Workplace Expectations: Generation Z

News outlets can often be unreliable sources for this sort of information as they lack an understanding of the years/age group that encompass Generation Z. A lot of what is considered Generation Z’s work expectations is actually groundwork set by 1990 - 1996 Millennials. If you wish to do more research it’s better to refer to empirical data collected from people aged 26 - 16 as of 2023 for accuracy, as the two generations are often discussed in tandem [by news outlets].

Characteristics of Gen Z

According to empirical data the characteristics of Generation Z are as follows, ‘based on the findings of Generational White Paper (2011), Generation Z tends to be impatient, instant minded, lacking the ambitions of previous generations, have acquired attention deficit disorder with a high dependency on the technology and a low attention span, individualistic, self-directed, most demanding, acquisitive, materialistic and entitled generation so far.’(Agarwal, et al) Max Mihelich (2013) notes ‘the Generation Z are very concerned with environmental issues, very conscious of looming shortages and water shortages which indicates that they have a high sense of responsibility towards the natural resources.’ (Agarwal, et al.)

Though there is also data that suggests the opposite, that ‘Generation Z tend to be more entrepreneurial, trustworthy, tolerant and less motivated by money than Gen Y. They are more realistic about their work expectations and optimistic about the future.’ (Mărginean) ‘Generation Z is also characterised as entrepreneurially minded, innovative, more open towards business and international activities than previous generations, thanks to their bond with the digital.’(Mărginean)

You will often see data sets that present rather extreme findings as the perception of Gen Z is often influenced by biases. These prejudices frequently stem from a disdain for social media, a general dislike of younger generations, and a contempt for Gen Z’s overwhelmingly progressive and anti capitalist stance. This idea is evidenced through empirical data showing that 54% of American Gen Z are anti-capitalist (Wronski) and 67% of British Gen Z want a socialist government (IEA Editors).

The key to understanding what Generation Z wants from a workplace or employer is to unpack their politics. They are overwhelmingly pro-union labour voters, with 46% of Gen Z men voting Labour and 65% of Gen Z women also voting labour (Mcdonnel, et al.) during the 2019 election when the eldest of Gen Z voters were 22. A large portion of Gen Z who are currently working age are socially and fiscally leftist. This fact is crucial to understanding their workplace expectations as they are more concerned with workers rights, fair pay and equity within workspaces.


What do Gen Z want from work?

They are more likely to value racial diversity in upper management, gravitate towards companies that pay a livable wage (adjusted for inflation), companies that provide accommodations for neurodivergent and/or other disabled employees, companies that are pro-union and are also demonstrably dedicated to net zero carbon emissions.

‘Generation Z seems to be shifting its approach to professional life, tending to evaluate ‘the role a workplace plays in the context of their personal life and not that of the individual within the company they work for’’ (Mărginean) Gen Z value work life balance and boundaries within employment spaces e.g working only contracted hours, less likely to remain in a job where they are expected to work uncompensated overtime.

Gen Z are also more likely to want to work from home or take up hybrid jobs with 77% of working age Gen Z considering looking for a new job if their employer asked them to return to the office full time (Deloitte Editors).

Over half of UK Gen Z (51%) say they feel stressed all or most of the time, higher than the global average. Stress levels are even higher among women, LGBT+ respondents, ethnic minorities, and those with disabilities. (Deloitte Editors) The awareness of inhospitable work environments is also a leading concern for Gen Z so companies that claim to ‘be like a family’ (Luna) in job descriptions are also likely to deter a Gen Z applicant. Companies that have a lack of racial diversity, women in leadership or a drive to create an inclusive environment are also considered undesirable to Gen Z applicants.

Gen Z and millennials are also interested in interviewing their employers to see if the company works for them and not just the other way around. Some workers who have been subject to layoffs, have even suggested that we as a society should make honesty about poor workplace conditions, and bad employers more commonplace (Kugle). Building upon progress and standards set by previous generations — millennials — Generation Z seems to be most focused upon creating and fostering work environments that are both beneficial and equitable for all members of society, rather than just a selected few.


Agarwal, Hemlata, et al. “WORK VALUES OF GEN Z:Bridging the Gap to the Next Generation.”

Deloitte Editors. “Two thirds of UK Gen Zs and millennials opt for remote and hybrid working.” Deloitte, 17 May. 2023.

Dunlop, Amelia. “More Empathy? Extra Time Off? Here’s What Gen Z Wants At Work.” Forbes, 8 May. 2023.

IEA Editors. “Society and culture: 67 per cent of young Brits want a socialist economic system, finds new poll.” iea, 6 July. 2021.

Kugle, Parks. “‘The real truth is like this company gave me f*cking PTSD’: Laid-off worker urges job-hunters to ‘normalize’ being honest about former employers.” DailyDot, 25 May. 2023.

Luna, Joshua A. “The Toxic Effects of Branding Your Workplace A “Family”.”HarvardBusinessReview, 27 October. 2021.

Mărginean, Alina Elena. “Gen Z Perceptions and Expectations upon Entering the Workforce” European Review Of Applied Sociology, vol.14, no.22, 3921, pp.20-30.

Mcdonnel, Adam, et al. “How Britain voted in the 2019 general election.”YouGov, 17 December. 2019.

Wronski, Laura. “Axios|Momentive Poll: Capitalism and Socialism.” SurveyMonkey, 2021.
Continue reading

Subscribe now

Get monthly updates with helpful guides and insights.