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What motivates Gen Z? It isn’t about the money!

A slow pace to offer roles, negative reviews online and visibly unhappy employees are the top three factors likely to cause a Gen Z candidate to lose interest in working for an organisation, new research from Kronos has revealed.

The workforce management software company has recently completed its Meet Gen Z Survey, providing a snapshot of what drives, motivates and disengages 16 to 25-year-olds, drawing information from a sample of 3,400 candidates across 12 countries.

“Gen Z is bringing new expectations to the workplace,” Kronos APAC and Latin America VP for Sales, Neil Solomon explained.

“They have strong feelings about how and when they want to work, especially compared to generations past. Leaders will need to familiarise themselves with the priorities of Gen Z in order to effectively manage and develop them.”

Despite being in the early stages of their careers, Gen Z is pragmatic about their approach to work, with around half in ANZ motivated to work by fear of being broke (56%) or so they can have money for personal activities (48%).

Similarly, 50% say their job is a way to make money while only a third (34%) think of it as a career building opportunity.

While not career driven, the 16-25 year olds command respect in the workplace, have high expectations of managers, and feel ready to call the shots.

More than a third (36%) say managers should give them projects they care about, flexibility (30%), recognise them when they do a good job (40%), and listen to ideas and show they value Gen Z’s opinion (48%).

“Gen Z value a flat structure,” Solomon added. “A third say they want to get to know and learn from senior leaders”.

Around half value a leader who cares about them (46%), trusts them (48%) and is supportive (45%).

Globally, these were the top three attributes Gen Z value in a manager. Despite being digital natives, three out of four Gen Zers (75%) globally prefer to receive manager feedback in person, and 39% prefer to communicate with their team or employer in person.

Gen Z also said they would never tolerate from their employer being forced to work when they don’t want to (34%); inability to use vacation days when they want to (38%); having no say in their work schedule (40%); errors on their pay (40%); an unsupportive manager (51%) or a dysfunctional team (44%).

Entitled or savvy?

While money is important to this generation, 54% said it’s not enough to motivate them to work harder or stay at a company longer. Similarly, few (16%) named employee perks as a motivator, but nearly half (45%) said the people they work with would.

In ANZ, more than half of the generation raised on digital devices, selfies and social media, say they like the idea of being their own boss and are least prepared for networking, but prefer (50%) a work environment where they can interact face to face with colleagues.

Not averse to hard work, almost two thirds (62%) said they would be willing to work longer hours very often or always to get ahead in their career.

“The findings make it easy to assume Gen Z has a high self opinion, but amidst a global climate of political, financial and environmental unrest, they are also searching for inspiration,” Solomon said.

Over a third (38%) say working for a company that does meaningful work is most important to them. Around a quarter also say companies who don’t give back to the community or lack diversity are red flags to them when applying for jobs.

Not so confident

Globally, the overall optimism of Gen Z is met with many emotional barriers this generation feels it must overcome to achieve workplace success, including anxiety (34%), lack of motivation/drive (20%), and low self-esteem (17%).

Anxiety, specifically, is a greater concern among female Gen Zs (39% vs 29% for male).

In Australia 37% said they view their anxiety as a barrier to their professional success and 34% say their lack of experience or professional connections is a career barrier.

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