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Gen Z Employees Seek Flexibility at Work

As organizations prepare for Gen Z to surpass baby boomers in the workforce, HR leaders will need to better understand engagement, belonging, career drive, and productivity across the entire workforce, particularly among its youngest employees. Jabra’s Mind the Gap report sheds light on the root causes of disengagement at work and why flexibility is the newest generation’s top priority.  

The research finds that 79% of employees say they currently work in a job where they have total autonomy to choose their work location, and seven in 10 are happy with the flexibility they have in their current roles. At the same time, the research indicates that a significantly increasing number of people are going back to the office.  

Inefficient meetings are among the leading barriers to productivity in the workplace. While some employees have been challenged in online meeting environments, making sure everyone is participating equally is vital. At the same time, poor meeting agendas and people speaking over one another can easily be remedied with guidance and training.  

The research finds that quality of internet connection (48%), quality of audio (32%), and quality of video (28%) are rated significantly higher as the leading barriers to productivity in meetings. Despite the increasing number of people returning to the office at least once per week, most meetings still take place online. Less than one in three knowledge workers are using headsets with a boom-arm and only 19% are using a webcam. Organizations can tackle big pain points of modern-day meetings with professional technology, providing employees with the right audio and video solutions to meet.  

As mental well-being awareness has increased in the workplace, organizations and leaders are doing more to address mental health. However, it’s difficult to address a problem when organizational leaders are unaware it exists. While more than seven in 10 Gen Z employees report feeling generally satisfied in their current jobs, 52% report feeling stressed and burned out. At the same time, almost half of all Gen Z employees surveyed are expecting to change jobs within the next year.  

Burnout is a major area of focus for any organization wanting to protect its most valuable resource, its people. As much as Gen Z reports that changing jobs is a career development driver, companies need to consider retention and well-being strategies across their workforce. Top-down, hierarchical leadership, with rules around when and where people work, will easily lead to further disengagement. In a world where job possibilities are endless, Gen Z is ready to leave if their needs aren’t met—and approximately 42% of Gen Z say having their own business is the most desirable career path.  

As pay transparency grows, hierarchies flatten, and work-life balance is reframed, people’s career aspirations might shift. Regardless of what type of career individuals might want, 82% say that career achievements are important to their personal sense of identity and success. While the youngest generation is no less career focused than those before them, they want to do so with greater work-life balance. Gen Z is often considered a work-life balance focused generation, but Jabra’s data shows that 43% say work and career still play a bigger role than their personal life. When asked about what measures constitute success in their careers, almost one in three say work-life balance is an important measure.  

Gen Z would rather than empathetic managers than experienced ones and consider honesty and integrity five times more important than experience in a field of work. Less than one in 10 Gen Z employees consider experience and knowledge an important quality and even less find experience within the company important.  

With a hybrid workforce, day-to-day connection and long-term belonging is driven by people. As a result, managers need to re-engage their teams. One meaningful conversation each week with someone’s manager can make all the difference between their connection and belonging or disengagement with work.  

The oldest segment of Gen Z has only just stepped into the workforce, but their entry marks a paradigm shift for organizations and managers. While employees used to settle with the boundaries and hierarchies of the workplace, hybrid work and Gen Z have accelerated a shift in understanding of what work and the workplace is. Today’s world is a creator economy, and if organizations can’t create a place that is desirable to work in, Gen Z will simply pursue alternative avenues.  

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