Banner for Understanding Generation Z

Just a couple years ago, the workplace saw a massive surge in the number of Millennial employees joining the workforce—individuals born between ~1981 to 1996.
Now, a new generation of job seekers has emerged—Generation Z—born between 1997 to 2012. The older members of this young cohort are in the midst of wrapping up post-secondary education, filling internships and taking those first steps of entering the job market.
Lest one think they need not have to deal with these whippersnappers, consider that together, Millennials and Gen Z currently make up nearly half of the full-time workforce in North America.
To develop the next generation of organizational leaders, every employer should be asking: What do our younger workers want from the workplace?
To even begin to answer that, consider that Gen Z will bring with them completely new perspectives and new expectations to the working world. Companies that are flexible and open to doing things differently in a way that resonates with this group will remain at the top of the list as this generation hits the job market.
A recent study surveyed over 200 U.S. Gen Zs (Zed-ers/Zee-ers) to reveal: what they expect from employers; their attitudes toward work, and more.
As an ag-retail employer, it is important to learn and understand the following expectations to harness the best out of this generation and achieve goals together.


Flexible Schedules and Remote Work

Job perks valued most by Gen Z when looking for a job:

  • Flexible schedule 59%
  • Remote work 53%
  • Competitive salary 50%
  • Robust healthcare plan 37%
  • Retirement plan 29%

It is no surprise that flexible schedule and remote work topped the list of perks Gen Z look for in prospective companies. After all, the youngest cohort recently attended (and is attending) school semesters virtually and has never had the experience of working in a real office.
As such, it is only natural for them to prefer companies that stepped away from the traditional 40-hour, 9 to 5 culture, and provide space to pursue personal and professional fulfillment on their own terms.
Enabling employees to work from other offices, or remotely from a location they have aspired to live or providing the flexibility to pursue a graduate degree part-time, gives Gen Z the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally.
We know that within the agri-retail business—working from home isn’t going to cut the muster. For those new hires expected to do the so-called grunt work—more manual labour-based—they need to be working on the premises.
Like it or not, many in the farming community are not as concerned about vaccinations, and prefer that business be done in person. Your company may offer its sales reps to concentrate on telephone servicing of customers, or you may insist on dealing in person with you visiting them, or they visiting your retail shop. It is what it is.
For those Gen Z workers looking for employment in an office environment, yes, working from home may be allowed—again that is up to you, the agri-retailer; or it may still not be a logistically possible scenario.
In such instances, it is up to you to be aware of the new hire’s concerns (as noted above), but to be able to convey to them why you need them in-shop/premises.


Scope of Learning and Development

Gen Zs are considered to be an always curious lot, constantly searching for challenges with a strong willingness to try new things. These employees are always looking out for opportunities to learn and grow. And, as an employer, you must learn how to facilitate various learning materials to support Gen Zs motivation to gain knowledge while working for your organization.

Development opportunities Gen Zs value in employers:

  • Ability to work with coaches and mentors: 71%
  • Access to online courses: 62%
  • Collaboration with top performers on key projects: 62%
  • Formal in-class training: 31%

They want to learn, and they want someone to teach them. Within the agri-retail industry, maybe it’s good that remote work isn’t all that prevalent.


Value-based Careers

This is a generation that has no hesitation in confronting an issue, raising their voice, and calling for change. As consumers, Gen Z support brands that align with their values and rely on those values when making their career choices.
Gen Z want to feel like their work and contribution is making a positive societal or environmental impact. A full 43% of Gen Z employees state that their long-term career goal is to make the world a better place.
This goes to prove that Gen Z does not want to work for yet another money-making powerhouse. Instead, they prefer the empathetic workplace that caters to the needs of people and the world in general.
Employers can empower these workers, leveraging their passion and determination to create a better future through activities and policies such as establishing employee support groups (ESGs), supporting community activities, and offering volunteer time off (VTO).
And should you think that’s a lot of stuff to consider, note that Generation Z place a great emphasis on purpose-driven work, and that this group of young workers will stay loyal to organizations that offer a good balance between work and personal life and enjoy growth.
Gen Z favours employers with a strong set of values and a purpose for being beyond merely making a profit. Sounds like a great fit for the Canadian agri-retail industry.


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