What employers need to know about Gen Z in 2023

Feb 27, 2023 | Attraction & marketing, Research

Following a spell of increased confidence, once again wider economic and political events are influencing the behaviour of young job hunters, explains Jackie Grisdale from SMRS.

SMRS wanted to understand what’s important to school and university students right now and how this is influencing what they look for and the decisions they are making when it comes to their careers. You can read earlier SMRS findings on attracting and engaging apprentices.

Here’s some of what our latest research told us and what employers need to know about Gen Z in 2023.

The future is theirs, but Gen Z still feels anxious and nervous about it

When looking at the results of our previous research in 2020, as the world recovers from Covid-19, anxiety and nervousness has reduced. However, so has confidence.

Similarly, to previous research, females are over indexing on feelings of anxiety and nervousness (41% vs 27%) with males over indexing in feelings of confidence compared to females (32% vs 20%).

Gen Z has a lot on their minds

Just under half of Gen Z is concerned about mental health. This is the top concern overall (47%) and once again it’s more of a concern for females than males (50% vs 36%).​

Concern about the economy and financial capability has unsurprisingly more than doubled in 16–21 year olds from 15% in 2021, to 39% in 2022. ​​And the older the Gen Z, the higher the concern, rising to 55% of those Gen Zs over 22 years old.

Work life balance means flexibility, not just hybrid

Work life balance is a top consideration for choice of employer. It is an attractive benefit and the lack of it is a reason to reject an employer.

Our research showed Gen Z prefers a mix of home and office environments (35%), with few wanting only home (6%) or only office (10%).​

For Gen Z, the main reason for wanting to work from home was centred around saving money (38%) and being happier (37%).​ ​However, 40% expect that employers offer flexible working hours – the 4th top basic expectation of an employer amongst Gen Z.

The changing shape of loyalty

Our research has shown an increasing trend towards early career mobility, with 44% of respondents expecting to move between multiple employers in the next five years.

We saw much lower levels of loyalty compared to their Millennial and Gen X counterparts – 39% and 25% expect to move between employers multiple times respectively amongst these audiences.

Fluctuating loyalty begins early

It is no surprise to many of us that many Gen Zs are holding multiple offers. In fact, 48% of Gen Z accept multiple job offers with a view to deciding later which role they are going to take. A further 31% admit accepting the job offer without being sure if they even want it.

And they aren’t worried about rejecting you too. Of the 54% of Gen Z that had been offered a job in the last six months, 66% had rejected offers. There are many reasons for rejecting, but a poor salary and a lack of flexibility are the top two.

They expect a little respect

We asked our respondents what they perceive as basic expectations of employers and amongst their fellow employees. Gen Z expected both colleagues and employers to give them respect, with 61% of Gen Z expecting employers to be respectful above all else.

Females have higher expectations, over indexing especially in factors such as respect, working hard, and doing the right thing. ​

Once again there are shifting priorities

Salary, work-life balance, and job security are key to attracting Gen Z. While salary is important to all demographics, Gen Z is increasingly likely to be driven by salary and wealth, compared to Millennials and Gen X who are more concerned with wider financial security.

High salary is a top consideration when choosing an employer, where ‘fair salary’ is the most common expectation of employers. Poor salary is the top reason to reject an offer.

And, finally, what will stop them from applying?

According to our survey, the biggest blockers to applications are low salary, uninteresting work, lack of job security, negative reviews, and a lack of flexible working. 

And some food for thought – females are more likely than males to be put off by perceived poor diversity, low salaries, lack of job security, poor flexibility, negative feedback, and uninteresting work.

Shaping a proposition to attract young talent

The world continues to be a volatile place – the turbulent nature of the last three years has seen priorities change for much of the workforce, especially early careers talent about to enter it.

Employers need to ensure they have a youth brand and value proposition that effectively connects with Gen Z, one that accounts for what’s important to them right now and in the long term.

We must continue to support and nurture talent through our recruitment processes, recognising the challenging context they have been experiencing throughout the latter years of their education. And above all else, we must build mutual respect through our candidate journey to keep them loyal.

You may also be interested in

What students want from campus recruitment

Rising cost of living is influencing how young people think about their careers

How to guide and reassure Gen Z in the age of uncertainty














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