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Gen Z at Work [2023 Study]

We explored the opinions of 1,100+ Gen Z workers, uncovering their career aspirations, workplace must-haves, and the driving forces behind their motivations.

Agata Szczepanek
Agata Szczepanek
Career Expert
Gen Z at Work [2023 Study]

Gen Z at Work 2023

Generation Z. The newest cohort of workers. 

A group of restless, instant-gratification seekers who prioritize swift rewards over dedication and prefer blissful unemployment to the rigors of a less-than-satisfying job? Or a dynamic force, driving innovation, supporting diversity, and a fresh perspective?

Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, this group is characterized by their innate digital fluency, progressive values, challenging conventions, and unique approach to work.

We explored the realities of Generation Z in the workplace, seeking to separate fact from fiction and dispel some of the common stereotypes about them. Surveying 1,100+ Gen Z workers, we examined:

Key findings:

  • 83% of Gen Z workers consider themselves job hoppers.
  • 97% say that job is part of their identity. 
  • 41% of Gen Z would quit if they had to work too much overtime. 
  • 75% of Generation Z workers would quit their jobs without having another one.
  • 74% of Gen Z workers would consider a career as a freelancer if they can’t find a suitable job.
  • 93% of respondents happened to be working while on vacation/leave.

Feeling intrigued? Join us as we challenge assumptions, break down stereotypes, and foster a deeper understanding of how Generation Z is reshaping the workplace.

Gen Z on the job market

Take a look at some statistics about Gen Z on the job market.

  • According to the US Census, there are 68.6 million Gen Zers in the United States.
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that Gen Z will make up a third of the workforce by 2030.
  • According to PYMNTS, 65% of Gen Z feel like they’re living paycheck to paycheck.
  • LinkedIn says that Gen Z workers are switching jobs at a rate 134% higher than in 2019, compared to rates of 24% more for millennials and 4%less for boomers.

Now, it’s time to dig deeper. 

Gen Z on the job market

First things first. Is a job part of a person’s identity? 

97% of respondents admit that work is part of their identity (including 68% saying it’s moderately important and 29% saying it’s very important). 

These statistics underscore the intricate connection between Generation Z’s self-identity and their careers, revealing a generation that seeks purposeful engagement while preserving their sense of self.

Moreover, 33% of Gen Z have only had one job, while 34% already had two.23% proved themselves in three different workplaces, while 9% of respondents had four jobs. Just 1% have had five or more jobs. 

One or two jobs aren’t many. Still, 83% of Gen Z workers consider themselves job hoppers. 

Despite this, our survey also showed that most of these workers plan to stay with their current employer for a reasonable length of time.

  • Only 4% plan to stay with their current employer for less than a year.
  • 19% say they’ll stay for no more than one year.
  • 43% will plant roots for two years.
  • 22% declare they’re willing for a three-year commitment.
  • 13% intend to stay four years or more with their current employer.

And when it comes time to change jobs, it’s time to face job interviews. And Generation Z’s inquisitiveness converges around pillars that reflect their values.

We asked people what is the first thing they ask about during a job interview. 

  1. Development opportunities 
  2. Job benefits 
  3. Flexibility
  4. Salary 
  5. Position requirements 
  6. Team structure 

Surprisingly, “money” isn’t the first-choice answer. Information about development and benefits (chosen by slightly more than one-fifth of respondents) and flexibility (one-sixth of choices) took the podium.

Understanding what propels Generation Z in their professional pursuits reveals a spectrum of motivations that shape their career choices. According to our research, the driving forces behind their work include:

  • Personal development – 35%
  • Ambition and desire to prove oneself – 28%
  • Family responsibilities – 28%
  • Money – 25%
  • Making a difference – 25%
  • Having a sense of purpose – 25%
  • Passion – 24%

Generation Z’s work motivations are truly diverse. They prioritize personal development while balancing ambition, family commitments, and purpose-driven work. 

Even as they chase dreams, Gen Z faces shadows that cast doubt. 87% of respondents reported having job-related anxieties, covering:

  • Lacking job stability – 29%
  • Lacking career progression – 28%
  • Lacking flexibility (no remote or hybrid work, no flexible schedules) – 26%
  • Having an unfavorable work environment – 25%
  • Having a bad boss/manager – 24%
  • Doing meaningless work – 24%
  • Being laid off – 21%

The array of work-related anxieties Generation Z faces paints a vivid picture of the challenges they face. When examining these anxieties, it becomes obvious that Generation Z’s aspirations extend beyond mere employment.

