Don’s Sleep on What Gen Z Wants From Work

True story a client shared with me. “One of our employees quit because they couldn’t believe the audacity of us to say ‘no,’ they couldn’t let us know on Thursday that they needed Friday and Monday off to go to a Jack Harlow concert over the weekend.”

Employee retention is on everybody’s mind now, especially for contact centers. About 30-45% of contact center employees leave annually for voluntary or involuntary reasons. The Great Resignation is pushing those numbers even higher.

What about you? Is turnover an issue right now? 

Likely, a lot of your turnover right now is among Gen Z. Born between 1996 and 2010; Gen Z is quitting jobs in droves.

To hold on to Gen Z employees, we must understand what they want from the workplace.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with my daughter, a Gen Zer and a senior in college, to talk about what young people are looking for in jobs. 

I wanted to hear from my 22-year-old about job expectations because many of my clients struggle to find and retain employees. I want to understand what makes this generation happy and what it takes to keep them in jobs. 

Take a look at my daughter’s responses to my ideal workplace questions.

If you could have the perfect corporate environment, would it be in-office, remote, or hybrid?

Definitely hybrid. I want the flexibility to work from home a few days a week, but I also want the community you only get from in-person. A job that lets me work from home three days a week and appear in the office two days a week is ideal.

Lauren’s answer is precisely in line with the research. One of my clients, Balto, surveyed over 2,000 contact center employees and asked them what they needed to be fulfilled and successful in their roles. They found hybrid workers were happier than virtual and in-person employees.

See Balto’s survey results here.

Talk about the importance of flexibility at work. 

I’ve gotten into a rhythm of walking three miles in the morning a few days a week and going to cycling classes two mornings weekly. I want a job that allows the time to work around my preferences. 

Generations X, Y, and Z share my daughter’s desire for flexible work schedules. I know, I know! Flexibility in many, if not most jobs, is an oxymoron! But you need to know what potential candidates want. So, please, don’t dismiss the messenger!

Besides flexibility in hours and the option for hybrid work, what matters to you in a job?

Hmmm. I’d say autonomy—freedom to be authentically me; to contribute my ideas and creativity in a meaningful way. 

Lauren’s response doesn’t surprise me. For years I’ve told my clients that employees don’t want scripts or rigid standards. They need room to be themselves fully, freely, and easily. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about what it would take to hire and keep you in a job?

I’d want to feel appreciated-like I’m personally creating value, and that value is noticed.

Research backs Lauren’s remarks on appreciation. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number-one reason people leave their jobs is that they “do not feel appreciated.” – Tom Rath

For the best chance to attract and retain Generation Z, you must be open to hybrid work, figure out how to give more flexibility, create a culture of autonomy, and show employees genuine appreciation. 

Are you a Gen Zer? Let me hear from you. What do you need in a job? Are you an employer who has found ways to engage and retain employees during the Great Resignation? What’s working for you?