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Purpose over Pay: The key to unlocking Gen Z’s potential goes beyond their pay packet

Contrary to some narratives, young people are not just seeking a paycheck; they're on a quest for purpose and meaning in their work. Let's delve into what makes this emerging generation of talent tick and how organisations can tap into their potential.

Understanding their priorities

Young workers know what they’re looking for from an employer and how they want to work with organisations to unlock their potential. The trick is going far beyond appealing to their pay expectations.

According to the World Economic Forum, Gen Z (those in the workplace under 26) will account for almost 30% of the global workforce by 2025. Yet, with many organisations struggling to recruit and retain young talent and frequent narratives around their poor work ethic and attitudes in the media, some professionals have been left disillusioned about this generation, scratching their heads as to how they can attract them to roles and how best to work with each other.

So, what do Gen Z really want?

Our new research has found that young workers are passionate about delivering social value and ethical practices, seeking purpose over higher pay. In fact, just two in five rank salary as more important than a company’s values, and half say they wouldn’t work for an organisation that didn’t align with their values.

The survey of 1,000 18–25-year-olds also found that 57% know what they’re looking for in an employer, and 58% know the values they expect from a company they choose to work for.

It revealed that Gen Z value other factors above renumeration, with almost two thirds (64%) saying that a demonstrable commitment to Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is important to them, and 60% placing value on a company’s commitment to improving sustainability.

The nature of the job also plays a crucial role for Gen Z, with 64% agreeing that it’s important to produce work that they believe to be meaningful.

These statistics are particularly surprising given that young people are entering the workforce in economically challenging times. Despite these challenges, this group still value purpose over their pay packet.

Gen Z in the workplace infographic

How can organisations meet Gen Z’s expectations?

It is not just about what a company does, it’s about how they do it too. Our research found that a fully office-based role does not appeal to younger generations of workers, with just 15% saying they’d prefer this kind of role, and nearly half saying they would not take a job if it didn’t meet their preferences regarding working style and location.

Gen Z working style infographic

Young workers also have high expectations of their employer when it comes to their own wellbeing. Over half (57%) say the organisation they choose to work for has a responsibility to look after their wellbeing, while 52% say their employer should actively improve their wellbeing. Moreover, nearly one in three (30%) say that they would take a pay cut as long as the money was invested back into the organisation’s culture and wellbeing programme.

Yet, recent research from Vitality found that employees often do not feel that their workplaces promote their wellbeing. In fact, one in five say their managers don’t care about their health at all.

It is clear that Gen Z knows what they want from an employer yet many don’t feel their wants and needs are currently being met.

Gen Z wellbeing in the workplace infographic

For organisations to be able to truly tap into this talent pool, it is critical organisations empathise with Gen Z and nurture an environment where they can thrive. Reverse mentoring is an effective tactic which companies can use to achieve this. It is a scheme which sees junior colleagues taking on the role of a mentor to senior colleagues, providing an opportunity for all employees to safely share their views.

Schemes which actively seek to promote multigenerational harmony, such as reverse mentoring, can encourage more open conversations between employees, particularly around mental health and wellbeing. If you’re a senior leader, it’s a useful tool for getting ahead of the game and understanding your workforce.

Embracing Gen Z's values and priorities is not just a necessity but a strategic advantage. By aligning missions and meeting Gen Z’s expectations, organisations can tap into the potential of this generation and drive positive change.

Find out more about our culture and values here at Grayce.

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