Workplace expectations

gen z Workplace expectations

In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, the demands of Generation Z take center stage, providing valuable insights into the priorities that shape their expectations. Our metrics underscore the multifaceted nature of these demands, revealing a generation that seeks holistic fulfillment and meaningful engagement.

Gen Z workplace demands cover:

  • Flexible work schedules – 35%
  • Healthcare packages – 31%
  • Regular pay raises – 29%
  • Regular development opportunities, e.g., training, courses – 29%
  • Understanding of personal needs, i.e., having a life outside of work – 28%
  • Remote work opportunities – 27%
  • Mental health days off – 25%
  • Retirement plans – 25%
  • Diversity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace – 23%
  • 4-day-workweek – 20%

But workplace demands also cover the traits of a perfect boss. Respondents were asked to identify the most important characteristics of their ideal manager.

  1. Good decision-making abilities
  2. Focus on employee development and growth
  3. The ability to inspire and motivate
  4. Supporting mental health
  5. Respecting work-life balance
  6. Respect towards employees
  7. Transparency
  8. Fairness
  9. Empathy

Again, these metrics underscore a generation’s collective desire for a holistic and empathetic approach to leadership that matches their values and aspirations. 

Respondents were also asked to identify their two most critical work-related goals. 

Gen Z’s long-term career goals include:

  1. Having a good work-life balance 
  2. Starting their own business
  3. Achieving success and recognition
  4. Earning a salary that increases over time
  5. Getting promoted
  6. Changing their passion into a career
  7. Helping to make the world a better place with their work
  8. Becoming an industry expert

Here, we receive a blend of personal fulfillment, financial stability, innovation, societal impact, and continuous learning. At its core, the yearning for a work-life balance emerges as a foundational aspiration.

At the same time, the ambition to start their own business points to a desire for autonomy, while, for example, the desire to earn more and more suggests a drive for financial stability and prosperity. All of these underscore the diverse and dynamic nature of Generation Z.

But it’s not as if Generation Z only demands and gives nothing back. 

90% say they do more at work than is “officially” required by their job role, including, e.g., taking the initiative, engaging in additional work projects, or going beyond the scope of the job description.

To quit or not to quit?

gen z reasons behind the decision to quit the job

Generation Z redefines professional engagement and loyalty norms. This shift is particularly evident in their approach to their careers and the factors influencing their decisions to leave their current jobs. Their reasons for considering job changes often stem from a desire to align their professional journey more closely with their priorities and principles.

Among the top reasons for quitting, Gen Z workers mention:

  • Working too much overtime – 41%
  • Clash of values – 35%
  • Feeling unhappy because of their job – 33%
  • Low salary – 32%
  • Bad manager/boss – 26%
  • No work-life balance – 24%

Respondents were allowed to choose two reasons. Analyzing these reasons collectively makes it apparent that Generation Z’s approach to work is multifaceted and values-driven. Their focus extends beyond monetary gains to encompass well-being, values, and a conducive work environment. 

Intrigued why working too much is first on the list?

Within the study, we asked respondents how often they work while on leave, and by working, we meant doing any work-related task, such as checking and answering emails. 

And at some point, it becomes too much.

But there’s more. After all, Generation Z is all about redefining the work landscape with values and aspirations at the forefront. And sometimes, it’s not worth sacrificing your health, happiness, career, or beliefs.

  • 72% would quit their job if the working environment was toxic.
  • 72% would quit their job if it lacked development opportunities.
  • 71% would quit their job if it made them unhappy.
  • 70% would quit their job if it hurt their work-life balance.
  • 68% would quit their job if their values differ from their employer’s.
  • 68% would quit their job if they didn’t like it.
  • 65% would quit their jobs if they didn’t get along with colleagues.

Additionally, 75% of Generation Z workers would quit their jobs without having another one waiting for them.

Quitting a job and struggling to find the perfect one is not the end of the world for Generation Z.

74% of Gen Z workers would consider a career as a freelancer if they can’t find suitable employment.

Generation Z’s willingness to embrace freelancing showcases their readiness to explore alternative avenues for employment. They are not confined to traditional employment models but are open to embracing the gig economy and freelancing.

