NEW YORK — Bucking their bad rap as unambitious, Gen Zers have set their sights on working their way up the corporate ladder, all the way to the C-suite, new research shows. It’s just that they want to do that on their own terms.

“This fall, the news is that ambition is here to stay,” said Kate Bullinger, CEO of Weber Shandwick’s United Minds, which oversaw the research. “Workstyles change with generations, and most have been fully disrupted in the last two years, but our survey shows that every generation is driven to succeed.

“In fact, despite being characterized as a generation of dreamers and slackers, Gen Z is poised to boldly reinvent what achievement looks like,” she said.

The survey of 1,049 adults, which United Minds did with KRC Research, found that Gen Z has the same lofty professional aspirations as older generations, including millennials and Gen X.

In fact, according to the Workforce or Workforced report, Gen Zers are twice as likely to want to be a CEO (38%) or team leader (37%) than Gen X (18%) or boomers (21%).

That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re eyeing the corner office; More than half of Gen Z respondents said they prefer working remotely and would like to continue doing so even in a top job. The majority, or 58%, of Gen Z values the flexibility of working from home, versus 44% of boomers.

Respondents across generations, however, believe the future of work still includes a physical office, and seven out of 10 believe employees should be required to meet in-person at least part of the time. 

When asked about going “above and beyond” or “doing only what they must” at work, Gen Z was much more likely to report the latter with 39% vs. 30% of millennials, 16% of Gen X and 7% of boomers.

Respondents across all ages said they would prefer to “make more money” than “make more impact.” Gen X is the most motivated by money (70% vs. average of 66%); Boomers are the most motivated by purpose (38% vs. average of 34%).

Gen Z, however, can be a tough crowd to please, with 65% considering a gap between what they want at work and what they get as an “insurmountable” or “significant” issue. Millennials (45%), Gen X (47%), and boomers (63%), however, see it as “manageable.”

“We watched Gen Z enter the workforce mid-pandemic, and for better or for worse, they’ve come through that experience with a mindset of prioritizing flexibility and opportunity all the way to the boardroom,” Bullinger said. “In retiring the 9-to-5 in-office grind, this generation of talent is poised to create change and hopefully establish a new blueprint for future generations to come.”