with culture in this area means embracing flexible work practices throughout the organization whether that means creative and adaptive scheduling for people that must attend the worksite, supporting a fully remote work environment, or instituting a fully flexible time-off policy. Key to successful workplace flexibility is making sure all of your people have access to the flexible options that work for them.


For Gen Z, wellness is holistic, meaning it encompasses a wide range of practices geared toward physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Mental wellness is particularly important and Gen Z are ardent supporters of de-stigmatizing mental health issues and promoting mental health initiatives. Stress management is another area of high importance and is correlated with the need for flexibility and sufficient time off. When you lead with culture this means developing organizational policies that care for your people in all aspects of their life in addition to the health related benefits everyone appreciates like gym memberships, access to healthy snacks, and quiet spaces for meditation and reflection.

Career Development

Gen Z is all about forging a career path that satisfies them at all stages of life. They have seen their parents stick with one organization for 25+ years, earn a pension and only then start ‘living’. Gen Z prefer to live as they work and that means a career path that provides interesting and stimulating work assignments with twists and turns that adapt with them, versus the straight-shot, upward or bust, career progression of the past. Organizations that lead with culture will develop a multidimensional approach to career development that includes cross training, department shifts, multidisciplinary team opportunities, and geographical moves in additional to the more traditional increases in responsibility and leadership. When your culture values career changes and skill acquisition as much as advances up the org chart, Gen Z will be inspired to move and grow with you allowing you to retain their talent and preserve their organizational knowledge.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Gen Z is itself very diverse, and they are highly educated. This means they demand a workplace that reflects the diversity they see around them and that is inclusive for everyone. This generation has seen the detriments of non-inclusive practices and they have very little tolerance for the intolerant. They also value fairness and equity in the workplace and want to see everyone have the same opportunity to achieve their goals. Representative leadership is important as is ensuring all employees have a voice in how organizational decisions are made and the direction of the company. To lead with culture here, examine how well your polices and values are aligned

with your commitment to diversity and make an effort to walk the talk from the C-Suite to the shop floor and ensure DEI principles are reflected in everyday moments.

Gen Z is changing how organizations think about their people practices mainly because they are demanding, rather than hoping, their organizations lead with culture. For these young workers, leading with culture is an expectation because they understand how important the work environment is to their satisfaction and wellbeing. The new practices being heralded in as a result are a bonus for all generations and ones that great workplaces have been committed to for a while now. Great Place to Work gives you the tools and data you need to lead with culture - and guides you on the best actions to take to preserve what's working, improve what isn't, and promote job satisfaction for all

If you’re not already using the Great Place to Work survey, reach out to us to learn about how we can help you improve employee engagement and become eligible for one of our Best Workplaces lists.

Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.

Nancy Fonseca
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