Money in the Generation Z era

The value of money in Gen Z world

Generation Z’s attitudes towards money paint a picture of individuals for whom success is more than mere financial accumulation. It’s a generation that seeks not just financial stability but a life well-lived, just as Joe Foreman sang, “I wanna be rich in memories, not money.” 

So, let’s talk about money in Generation Z’s world.

77% of Gen Z will apply for a job without salary information. 

However, this doesn’t imply that money lacks significance; instead, it holds importance both in the pursuit of employment and in the execution of professional roles.

For 70%, a competitive salary is important or very important in a decision to stay with a current employer.

But money isn’t everything.

As part of the survey, we had our respondents choose between money and another aspect of work and life. Not once did money win the battle. 

What is more important than money?

  • Healthy work-life balance 73% vs. high salary 27%
  • Satisfying job duties 72% vs. high salary 28% 
  • A good relationship with coworkers 72% vs. high salary 28%
  • A meaningful job 70% vs. high salary 30% 
  • Career development 70% vs. high salary 30%
  • Having a life outside of work 68% vs. high salary 32% 
  • Working for an employer with values that match your own 68% vs. high salary 32% 
  • Personal relationships (marriage, friendships, etc.) 68% vs. high salary 32% 
  • Personal happiness 67% vs. high salary 33% 
  • Mental health 66% vs. high salary 34% 

The data presents a clear and consistent narrative: for Generation Z, there’s more to work and life than pursuing a high salary.

Gen Z facts & myths 

gen z Facts and myths

Amidst the buzz surrounding this generation, many claims have surfaced, shaping public perceptions and generating discussions about their characteristics and impact. From digital addiction to social activism, the claims about Generation Z are as diverse as they are intriguing. 

In this part of the survey, we asked Gen Z to comment on negative and positive assertions about them. The numbers below represent the percentage of people who agree with the statements provided. 

  • Gen Z cares about their workplace rights – 72%
  • Gen Z make better work colleagues than other generations – 72%
  • Gen Z are more productive workers than other generations – 71%
  • Gen Z has better work ethics than other generations – 71%
  • Gen Z has a sense of entitlement – 70%
  • Gen Z enters the job market with little experience but is already bold in setting their expectations – 68% 
  • Gen Z lacks the motivation to work – 67%
  • Gen Z often refuses to stay after hours – 66%
  • Gen Z works to live, not lives to work – 66%
  • Gen Z quits if there is something they don’t like at the company – 66%
  • Gen Z has problems integrating with older colleagues – 65%

Overall, it’s evident that Generation Z brings a conscientious approach to their work. This commitment resonates strongly with their aspiration to create a positive impact and align their values with their careers. At the same time, these young people are aware of their shortcomings. This self-awareness is a crucial trait as they navigate the transition from education to the workplace, allowing them to learn, adapt, and evolve in an ever-changing professional landscape.

All things considered, is Gen Z changing the working culture for the better or worse?

85% of Gen Z believe they’re transforming workplaces for the better. 

This statistic echoes the broader narrative of Generation Z as agents of change, driven by their values and a desire for meaningful impact. Their belief in their transformative role shows their motivation to create work environments that align with their ideals and foster collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity.

Generation Z are not just passive consumers of workplace dynamics but active contributors to a transformative journey.

Methodology

The above-presented findings were obtained by surveying 1,131 Gen Z respondents online via a bespoke polling tool. They were asked questions about their workplace expectations and priorities. These included yes/no questions, scale-based questions relating to levels of agreement with a statement, questions that permitted the selection of multiple options from a list of potential answers, and a question that permitted open responses. All respondents included in the study passed an attention-check question.

Limitations

The data presented relies on self-reports from a randomized group of respondents. Each person who took our survey read and responded to each question without any research administration or interference. There are many potential issues with self-reported data, like selective memory, exaggeration, attribution, or telescoping. Some questions and responses have been rephrased or condensed for readers’ clarity and ease of understanding.

Fair use statement

Want to share the findings of our research? Go ahead. Feel free to use our images and information wherever you wish. Just be transparent and link back to this page, please—–it will let other readers get deeper into the topic.

Sources

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Agata Szczepanek
Agata Szczepanek
Agata Szczepanek is a career expert at ResumeLab. With her professional insight and thinking outside the box, Agata's mission is to help people from all backgrounds find their dream job. A master's degree graduate in Journalism and Communication and English Philology, her work has been featured by top media outlets, including Forbes, Fast Company, The Motley Fool, and HR Dive.

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