The Gen Z Workforce of 2023: Embracing Diversity, Tech-Savviness, and Purpose-Driven Careers

“Companies will be grateful if Gen Z wants to work for them…and that isn’t guaranteed.”

24-year-old friend and colleague, Kevin*

Hey, it’s Nate. Today, we’re talking Gen-Z. By 2030, 100% of Baby Boomers will fully pass retirement age with an exit from the workforce soon after.  Born between (approximately 1997 and early 2012), Gen Z is the first true digital-native generation to enter the job market.  Every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the retirement age of 65 and still make up 25%  of the workforce.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Generation Z  already makes up 13%* of the workforce. 

Their unique perspectives, aspirations, and tech-savviness are reshaping workplaces and challenging traditional work expectations.  How are they changing the workforce and the workplace?

Embracing Diversity and Inclusivity

Washington Post reporter Britt Peterson explores this question in a recent article, “What Gen Z Wants in a Workplace.”  Microsoft let go of 23-year-old, Ayobami Balogun, in company-wide layoffs last March.  Her first job out of college, this experience gave her time to reflect on what mattered to her in the workplace. 

Being laid off also gave her a chance to think about what she really wants in her career — the first time she has had time to do so. “I don’t want to be the only Black person or the only woman on my team,” she said, explaining that she is looking more intently at a company’s values, particularly when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, during her job search. “I feel like that’s scary.”

The Gen Z workforce of 2023 stands out for its strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Having grown up in a more interconnected and diverse world, Gen Z employees value and advocate for equal representation and opportunities for all. Workplaces prioritizing diversity and creating inclusive work environments are more likely to attract and retain Gen Z talent.

Self-Worth Born from Chaos

Gen Z display a remarkable understanding of their value and own self worth. 

This generation is raised on a steady stream of economic and political chaos.  “At Gen Z’s age, older people worked 40 hours a week and made enough money to buy a house and have barbecues on the weekend,” says Corey Seemiller, an educator, researcher, and TEDx speaker on Gen Z. “Gen Z works 50 hours a week at their jobs, and another 20 hours a week side hustling, yet still make barely enough to cover rent. They were raised around their parents’ conversations about not having enough money and the bad things that happened because of that – homes were re-possessed, and savings decimated,” says Seemiller.

Gen Z has been forced to be pragmatic, sometimes cynical, and hyper-aware.  They know what it costs to live, they know what their value is, and they know how to advocate for themselves.  Organizations must be prepared to meet this young workforce at the intersection of common sense and intention. 

Purpose-Driven Careers

Unlike previous generations, the Gen Z workforce of 2023 is more focused on purpose-driven careers rather than solely financial gains.  They are more likely to ask the question, “What is the point?  Why are we doing this?  Is this a money grab? I am I adding garbage to the world?”

Gen Z understands the transaction of their labor for wages.  They will walk away from a good-paying job that is soulless.  The old mantra from C-Suite founders and investors that “you should feel grateful to have this job” is dismissive and diminishes the value of labor in this transaction. 

Gen-Z workers seek job opportunities that align with their values and contribute to a larger social or environmental impact. Companies with strong corporate social responsibility initiatives are more likely to attract and retain Gen Z employees.

Nate’s Last Word

CEOs, founders, and investors must proactively develop programming for Gen Z and its needs.  Not platitudes.  Not Gen X Start-Up Culture.  Not Boomer Ol’ Boys Club Culture.  Not Millennial Culture.  Intention for their generation. 

Gen-Z is the future. They know themselves and have expectations of diversity, technology, purpose, and flexibility in their careers.  Their fresh perspective will reshape the workplace and how we engage in day-to-day work. 

Today’s leaders and organizations will win by building for this generation and its needs.

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