What managers should know about Generation Z work ethic

Who is Generation Z, what is their work ethic like, and how can you organize the workspace to suit their work ethic?

September 6, 2021

What managers should know about Generation Z work ethic

Who is Generation Z, what is their work ethic like, and how can you organize the workspace to suit their work ethic?

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Generation Z is entering the workforce. If you buy into the stereotypes, you might think they are great with technology, a bit arrogant and even overconfident. But is this true and what should you know about the Generation Z work ethic?

Who is part of Generation Z?

Generation Z is the latest cohort added to the workforce. The different generational groups don’t have official definitions but most of them have widely recognised frames. For Generation Z, the generally accepted starting point is 1997. This generation also includes people born in the early-2000s.

Technology is another defining feature of Generation Z. To them life without technology seems almost unimaginable. No wonder American psychologist Dr Jean Twenge calls the generation the iGen.

The first wave of Generation Z has entered the workforce. Even more of them will show up in the coming years. What should managers know?

What is the work ethic of Generation Z?

What about their attitudes to work? The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc surveyed over 3,000 members of Generation Z across the globe. The survey showed them to:

  • Believe they are the hardest working generation ever, with 32% agreeing with the statement.
  • Think they have it the hardest, with 36% agreeing with the statement.
  • Feel high school (39%) or college (42%) didn’t prepare them enough to enter the workplace.

They are entering the workplace with the knowledge it won’t be easy. They are confident they can work hard even though they feel the institutions they come from might not have equipped them with the right skills.


Despite the doubts, Generation Z feels they are in charge of their destiny. A Monster survey found Generation Z to think they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their career path. 76% believe they are responsible for their career development.

The Kronos Inc survey shows the priorities Generation Z has when it comes to their work ethic. Generation Z’s work ethic calls for:

  • Flexibility, with 26% stating they’d work harder and remain loyal to a company longer if they had flexible schedules.
  • Respect (34%) and recognition (32%) to feel they’re successful, although a good salary (44%) and career advancement (35%) are still more important.

Flexibility is at the heart of everything for Generation Z. You can’t force this generation to work when they don’t want to. If Generation Z isn’t allowed to use annual leave days as they please or made to work back-to-back shifts, you might find them looking for a new job. But these workers will put in the effort if the conditions are right. In the Monster survey, 58% said they would work nights and weekends if the pay is higher.

What should managers know about working with Generation Z?

If you want to get the best out of Generation Z work ethic, you need to be aware of their needs.

The Kronos Inc survey had a few interesting findings on what Generation Z wants from the management. Quite a few of them prefer not to have a manager at all, with 21% of respondents wanting to avoid it.

When they have a manager, Generation Z is clear about what they seek from the management. They want managers who:

  • Trust them (47%)
  • Support them (40%)
  • Care about them (35%)

Generation Z is a digital generation but don’t let it fool you. This group of people still want face-to-face communication from their managers. They appreciate personal feedback and prefer in-person communication.

How to organize the workspace to suit Generation Z work ethic?

What does the above tell about the kind of workplace Generation Z is looking for? If you want the work environment to appeal to this generation, you need to:

1. Create flexibility

Flexible workplaces are crucial for Generation Z. At Contractbook, we agree with the sentiment and think remote work is beneficial for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic was an example of the usefulness of a flexible workplace. You never know when your employees need to adjust their work environment. Studies have also shown the benefits of flexible work.

It’s a good idea to start adding options to where, when and how your employees work. Offer the option to work from home or adjust their work schedules.  

2. Nurture personal growth

The surveys highlight how Generation Z feels they don’t have the tools to succeed at a workplace. They look for support from the managers. They often enter the workforce with little work experience. Companies have to find ways to develop their skills.

Provide continuous training and development. Ensure they gain new skills and improve existing ones. Remember skill development is more than improving job satisfaction. Businesses benefit from it as well. It guarantees your employees can upskill and adjust to a changing work environment.

