What do Gen Z employees want?
Let’s talk about the future. Specifically, the future of your workforce.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to have up to four generations of employees within a company. Here at Perkbox, we wanted to find out about Generation Z. For those who aren’t familiar, these are people that were born between 1997 and 2012. We were especially keen to find out about those of a working age — in other words, employees born between 1997 and 2004.
So, curiosity got the better of us and we surveyed 1,000 of them!
We wanted to know what they valued in a job. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected them? What are their employers doing well? Which benefits do they want most?
(Spoiler alert: the answers to some of these questions are not what you might think).
Now, when the youngest respondents to our survey were born (2004), the world was a very different place.
- Facebook was still being set up in a dorm room
- Australian Idol was the most watched show in the country
- Port Adelaide had just won an AFL Premiership (their first, and so far, last…)
However, some things have stayed the same.
The Wiggles are still capturing our hearts.
And businesses still have attraction and retention near the top of their agenda. Ultimately, it’s people who power a business, and the more insight you can get into their wants and needs, the better you can engage them.
Here are a few of the key findings from our report, along with our tips for employers. For more detailed insight, download our full report.
Gen Z: generally satisfied, but watch out for industry outliers
We’re all about positivity here at Perkbox, so we’ll start with the good.
81% of the employees we surveyed said they were satisfied at their current company. This shows that businesses are on the right track when it comes to engaging Gen Z. There were some outliers by industry — specifically within Retail, Catering and Leisure. Over a quarter (27%) of Gen Z employees in this area said they weren’t satisfied.
Remember, this is an industry which can suffer from low pay and lack of flexibility — and these are two of the things Gen Z employees value most. When we asked what was most important to them in a job, the top three selections were:
- Job satisfaction (95.2% net importance)
- Salary (94.8% net importance)
- Work-life balance (94.5% net importance)
It’s also worth remembering that Retail, Catering and Leisure was hit particularly hard by the fallout from COVID-19 — whether it was mass furloughs and redundancies during lockdown, high workloads when the country opened up, or the uncertainty created by the Omicron variant. Combine these with the issues around pay and flexibility we just touched on, and it’s clear that there could be real retention challenges within this industry.
Satisfaction doesn’t automatically mean loyalty
Now, we mentioned that the vast majority of Gen Z employees we surveyed were satisfied at their current company. But does this mean they’re content to sit tight? Not at all.
Our study showed that almost 4 in 5 (78%) said they’d thought about moving jobs in the last six months.
The main reasons were:
- More money (43%)
- The chance to move to a company with greater career development (33%)
- The chance to move to a company more supportive of young people (24%)
- A better benefits package (23%)
At no point should businesses think they’ve completely cracked the code, especially at a time where candidates in general hold a lot of the cards.
It’s time to get bespoke with benefits
Looking at the first and fourth bullet points above, it’s clear that benefits are a seriously important tool when it comes to employee attraction and retention.
As far back as three years ago, research suggested that almost two-thirds of Australian employees thought benefits were more important than the base salary when considering a job offer. This has continued to be the case, and with Gen Z in particular, our research shows they want meaningful benefits.
Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) said it’s important that benefits are tailored to them as an individual. However, over a quarter (28%) say that everyone in their workplace receives the same benefits, while 26% don’t even receive any benefits. Clearly some businesses still have a bit of work to do when it comes to putting the foundations in place.
Try to cater for as many types of lifestyles as possible. You might have some employees who are interested in gym memberships and holidays, whereas for others, something like life insurance is more important. This also means you have something to offer people even as they move through different stages of their life, which gives them another reason to stay with you long-term.
Also remember that with workforces becoming more global and dispersed, what works for employees in one country won’t necessarily work for another. So think big and think broad!
Wellbeing: actions speak louder than words
Let’s start with the positives again.
The majority of Gen Z employees surveyed are in a good place with regards to their mental and physical health.
- 60% rate their mental wellbeing as good
- 62% rate their physical wellbeing as good.
One explanation could be that they’ve come of age at a time when wellbeing is a highly prominent topic. For example, a simple Google search for ‘wellbeing tips’ brings up over 1.8 billion results. With so many resources available, perhaps Gen Z feels better able to practice self-care than previous generations could at their age?
But despite this, the majority of Gen Z employees also want more support from their employers.
- 66% said their employers could be doing more for their financial wellbeing
- 77% think their employers could be doing more for their mental wellbeing
- 51% think their employers could be doing more for their physical wellbeing
Offering tangible solutions is the key here. Talking about how much you care about employee health is one thing — but providing solutions to any challenges they may have is the most important. Whether it’s access to wellbeing tools, or practical things you can put in place such as regular check-ins or walking meetings — actions speak louder than words.
Can you also try to improve people’s work-life balance? This is especially important for Gen Z — over a third (37%) said they’d actually move to a lower paying job for a better work-life balance, just ahead of career progression.
How flexible can you be in terms of how and where employees work? Some people may want the option to work remotely. Some may want to start a little later, to squeeze in an early workout. The more you can tailor your working model to employee needs, the better it is for their wellbeing
Enhancing your annual leave allowance is also a cost-effective way of looking after people. Remember annual leave isn’t just for when you’re going on holiday. It’s a key part of everyone’s toolkit to prevent burnout. Gen Z have come of working age at a time where the topic of burnout (and mental health in general) is no longer uncomfortable to discuss. For them, having time and space to put their wellbeing first is an expectation.
Here’s a stat you might find interesting.
Almost a quarter of Gen Z employees would accept less money for more time off
We mentioned earlier that 37% of Gen Z respondents would move to a lower paying job for a better work-life balance, while career progression was the second most selected. But what were some of the other popular reasons that people gave?
Coming in at number three and four were ‘a better annual leave allowance’ (24%), and ‘a greater variety of benefits that suit my lifestyle’ (23%). This links in with some of our earlier points around flexibility and meaningful benefits — confirming that the wants and needs of Gen Z are more than just money.
The key takeaways
Gen Z are clearly a super resilient bunch. They seem to have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to boost their wellbeing and in some cases, used it as an opportunity to ensure they’re satisfied at their place of work.
But as well as being resilient and relatively satisfied, Gen Z are definitely not happy to sit tight and accept the status quo.
They’re very clearly looking around the market for jobs that tick their boxes, with the vast majority thinking of moving in the last six months.
In particular, they want their employers to do more for their wellbeing — especially financial and mental.
And aside from more money (which, let’s be honest, is a universal need), there are other things which Gen Z value highly in a job. Things like a better work-life balance, more progression opportunities, and meaningful benefits — these are things a lot of them would even move to a lower paying job for!
Gen Z are predicted to make up over 30% of the Australian workforce by the year 2025.
Attracting and then retaining them is far from easy, but hopefully some of our insights will help you along the way.