Google-style carrots won’t make Gen Z workers stick

Scott Shorr, vice president and director of permanent services at Robert Half, said Gen Z workers are willing to put in long hours and take on tough assignments to get ahead and learn more.
Scott Shorr, vice president and director of permanent services at Robert Half, said Gen Z workers are willing to put in long hours and take on tough assignments to get ahead and learn more.

by Kathy Canavan 

Generation Z is heading into the job market, and, in four short years, they’ll make up 20 percent of the workforce.

These new workers born in 1995 or later expect a realistic mean salary of $46,799 per year for their first year out of college and 77 percent of them expect they’ll work harder than previous generations, according to a new Robert Half survey.

Scott Shorr, director of permanent services at Robert Half, said the Gen Zers’ salary expectations are on target and they are willing to work hard for the right compensation. “Companies are going to have to have clear goals for these individuals, and they’re going to have to have some form of pay-for-accomplishment or bonus-for-accomplishment set up because they want to see the fruits of their labor quicker,” Shorr said. ‘They will work hard. They will do everything in their power to be successful, and they can do everything faster because of the technology in front of them.”

Gen Z isn’t looking for Googley free food or onsite gyms. Their top five job-search priorities are: growth opportunities, generous pay, making a positive impact, job security and health-care benefits.

Shorr said their view of the workplace was skewed when the economy went into a skid during their formative years. For them, salary size does matter.

If a company can’t offer a higher salary, they might offer some perk or extra vacation, he said. “They’ll want some sort of carrot  — if I do X, I can get Y,” Shorr said. “If I make X amount of money for the company, can I get rewarded for that?”

“They’ve seen what happened to their parents’ 401(k)s,” Shorr said. “The generation before them thought ‘I can be an entrepreneur and I can start anything.’ The percentage of them who were successful is small. This generation is thinking, ‘If I work my way up to a manager’s level, I can then parlay that into whatever I want it to be.’”

About 32 percent of Gen Z’ers say they’d like to be managing employees within five years of college graduation; only 20 percent said they’d like to become entrepreneurs. On average, they expect to work for four organizations during their careers.

Here’s a snapshot of Gen Z attitudes:

  • Their preferred work environment is collaborating with a small group in an office setting. Their least favorite is working offsite as part of a virtual team.
  • About 74 percent say they prefer face-to-face communication with colleagues — although face-to-face often means Facetime or Skype to these digital natives.
  • About 82 percent say their parents will help influence their career decisions.
  • About 30 percent would take a 10 percent to 20 percent pay cut to work for a company with a mission they deeply care about.
  • About 52 percent feel it will be easy to work with Generation X, but only 27 percent feel the same way about baby boomers.
  • Honesty and integrity are the qualities they most value in a manager.
  • Gen Z will be in the workplace nearly 50 years from now. About 54 percent say they expect to work until they’re 61 to 70 years old. 

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