3. Be smart with technology usage

As mentioned, Generation Z work ethic needs in-person connection. You shouldn’t erase personal connections with technology. Focus on building relationships within the workforce by promoting collaboration.

Technology can help with collaboration. It can help teams connect. You can even strengthen your teamwork with remote team building activities - more on this here.

Generation Z appreciates the benefits of technology in the workplace. Your business needs to use technology to provide generation Z with:

  • Workplace flexibility by using tools to support remote work. For example, document sharing tools can ensure employees can access work outside of the office.
  • More control over their work. Generation Z doesn’t like micromanagement so you should use digital tools that give them the agency. For example, use HR tools to give employees more control over their schedules.

Technology should be part of your workplace. But it doesn’t have to replace all human connections.

4. Emphasize authenticity, ethics and values

Generation Z works hard for the right employer. Salary continues to be an important factor in choosing the organisation. But this young workforce also cares about company ethics and values.

Social issues like diversity and environmentalism are important to Generation Z. They want companies to behave ethically, according to a Deloitte study. As an employer, you need to start focusing on your message if you want to attract talent. Empty words are not going to cut it.

This generation also has a different outlook on authority. Whereas older generations tend to respect authority even when they don’t agree with it, the younger generations are more vocal at resisting it. The management needs to be transparent. If you communicate feedback and changes openly, you can get generation Z on board.

5. Personalize the work experience

It’s also worth noting how Generation Z’s work ethic ties with their individuality. A McKinsey study looked at their attitudes and noticed individual identity at the core of their thinking. Generation Z even uses consumption as an expression of this individuality.

This has implications for the workplace. The generation will expect a personalized experience rather than a corporate framework. You can appeal to the generation with personalized access to benefits, for example. Allow your employees to pick and choose benefits instead of providing everyone with the same option. Things like that can show them you care and support them.

Welcome Generation Z to your workplace

Knowing about Generation Z work ethic can help management prepare for the young workforce. This generation is more selective when it comes to employers. They want authenticity and clear values. But in the right environment, they are willing to put in the effort. Generation Z will also adjust and adapt to new challenges, as long as they have your support.

HR

What managers should know about Generation Z work ethic

Krista Lomu
September 14, 2021

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What managers should know about Generation Z work ethic

Generation Z is entering the workforce. If you buy into the stereotypes, you might think they are great with technology, a bit arrogant and even overconfident. But is this true and what should you know about the Generation Z work ethic?

Who is part of Generation Z?

Generation Z is the latest cohort added to the workforce. The different generational groups don’t have official definitions but most of them have widely recognised frames. For Generation Z, the generally accepted starting point is 1997. This generation also includes people born in the early-2000s.

Technology is another defining feature of Generation Z. To them life without technology seems almost unimaginable. No wonder American psychologist Dr Jean Twenge calls the generation the iGen.

The first wave of Generation Z has entered the workforce. Even more of them will show up in the coming years. What should managers know?

What is the work ethic of Generation Z?

What about their attitudes to work? The Workforce Institute at Kronos Inc surveyed over 3,000 members of Generation Z across the globe. The survey showed them to:

  • Believe they are the hardest working generation ever, with 32% agreeing with the statement.
  • Think they have it the hardest, with 36% agreeing with the statement.
  • Feel high school (39%) or college (42%) didn’t prepare them enough to enter the workplace.

They are entering the workplace with the knowledge it won’t be easy. They are confident they can work hard even though they feel the institutions they come from might not have equipped them with the right skills.


Despite the doubts, Generation Z feels they are in charge of their destiny. A Monster survey found Generation Z to think they are in the driver’s seat when it comes to their career path. 76% believe they are responsible for their career development.

The Kronos Inc survey shows the priorities Generation Z has when it comes to their work ethic. Generation Z’s work ethic calls for:

  • Flexibility, with 26% stating they’d work harder and remain loyal to a company longer if they had flexible schedules.
  • Respect (34%) and recognition (32%) to feel they’re successful, although a good salary (44%) and career advancement (35%) are still more important.

