For years, companies have been focusing on attracting the millennial market — as customers and employees — but attracting the newest generation, Gen Z, demands a new playbook. This demographic, which is starting to graduate from high school or college and get their first full-time jobs, has grown up with technology at their fingertips and prominent social issues at the forefront of their lives. They’ve lived through the Great Recession. And then the pandemic. They will be impacting the way we work for years to come, so now is the time to get ahead of the changes required for your business to flourish in the future with them leading the charge.  

In this episode of the PRovoke Media Podcast, Diana Marszalek, senior reporter at PRovoke Media, is joined by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn, Josh Morton, vice president and head of corporate communications, Nestlé North America, and Gretel Perera, head of Expedia Brands PR, Americas, Expedia Group, to discuss how to meet Gen Z’s workplace expectations and what it is they want from future employers. 

Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but according to Morton, what Gen Z wants is to see change. 

“When you look at millennials, we think about them as kind of the ‘me generation,’ a generation that really aspires to do a lot of things and always wanted to aspire,” he said. “When you take a look at what Gen Z wants to do, aspirations, great. But they actually want to do it. It’s less about the commitment. The commitments are great. Consumers want to see commitments, but what they really want to see, what they really purchased on shelf or what they really connect with as an employee, is action.”

This hunger for progress likely comes from their different circumstances compared to generations before. Members of Gen Z are more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. These might seem like small factors, but they can have a big impact for the future of work. 

“As we think of us getting back to the office, what it means, the kind of culture that we can put together and engage people with, we have to take into consideration the fact that that Gen Z looks quite different,” Bloomgarden said. 

Their differences will demand new ways of work. 

“If they're going to come back to the office, it's not about doing your email, sitting at your desk,” she said. “It's more about being creative together, collaborating together, getting support from each other and building a sense of community.

Key Moments:

1:24: Creating a Culture That Suits Gen Z
5:23: An Entrepreneurial Spirit Regardless of Company Size
9:46: What Matters: Authentic Leadership and Sustainability
13:46: Create a Culture of Community and Caring
16:03: The Importance of Employee Resource Groups for Belonging
18:55: The Future of Work is a Hybrid Model
22:48: Zoom Fatigue is Real: Here’s What’s Next