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What Gen Z wants on the job

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Members of Gen Z view themselves as the hardest-working and most slighted entry-level labor pool in history, even compared with the generation that came of age during World War II, a new study finds.

The report, “Meet Gen Z,” also quantifies the sense of entitlement that foodservice employers often cite as emblematic of the age bracket from 16 to 25: About a third (35%) of respondents say they would not tolerate an employer who scheduled them for shifts or hours they didn’t want, and nearly as many (30%) say a directive to work back-to-back shifts is a deal-breaker. 

Up to the task?

Gen Zers also profess that elders did a lousy job of preparing them for work. Far less than half (39%) say high school provided them with the educational underpinnings to enter the job market. About 1 in 5 (21%) say those shortcomings leave them unprepared to be managed by someone, though they had pronounced feelings about what makes a good boss. The three most important attributes, in their estimation, are: “they trust me” (47%); “they support me” (40%) and “they care about me” (35%).  

About a third (32%) said they would stay longer and work harder at a job where the manager embodied those and other supportive traits. Nearly the same proportion (31%) expressed a desire for flexible hours. 

Who’s had it hardest?

Respondents rated the so-called Silent Generation—seniors aged 75 to 94, which includes the tail end of what’s sometimes termed the Greatest Generation—as the least hardworking age cohort in history. They also expressed a belief that the Silent Generation had a tough time entering the job market, despite what history books say was a pressing need for labor during the war.

Similarly, 36% of the youngsters participating in the survey say they had to push through more disadvantages when entering the workforce than any cohort since the Silent Generation, an assertion seemingly undermined by the “help wanted” signs posted in restaurant windows.

The findings also skewered a few preconceptions about Gen Z. For instance, even though members of that age bracket have never known life without computers, 75% want feedback from managers to be delivered face to face, and 39% prefer to communicate with colleagues in person. 

The “Meet Gen Z” report, based on a survey of 3,400 Gen Zers in 12 nations, was commissioned by The Workforce Institute, the research and insights arm of Kronos, a labor technology supplier. 

 

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