What Gen Z’s really want from work – The intangibles

What Gen Z’s really want from work 

Gen Z's, who now represent a significant portion of the workforce, are bringing unique experiences and worldviews to the workplace. They're digitally native, socially conscious, and managed to survive a global pandemic and are starting their careers remotely. Snacks in the breakroom aren't their main concern. They're "conscious candidates," seeking passion and purpose to inspire their best work. 

After speaking with numerous ServiceNow interns over the last few weeks, these are my top takeaways for companies looking to create the work culture Gen Z's want.

Cultivate passion. Gen Z's don't only want to talk about work with their peers. They view the workplace as a space to engage with others around issues they're passionate about, inside and outside of work. Sharing passions with coworkers allows Gen Z's to feel more connected, especially in a digital setting.  

"Being able to advocate for things we care about at work is beneficial to both the employees and the company," says Paco Wong, a quality engineer Intern from Indiana University. 

Connecting in this way can only happen if Gen Z's feel comfortable expressing themselves in the workplace. "Gen Z’s like us have slowly realized that we have to feel passionate and excited in order to produce our best work," says Wong. “This includes loving the work that we do but also not feeling the need to hide our authentic selves.” Leading by example is the best way for company leaders and managers to encourage workplace authenticity–have your own passions, encourage taking time to volunteer, and carve out time in meetings to discuss things besides work. And if there's a project that a Gen Z employees are particularly passionate about, encourage them to pursue it. 

Respond substantively to current events. Gen Z's are constantly engaging with big issues of the day, and not only on social media but also among their peers. Companies that ignore or fail to thoughtfully respond to signature issues and events can send the wrong signal to Gen Z's. Avoid this with clear communication and dialogue––and make sure that messaging is consistent at every level of the company, starting at the top.    

"In my very first ServiceNow All Hands meeting, I got to witness first-hand the accepting company culture. Employees were able to share their thoughts and opinions on pressing social issues, including the BLM movement and Pride Month," says Kylee Kim, a global talent HR care delivery intern from San Jose State University.  

Tangible actions in response to current events shows employees they belong, regardless of background or position. "When a company embraces core values of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, this allows me––and other employees––to feel comfortable, valued," says Byron Nelson, an ADR sales intern from the University of West Georgia.

Know your why. "Whenever I'm recruiting, I always look at what the company stands for," says Wong. He's not alone. Why does the organization exist, beyond just making products or services? Purpose is becoming a make-or-break criterion for Gen Z’s when choosing a company. 

Purpose is not about donating or volunteering; it’s the reason why any company succeeds and what connects employees to leadership, and vice-versa. "At orientation, they talked to us about one of ServiceNow's values––hungry and humble,” says Nelson. “I don't think I really understood its importance until I started working in the sales org and saw how passionate we are about our customers. Across the company, everyone I've met pretty much bleeds this value, and keeps me motivated, especially when I'm working remotely. 

In a digital environment, without that in-office buzz and inspiration, purpose is more important than ever to Gen Z's, because it provides a meaningful foundation to work when the bigger picture is harder to see. Great company culture can also be the difference between hiring qualified people and nailing down top Gen Z talent. “It’s so important to me that I not only enjoy what I do but where I do it and whom I do it with,” Kim says.

With remote work becoming the norm for many organizations, these intangibles form an important part of what Gen Z’s really want from work. Creating the kind of culture that speaks to Gen Z’s will also unlock potential within employees of all generations. 

Our recent research, shows Gen Zs are defying some of these stereotypes in the workplace. Take a look at the study: Gen Zs and the Future of Work.

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