Flexibility is at the heart of everything for Generation Z. You can’t force this generation to work when they don’t want to. If Generation Z isn’t allowed to use annual leave days as they please or made to work back-to-back shifts, you might find them looking for a new job. But these workers will put in the effort if the conditions are right. In the Monster survey, 58% said they would work nights and weekends if the pay is higher.

What should managers know about working with Generation Z?

If you want to get the best out of Generation Z work ethic, you need to be aware of their needs.

The Kronos Inc survey had a few interesting findings on what Generation Z wants from the management. Quite a few of them prefer not to have a manager at all, with 21% of respondents wanting to avoid it.

When they have a manager, Generation Z is clear about what they seek from the management. They want managers who:

  • Trust them (47%)
  • Support them (40%)
  • Care about them (35%)

Generation Z is a digital generation but don’t let it fool you. This group of people still want face-to-face communication from their managers. They appreciate personal feedback and prefer in-person communication.

How to organize the workspace to suit Generation Z work ethic?

What does the above tell about the kind of workplace Generation Z is looking for? If you want the work environment to appeal to this generation, you need to:

1. Create flexibility

Flexible workplaces are crucial for Generation Z. At Contractbook, we agree with the sentiment and think remote work is beneficial for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic was an example of the usefulness of a flexible workplace. You never know when your employees need to adjust their work environment. Studies have also shown the benefits of flexible work.

It’s a good idea to start adding options to where, when and how your employees work. Offer the option to work from home or adjust their work schedules.  

2. Nurture personal growth

The surveys highlight how Generation Z feels they don’t have the tools to succeed at a workplace. They look for support from the managers. They often enter the workforce with little work experience. Companies have to find ways to develop their skills.

Provide continuous training and development. Ensure they gain new skills and improve existing ones. Remember skill development is more than improving job satisfaction. Businesses benefit from it as well. It guarantees your employees can upskill and adjust to a changing work environment.

3. Be smart with technology usage

As mentioned, Generation Z work ethic needs in-person connection. You shouldn’t erase personal connections with technology. Focus on building relationships within the workforce by promoting collaboration.

Technology can help with collaboration. It can help teams connect. You can even strengthen your teamwork with remote team building activities - more on this here.

Generation Z appreciates the benefits of technology in the workplace. Your business needs to use technology to provide generation Z with:

  • Workplace flexibility by using tools to support remote work. For example, document sharing tools can ensure employees can access work outside of the office.
  • More control over their work. Generation Z doesn’t like micromanagement so you should use digital tools that give them the agency. For example, use HR tools to give employees more control over their schedules.

Technology should be part of your workplace. But it doesn’t have to replace all human connections.

4. Emphasize authenticity, ethics and values

Generation Z works hard for the right employer. Salary continues to be an important factor in choosing the organisation. But this young workforce also cares about company ethics and values.

Social issues like diversity and environmentalism are important to Generation Z. They want companies to behave ethically, according to a Deloitte study. As an employer, you need to start focusing on your message if you want to attract talent. Empty words are not going to cut it.

This generation also has a different outlook on authority. Whereas older generations tend to respect authority even when they don’t agree with it, the younger generations are more vocal at resisting it. The management needs to be transparent. If you communicate feedback and changes openly, you can get generation Z on board.

5. Personalize the work experience

It’s also worth noting how Generation Z’s work ethic ties with their individuality. A McKinsey study looked at their attitudes and noticed individual identity at the core of their thinking. Generation Z even uses consumption as an expression of this individuality.

This has implications for the workplace. The generation will expect a personalized experience rather than a corporate framework. You can appeal to the generation with personalized access to benefits, for example. Allow your employees to pick and choose benefits instead of providing everyone with the same option. Things like that can show them you care and support them.

Welcome Generation Z to your workplace

Knowing about Generation Z work ethic can help management prepare for the young workforce. This generation is more selective when it comes to employers. They want authenticity and clear values. But in the right environment, they are willing to put in the effort. Generation Z will also adjust and adapt to new challenges, as long as they have your support.