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Survey: Gen Z and Older Peers Want Similar Things from Their Work Lives

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
May 21, 2024

Defying their stereotypes, members of Generation Z want many of the same things at work as their older peers, Business Insider reported.

Younger workers desire fair pay, advancement opportunities and flexibility, professional services and research firm Seramount discovered after interviewing nearly 400 American workers of various ages in late 2023. 

Seramount's report "identifies and debunks five myths about Gen Z," according to its executive summary. "These stereotypes can bias managers and colleagues alike against Gen Z employees. The research also uncovers five truths about Gen Z that will help leaders create a better, more inclusive workplace for all employees."

The report first debunked the myth that members of Gen Z are lazy. it found that "Gen Z are just as dedicated as their older colleagues. Forty percent of Gen Z ...participants agree with this statement: 'I am inspired to work hard at my company—the exact same percentage as non-Gen Z participants.'" 

It further debunked the myth that Gen Z is the most salary-driven generation, finding that "Gen Z is highly motivated by salary—but so is everyone else."

Third, it debunked the myth that they’re motivated by different things than older employees, finding that "all employees share the same three core desires: compensation, advancement, and flexibility.

Fourth, it debunked the myth that they reject authority, finding that Gen Z is highly motivated by their relationships with their managers and view them as partners in their success.

Finally, the report debunked the myth that Gen Zers demand political involvement from organizations, finding that they are no more likely than non-Gen Zers to want their organizations to speak out in the face of societal or political turmoil.

The five truths that the report found about this generation are that they want to build careers; they prefer hybrid work; they’re navigating expectations and biases, and 59 percent indicate that they compromise how they communicate; they care about their company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; and they have the potential for loyalty.

"We're all ... looking for the same things: to have a decent salary, to make a decent impact on the world, and to value the work that we do," said Jon Veasey-Deters, a senior research analyst at Seramount and a Gen Zer, in an interview with Business Insider. "We're desiring that specific social element to our work and to better understand the colleagues that we're working with—and the organizations that we're a part of.”

Gen Zers don’t need to be with their colleagues every day, he said.

"The biggest thing that we found with Gen Z is they're valuing work-life balance and flexibility, first and foremost," he said. A hybrid schedule is the best way to address that, he said.

The survey found that nearly three in four Gen Zers like a hybrid setup, compared with only about half of workers in older generations. Only 11 percent of Gen Zers wanted to work remotely full time, compared with 34 percent of workers from other generations.

As companies face resistance from employers who do not want to return to the office five days a week, Veasey-Deters said that many companies that find success with their return-to-office policies often have workers gather "with a sense of purpose" around events instead of decreeing workers have to be in the office certain days.

The research also found that generations aren’t that much apart when it comes to making as much money as they can. Fifty-one percent of Gen Zers said salary was the most important part of a job, compared to 47 percent of older workers.

Gen Zers also want to get ahead. In the survey, 33 percent of Gen Z workers told researchers they expect to be promoted to leadership roles at their company, compared with only 19 percent of older workers. Forty-four percent of Gen Z workers want to be in charge of others, as opposed to  27 percent of older generations.