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Gen Z: Blurring the lines between work and play

  • 65% of Generation Zs think a fun environment is essential for a good company culture vs only 22% of Baby Boomers
  • New survey from workplace consultants Peldon Rose reveals the expectations Gen Z has of the workplace and the key changes required to attract and retain top young talent

As hiring season picks up a pace after the summer slow-down and recruiters resume their search for the perfect candidates, a nationwide study from leading workplace consultants, Peldon Rose, reveals that the expectations of Generation Z (aged 18-24) are blurring the lines between work and play more than ever before with 65% stating a fun environment is essential for a good company culture compared with only 22% of Baby Boomers (aged 55+) and half of employees (50%) nationally.

Generation Z are social creatures, they want to work in an office environment – only 8% think they work best from home vs 20% nationally – and 81% think social and communal areas are important workplace facilities compared with only 64% of all employees and 58% of Baby Boomers. Gen Z candidates are also twice as likely (43%) as Baby Boomers (22%) to think friendships with colleagues are important in a job.

While Gen Z are just as likely to describe themselves as ‘quiet and head-down’ (46%) as they are ‘outgoing and sociable’ (46%) the majority expect to be able to listen to music (60%) in the office compared with 24% of Baby Boomers and 38% of employees nationally, blurring the lines between work and play.

Generation Z comprises roughly 32% of the population and is due to surpass Millennials (25-34 year olds) as the largest generation by 2020. With Gen Z candidates entering the workforce in increasing numbers, businesses are compelled to understand what it takes to attract and retain the country’s brightest youngest talent who are demanding more from their workplace environment.

Survey Highlights: 

  • Office orientated:Generation Z place the most importance in the office environment; 81% say a well-designed office is important to them versus 76% of all employees nationally. They are also most likely to expect a say in the way the workplace is designed (68%) compared with all other employees (54%)
  • Choice matters: Generation Z want to work in a more dynamic and varied workspace. They want to be able to choose where they work in the office, such as break out areas or quiet spaces. The majority of Gen Z employees (57%) think they will work best in a smart working office compared with only a quarter of all employees (26%)
  • Mental Health and Wellbeing: Generation Z placed the greatest importance on their employer championing causes such as mental health and wellbeing (76%), diversity (38%) and supporting future generations (49%) – nationally the findings are 72%, 31% and 33% respectively
  • Intergenerational experience: Gen Z’s acknowledge the benefits of the experience of older colleagues with 70% saying it is important to them to work with colleagues of different ages and differing levels of experience – compared with 57 % of all employees

There are many ways that employers can help create a welcoming working environment for Generation Z employees in order to recruit and retain the best talent but no generation in the workforce should be forgotten. Assessing and updating the office environment is an important first initiative for businesses that want to maintain a healthy, productive workforce.

Based on Peldon Rose’s expertise as workplace consultants and feedback from the survey, the company has created four key initiatives for businesses.

Social and communal areas

Nearly all employees (95%) say that a good company culture is important to them, and creating spaces where staff can get together can help foster this.  All generations highly value social spaces at work (64%) particularly Generation Z (81%) who believe social and communal spaces are important workplace facilities. Create workplaces that bring people together and encourage workplace friendships to generate a positive company culture, boost staff loyalty and improve employee wellbeing.

Quiet settings

To ensure everyone’s needs are supported in the office and to support mental health, businesses should create a range of spaces which staff can enjoy according to their personality type, mood and work.  Nearly half (46%) of all employees say that a quiet room is important to them at work.

Consult staff

Over half (54%) of employees expect to have a say in the way the workplace is designed so businesses should  ask the views of all staff if planning an office move or refurbishment.  This will ensure that employees feel that they have had an input in key decisions and a contribution towards creating a happy and productive workplace. They will also adapt better to the new space, helping with staff retention and productivity.

Leverage experience

Four generations now work alongside each other in the office so it is important that businesses cater for every demographic.  Create a workplace that responds to all generations, taking into account their individual needs.  A truly multi-generational office will enable the different generations to work in the way they want to as well as interact effectively and learn from each other. Create lots of opportunities for people to come together or bump in to each other and have conversations.

 Jitesh Patel, Chief Executive at Peldon Rose, leading workplace office design specialists commented:  

“As Generation Z enters the workforce, it is clear that for this demographic the line between work and play is narrowing.  As the generation least likely to own their own homes, they are also seeking home comforts in the office environment.  They are looking for a well-designed office that is fun, social and helps support their mental health and wellbeing.

“This new research reveals that choice is at the heart of Generation Z’s values. They want the power to make decisions and value mental health, wellbeing and diversity.

“But no generation should be forgotten. As Gen Z enter the workplace, offices must adapt to their working styles, but not at the expense of other generations. Business leaders must not prioritise any generation’s needs above another. Those businesses that can cater to the needs of each generation will be most successive in boosting productivity and recruiting and retaining the best and brightest from each cohort.”