Asking what Gen Z want is not the right question. Should we even be asking?

Given that the workforce is ageing and we are all set to work way beyond traditional retirement, do we need to move away from pitting Gen Zs against the ‘Okay Boomers’?

With 5 generations in the workplace isn’t it time to forget our differences and think about the universal factors that connect all workers?

Sure, we have different motivations and aspirations at different stages of life, but for the vast majority of us the feelings that drive job satisfaction are common. We may prioritise them slightly differently but they all lead to an engaging and enriching work life:

  1. 1.Pay vs Prospects. There are various stories telling us Gen Zs do not place pay at the highest importance in job satisfaction. The economic reasons are clear – when starting out you are less likely to have a mortgage and children. Also you’ll be looking at a long career ahead of you. Of course you’ll accept prospects over pay – it’s a no-brainer. You’re looking at the long game not the quick win. But let’s not forget, Gen Xs still have a long way to go before throwing in the towel. They may have amassed expertise that rewards with higher salaries, but they will also have to think strategically about where they want to be over the next 15 to 30 years. Career opportunities are still a big part of that.
  2. Flexibility. From the Gen Xer with dependants, to the Boomer winding down before retirement, to the Millennial who wants to volunteer – and for any of us who want to achieve a better work life balance, flexible or agile working is key. Control over your own working week is nothing to be sniffed at whatever your career stage.
  3. Purpose and meaning. Who wants to work for an organisation that doesn’t think about why they are doing it? Firstly, it doesn’t make business sense. Secondly global interconnectivity has forced us to see ourselves as part of a bigger picture. With the accessibility of information greater than ever, our impact on the environment and communities has become important to Boomers and Gen Zs alike.

We can get stuck on our differences and the challenges facing multigenerational workforces or we can focus on what ticks the box for everybody and think about how we build workplaces with vision, opportunity, rewards and cultures that give no-brainer choices to all of us.

The Aspiring team are experts in creating engaging cultures and learning environments. If you’d like to discuss any of these topics in more detail, we’d be delighted: 

Sonia Baker, Aspiring HR