Currently, Gen Z makes up almost a quarter of the workforce. Representing those who were born after 1997, Gen Z is much bigger and more diverse than the generations that precede it.
This means that this generation’s expectations from society, and particularly the world of work, are unique. Gen Z’s perspectives have been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, gun violence in schools, and the crisis in Ukraine.
In light of this, research into more than 11,000 US high school or college-aged individuals by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) found that equity for all at work is their top priority when looking at organizations they want to work for.
The 2022 Career Interest Study found that Gen Z wants to work for organizations that reflect the diversity of the population – 22% told NSHSS that their own experience of racial inequality had influenced their career choices.
Fairness at work was ranked higher than flexible working, a good work life balance , and socially responsible organizations. In terms of social responsibility, Gen Z are particularly focused on human rights (35%), social justice (34%), and science and tech innovation (34%).
Gen Z, remote work and learning
While 37% of respondents told NSHSS they wanted a flexible working schedule, just 8% of respondents said they expected opportunities to work from home and only 23% said remote work is very or extremely important to them.
NSHSS noted that a potential reason remote work is not that important to Gen Z is because being (clunky) at home was soured by remote schooling during COVID-19.
This young generation’s attitude toward remote work is closely linked with their perspective on learning.
Learning is very important to Gen Z – and they want employers to step up and fund on-the-job training. Interestingly, they want this training to be in person (63%), rather than online or remote (13%).
67% told NSHSS that they wanted jobs that enabled them to learn new skills that would help them advance in their careers – 29% want a clear pathway to promotion, and another 29% wanted professional development opportunities.
26% also want to learn from their boss – Gen Z also expect a manager with good communication skills and who is supportive.
Gen Z further want their employer to help them to pay off their student loans (44%), they also desire tuition reimbursement for postgraduate courses (38%).
Gen Z want to work in medicine
NSHSS’s study also looked at the types of careers that this younger generation wants to have. The research showed that healthcare was top – this is not surprising given that they have lived through COVID-19 and can see the difference that hospitals and pharma companies made to that crisis.
As a result, unsurprisingly, local hospitals were the number one employer of choice.
NSHSS tracked the top 100 companies Gen Z want to work for (and compared to its 2020 report). It found that three of the 18 newcomers were in the medical space – the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (18), Pfizer (48), and Moderna (97).
Other notable healthcare organizations in the top 100 were the Mayo Clinic (7, down from 3), Johnson & Johnson (57, up from 72 in 202), CVS Caremark (68, up from 91), and UnitedHealth Group (78, down from 43).
It is clear that Gen Z wants to give back with their careers. Other sectors need to listen up and find ways to provide socially responsible jobs in order to ensure they have a sustainable pipeline of young talent to keep their businesses running in the long-term.