The Human Element is Key: What Our Research is Teaching Us about Gen Z

When we brought in four young interns this summer at RainmakerThinking we realized we had a great opportunity to have Gen Zers interview their peers.

We’ve been studying young employees since our founding in 1993, when Gen X was the focus of our generational research. Since then, we have kept our finger on the pulse of the ever-newest emerging young workforce. Right now, that is those born 1995-2002. They’ve been called iGen and Post-Millennials, but Generation Z is the moniker that seems to have stuck.

It would be a mistake to assume that Gen Zers are following directly in the footsteps of the Millennials before them. Most obviously, while Millennials saw social media and the internet take shape, Gen Zers have never known the world any other way. It is true that Millennials ushered in a new era of norms and values in the workplace for everyone of all ages. But ‘Millennial’ isn’t a blanket term for ‘young people’, and Gen Zers haven’t hesitated to point this out. Gen Zers are keen to distinguish themselves.

This summer we focused our Gen Z interns on interviewing their peers. With their help, we devised a survey based on the eight “dream job factors” that we have identified in our ongoing research over the last 25 years:

  1. Performance-based compensation
  2. Supportive leadership
  3. Role and responsibilities
  4. Location and workspace
  5. Scheduling flexibility
  6. Training and development
  7. Relationships at work
  8. Autonomy and creative freedom

Our Gen Z interns interviewed Gen Zers and asked them to rank the value to themselves of each factor on the following scale:

  • Not Important At All
  • Nice But Don’t Need It
  • I Would Like to Have It
  • I Would Love to Have It
  • Won’t Take the Job Without It

After surveying 4,093 Gen Zers, by individually collecting data in-person as well as gathering responses online, our interns identified one overwhelming factor: the value of the human element.

Despite their reputation as politically outspoken digital natives, Gen Zers are not indecipherable aliens from another planet. In fact, they value high quality interaction with managers, coworkers, and customers at work more than any other factor surveyed.

The big takeaway? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Gen Zers only want to interact with screens, they can only be engaged by technology, or that you need to entirely rethink your management strategy in order to retain them. If anything, Gen Z demands that you commit even more to the fundamentals of highly-engaged management: meeting regularly 1-on-1, coaching performance every step of the way, and supporting career development within your organization. Combining these fundamentals with an awareness of the issues and concerns that matter to your young workers will set your organization up for success.

Download the full report to learn more — The Voice of Generation Z: What Post-Millennials Are Saying about Work.

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