What Do Gen Z and Millennial Workers Want at Work?

Millennials and Gen Zers are looking at specific things when browsing prospective employers — such as values, diversity, well-being, and more.

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What Do Gen Z and Millennial Workers Want at Work?

Millenial and Gen Zs make up nearly half (46%) of the workforce. These workers have gotten a reputation for job hopping, or leaving to pursue their own interests. But Millennial and Gen Z workers are also some of the most educated and creative, and many are simply looking for companies whose values align with their own.

So what appeals to Millennials and Gen Zers when looking for their next move? What types of values do they look out for when browsing prospective employers? Below we explore what each cohort wants and values at work.

1. A transparent company with ethical values

One of the most standout features of Millennial and Gen Z workers is the significant value they place on corporate ethics. Some ethical issues that are top of mind for this group include the environment, sustainability, and diversity (more on this below).

Millennials and Gen Zs want to be associated with a company with a strong corporate brand that cares about the world at large. In fact, 77% of Gen Z respondents in one Deloitte study said they consider it important to work for a company whose values align with theirs. The report goes on to say, “Not only must companies have strong ethics, they have to demonstrate they take action consistent with their ethics and values, and this action must be front and center of their brand for prospective Gen Z buyers and employees to see.”

77% of Gen Z respondents in one Deloitte study said they consider it important to work for a company whose values align with theirs.

Ignoring ethics as a business will also contribute to hiring issues: 31% of respondents in one study said they would turn down a job if a company had poor sustainability and ethics credentials.

Transparency is closely tied to ethical values, and young workers want open and transparent leaders, according to Gallup. They hypothesize that this is because older millennials were working during the 2008 recession, received mixed messages about the economy, and took on student loans as the economy was falling apart. So young workers now heavily value transparency — particular around pay, strategy, and revenue.

2. More diverse workplaces

Gen Z, in particular, is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, and 53% of millennials identify as non-white. So it should come as no surprise that they want their workplaces to reflect that, with 87% of them saying diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is very important to them.

Young workers expect their companies to be proactive about DEI. Eighty six percent of young workers in one study said they plan on joining a DEI ERG or committee, meaning your HR department should establish one if you haven’t already done so! It’s in your company’s best interest to ensure policies and teams are in place to address issues around DEI, because the Washington Post finds that Millennial and Gen Z workers are actively avoiding companies without a diverse workforce. Moreover, having a diverse company can contribute to your workforce’s overall well-being, increase revenue, and encourage more innovation.

3. A culture with an emphasis on well-being

Millennial and Gen Z workers want a company that cares about their well-being and overall wellness. In fact, it’s their top priority, according to Gallup. This is perhaps one of the most important values that has emerged throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, for all workers. LinkedIn’s 2022 Global Talent Trends report does a deep dive into this shift. When looking at the top areas to invest in to improve corporate culture, 42% of people chose mental health and wellness, the third most popular response after development opportunities and flexibility.

Wellness is more important to millennial and Gen Z workers than previous generations: 66% of Gen Z and 51% of millennials said that they’d like to see more investment in mental health and wellness to improve company culture, compared to only 41% of Gen X and 31% of Baby Boomers.

4. Flexibility and work-life balance

A McKinsey study found that 18 to 29 year olds were most interested in a hybrid work setup (48%).

Millennial and Gen Z workers value flexibility, both in location and schedule. According to a Wall Street Journal report, they ranked flexibility and adaptability as the most important employee characteristics for a successful business. Moreover, 25% of Millennials and 22% of Gen Zs “said they would like to work in the office “a little to a lot less often” than they did before.” But overall, what this group is looking for is flexibility and options: A McKinsey study found that 18 to 29 year olds were most interested in a hybrid work setup (48%).

Even the mere mention of “flexibility” appeals to millennial and Gen Z workers. When looking at the difference in engagement on a company’s LinkedIn post mentioning flexibility — relative to the average company post — Millennials are 30% more likely to engage with it, and Gen Z are 77% more likely.

Under the umbrella of flexibility is the idea of having a better work-life balance. When looking for a new job, maintaining a good work-life balance is top of mind for young workers, with 80% saying they consider how a new job will impact their work-life balance. Luckily, many millennials and Gen Zs are now in positions of power, and understand that their fellow colleagues need work-life balance to thrive. When Deloitte asked young people in management what their top priorities were (beyond profits), ~25% of them ranked work-life balance as the most important priority.

Looking beyond compensation

Millenials and Gen Zs make up a significant portion of the workforce, and are moving up the ranks. While all generations share overlapping values in the workplace, young workers, in particular, are unique in that they place importance on things other than compensation. They seek out companies who are transparent, ethical, care about diversity and wellness, and don’t expect them to work around the clock. Put simply, they look beyond compensation packages when looking at employment opportunities.

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