Everything changes when given time. Interests, people, society, music, technology, and so on, all change. The workplace is no exception, with change not just being present, but expected. Part of what contributes to those changes are the perspectives and knowledge of the workforce. As different generations enter the workforce, they bring their own experience. The oldest members of Generation Z are now in their early 20s, and many more are entering the workforce every day. This generation will have a considerable influence in how we shape our organizations and the workplace of the future.

Forbes and Deloitte agree that Generation Z will revolutionize the workplace. Motifs from articles and other resources share the idea that Generation Z expectations include a high-tech workplace with a good work-life balance and a decent amount of human interaction, allowing the employees to be creative with their work. Other sources and first-hand interviews confirm these same ideas. While outside sources can be a highly viable option for gathering trends and general information, nothing can match firsthand conversations with those working with Generation Z.

After gathering opinions and experiences, I have a general understanding of what current employers think Generation Z desires in the workplace. The most common things I heard included diversity, transparency, equal opportunity, technology, flexibility, less bureaucracy, independence, and a relaxed work environment. This information was gathered by speaking with individuals I know who deal with Generation Z in a working environment on a regular basis as well as colleagues of my own.

As a Gen-Z-er myself, I think they got much of this right. I wholeheartedly agree with the topics mentioned. However, I have my own perspective and suggestions for the ideal workplace that I am certain will help with attraction and retention of the next generation of talent entering the workforce. In an ideal work environment, I would want a diverse cast of people, both senior leaders and individual contributors. There would need to be a good balance between projects requiring collaboration and projects requiring independent work. I would want my employer to be invested in both the employees and the local community, especially through outreach and group events, and I would also want the entire staff to be as transparent as possible. Having confidence that coworkers and leaders are not keeping information from me builds trust and deepens relationships. Well-informed employees tend to make well-informed decisions, so transparency is key to engaging others.

My ideal workplace would have an” open-door” policy. Any employee regardless of rank or seniority could have access to interact one-on-one with the CEO or any senior leader at different points in time without penalty. Access to leadership and being able to be a contributor fosters a sense of welcoming and engagement, and most importantly, makes me feel valued. In addition, equal opportunity, regardless of any unique trait, should be non-negotiable.

Embracing and utilizing new technology is a key requirement for my ideal workplace. Generation Z, me included, is highly technologically able and wants to demonstrate that in the workplace. A relaxing and comfortable environment is important to me and my generation. There really needs to be a casual, laid back, and welcoming environment. Many of my generation do not like the extra-formal, suit-and-tie workplace in which everyone sits in a sterile cubicle. We thrive in modern, welcoming, fun workplaces that stimulate growth and innovation. My office at LAK Group is a notable example of this, where the laid-back atmosphere combined with fun activities and beautiful grounds stimulate my desire to be productive and work effectively.

A Generation Z-friendly workplace should allow open thoughts, commentary, and criticism, fully embracing free speech and contribution for the better of the company. On the topic of freedom, employees need to have freedom to complete tasks their own way, rather than doing it in a way set in stone. Generation Z is highly creative, and they think critically in new and innovative ways that may push traditional boundaries.

Primarily, the workplace needs to be flexible with scheduling and where we work. A combination of working at home and at the office would be a fantastic benefit and frankly would be highly enjoyable. There should be little bureaucracy and drama, as well as less management where applicable. Speaking from experience and research from resources such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn, sometimes senior leadership can hinder progress rather than advancing it. Where applicable, there should be a promotion of a ‘let me do my job’ mentality. These factors, combined with reasonable hours and above-market pay with benefits and no taking advantage of employees, fulfill my ideal workplace.  

So, what does this all mean? This list given here is simply my personal wish list and a general list of helpful suggestions for employers looking to satisfy Generation-Z employees entering their workplace. Needs and wants will always vary from worker to worker, but Generation Z is a different kind of worker and we all have our own changes we want for the workplace. The old ways of running a workplace will not work for Generation Z, and the new generation of workers need to realize that the incoming workers are not the same.

A current senior at Catholic Memorial High School and graduate in spring of 2021, Sam has been an Intern at LAK Group since October of 2020. He has been a business student for three years and has a wealth of experience assisting others and studying business as well as owning his own start-up. His strengths include collaborating with others, his work ethic, willingness to learn, and always-positive demeanor. In his free time, Sam enjoys collecting and restoring retro video games and systems, driving, and running his own 3D printing side business, which he uses to serve others and finance his hobbies. He is looking to study business in college, with a focus in human resources or international supply chain management. You can reach Sam at his email, smenheer@lak-group.com.