OW - Gen Z

A-Gen-Z Series

Working To Live

Brimming with confidence and seeking personal fulfillment, transparency, and an array of options, Generation Z is redefining the employer-employee relationship

A painterly illustration of abstract office space. An empty corner cubicle sits with items and posters on the dividers. The wall is covered in wallpaper that depicts a fantastic scene. In the scene, a figure meditates in a forest with castles in the background. The wallpaper feels like a fantasy world. A fluorescent office light shines from the ceiling.

of Gen Zers are actively or passively seeking new jobs


who say they are loyal to their employer are actively or passively seeking new jobs


have side hustles


see lack of transparency as the biggest frustration during recruiting


prefer hybrid or remote work


agree with the statement, “a job does not need to be fulfilling — it should enable me to find balance and fulfilment in other aspects of my life”

Key takeaways

Moonlighting for money…and passion. Almost half of Gen Zers have side hustles. While primarily motivated by the prospect of earning extra money, many of them partake because they are passionate about their side jobs.

The actual meaning of fulfillment. For Gen Z, fulfillment means feeling personally well, and is less often tied to the work itself. Gen Zers are far more wellness-centric than their predecessors and more focused on securing a better quality of life and work than they are on rapid success or advancement.

Flipping the script — empowering women at work. Gen Z women are taking a stand against inequality by demanding more from their employers than ever before — in the form of better compensation, more advancement opportunities, and better work-life balance.

Loyalty doesn’t mean what you think. Even the most loyal employees are looking for other opportunities. Employers will need to do more than ever to retain top talent, which extends beyond increasing the absolute dollar value of their pay; they will need to provide more flexibility, advancement and growth opportunities, and personal fulfillment initiatives.

No more hide and seek. Gen Zers want to be in the know and are demanding that employers be more transparent — both during the recruiting process about pay, benefits, role details, and hiring timelines, and while employed, particularly around compensation, reviews, and advancement opportunities.

Flexibility reigns supreme. Gen Zers prioritize flexibility wherever they go — and aren’t afraid to leave employers that don’t provide it.

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“If you want to keep, attract, retain Gen Z, you have to take creative approaches to work/life balance, to salaries, to ownership. So they really feel like part of the company, and engage with the company culture.”

Keeping up with Gen Z

Harnessing Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit can make for a winning labor model. Gen Z’s entrepreneurial spirit is driving the growth of remote work and gig economy jobs. If employers want to attract and retain top talent, they need to accommodate this generation’s desire for portfolio careers. Incorporating structured, incentivized “side of desk” projects or programs into their value proposition can keep Gen Z workers engaged.

Finding fulfillment is more than just doing meaningful work — it means employers need to put the health and wellness of their employees first. Gen Zers are acutely aware of how their circumstances affect their health and wellbeing and are more willing than older generations to see this connection or quit in response. Offering more paid time off, wellness rooms, and mental health support can help retain top talent and show Gen Zers that their bosses care about their wellbeing.

Empowering women extends beyond closing the pay gap. Gen Z women value more than just equal pay; they want more advancement opportunities, respect and recognition, and personal fulfillment. Employers must ensure that women are seen, heard, and valued to retain this talent.

Transparency is a table stake. Gen Zers are mega-skeptics. Providing transparency in review processes, pay, role details, hiring timelines, and advancement opportunities builds trust and combats the “grass is greener” mentality that motivates workers to seek other employment.

Optionality is not optional. Generation Z values hybrid and remote solutions and will leave if these aren’t offered. Many employees feel more connected to their teams and organizations when not in the office. Employers can drive further connection by offering remote team-building experiences to cater to those who prefer to stay at home.

“It’s networking, I’m always learning things with every little side gig. You never know what’s out there until you go find out. I find it out with hustles.”

—22, general contractor who sells jewelry, he/him, New York

A-Gen-Z Case Study

More paid time off could lead to more productivity

More paid time off could lead to more productivity and happier, healthier employees. Encouraging employees to take paid time off can increase their chances of getting a raise or bonus — and boost productivity.

Even before COVID-19, research linked paid time off with career success. One study in Harvard Business Review showed that people who took fewer than 10 days of vacation per year had a 35% likelihood of receiving a raise or bonus in a three-year period. But people who took more than 10 of their vacation days had a 65% chance of receiving a raise or bonus.

Non-profit 4 Day Week Global spearheaded a six-month UK trial of the four-day week, with 70 companies and 3,300 employees that ended on Dec. 6, 2022. Companies in the trial reported higher revenue, reduced absenteeism, increased hiring, and a slight decline in resignations. Employees reported less stress, fatigue, and burnout, with increasing satisfaction with their lives, work performance, and jobs. Almost all companies included are already committing or planning to continue with the four-day-week schedule. 4 Day Week Global noted that 70% of respondents said their next job would need to offer them 10% to 50% more pay to persuade them to return to a five-day schedule. Parallel pilots in United States and Ireland comprising 33 companies are also showing promise.

Gen Zers prize their free time even more than other generations. So encouraging all employees — and Gen Zers in particular — to take time off could do wonders for their outlooks and sense of satisfaction.

In addition to powering their performance, time away can actually make employees more productive. The European Union’s Working Time Directive guarantees at least 20 paid vacation days per year. It’s no coincidence that nine of the top 10 most productive countries in the OECD in 2015, measured in GDP per hour worked, were in Europe.