How will Gen Z transform the workplace?

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Featured in The Drum

Gen Z already make up over 20% of the world’s population; they’ll be more than a quarter of the workforce in three years (and Generation Alpha is hot on their heels). They bring with them native knowledge of digital and social, developed understandings of community and identity and deep ethical commitments. How is their growing presence in the office (hybrid or otherwise) changing our workforce and its outputs? We asked The Drum Network – including some real-life Gen Z-ers.

Emillie Hawes, head of social, AgencyUK

Incredibly, it seems only in recent years that marketers have realized that those to whom they’re talking on digital and social media platforms thrive from human connection. This has transformed the language and approach used to interact with a brand’s audience.

The arrival of Gen Z feels like a battering ram against archaic approaches by agencies and brands. Social is now used to connect long-term with consumers, instead of quickfire sales. Nurturing and growing communities is just as important as those ‘add to cart’ metrics.

Gen Z, with their ability to accept people at face value, has helped earlier generations become comfortable with what’s real. This new wave of ‘realness’ breathes trust into brand positioning, encouraging customer journeys to move from social to digital more succinctly. This is supported by the boom of genuine connections with the likes of micro-influencers, who can relate to people on a real level, taking over from celebrities. Where will Gen Z lead us? Hopefully to a much kinder, more inclusive digital space.

Amy Dewar, business development executive, Raptor Marketing

Gen Z possess strong moral principles that they expect to see enforced in the workplace. While earlier generations have matured into social causes, Gen Z have grown up surrounded by evolving social justice issues, and so are highly engaged in them. They’re ready to demand that companies take social justice seriously, and will ruthlessly pursue the goal of equity, diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

Gen Zers are becoming tired of inauthentic promises of a dynamic, stimulating work environment; they want to see tangible evidence from their prospective employers.

As a Gen Z graduate who has entered the workforce following the pandemic, I believe that my generation’s drive, strong moral standpoint, and desire for transparency from employers will be key factors shaping the workforce. We’re ready to make our mark, and hungry to enact the change needed to build a fair and progressive workplace.

Renae Shaw, head of people, Search Laboratory

Gen Z and Generation Alpha have grown up in a world of convenience, choice, and information at the click of a button. We will see an even greater emphasis on employee experience and the need to engage with staff in both slick and meaningful ways. Deep connection and alignment with their employer’s values are important. The gap between work and personal life has never been smaller. Brands that fail to recognize this will struggle to attract and retain talent.

Younger generations are making a stand against inequity, unhealthy work cultures and the plundering of our planet with a level of intensity we haven’t seen from previous generations. At Search Laboratory we’re proud to make a stand with them as we care deeply and authentically about being an ethical and sustainable business. Authenticity is so important. We learn as much from our staff as they learn from us and we will continue to listen and grow our digital and social awareness together.

Eilish Hughes, SEO account director, Tug

While millennials were the last generation to suffer dial-up internet, Gen Z grew up connected to great wifi and better gadgets. They accept tech, innovation and automation as a fact of life. They’re an asset to agencies in their ability to adapt to new tools and technologies, as well as in their nature to want things to be speedy and effective.

Gen Z expects more from everyone. They want their colleagues to be better, more brilliant, more interesting, and more creative. They demand people be kinder, fairer, and do more for others and the planet. Gen Z may not just want to work with companies and brands that do good, but be involved in that change themselves. Perhaps we’ll see new departments or agencies focused specifically on sustainable marketing.

Our outreach team at Tug does a great job of empowering Gen Z members by recognizing their unique insight into real trends. Who gets it wrong? Anyone who delegates all the TikTok work to the youngest hires in the office.

Bernie Thomas, PPC specialist, Vertical Leap

Studies show Gen Z has similar priorities to millennials in terms of workplace flexibility, creativity and freedom of expression. But their demands for diversity, ethical business and other social causes are even more intense.

Brands and agencies need to satisfy these demands to attract and retain top talent as Gen Z takes over the workforce. Companies that succeed in this shift will win the talent race and appeal to Gen Z consumers as their spending power increases. Smart businesses are already implementing these changes.

Before joining us, one of our PPC experts applied for a position at a major airline that was adapting a media specialist role to suit the talent available, rather than force applicants into traditional moulds. They’d already hired an influencer, a vlogger and a developer to work with a PPC specialist and they were still interested in other skill sets.