Contrary to misinformed assumptions, Gen Z workers are not disengaging due to a lack of commitment or a sense of entitlement; rather, they are responding to the evolving dynamics of the modern workplace. This demographic is championing flexibility as a crucial element in fostering their wellbeing and combating workplace stress.
Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, sheds light on the symbiotic relationship between employee wellbeing and flexibility. She emphasises,
Enabling flexibility, managing stress, and creating trust are keys to unlocking the potential of Gen Z employees and reducing quiet quitting for all demographics.
Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium
This underscores the significance of flexibility as a driving force behind employee engagement and retention.
Unlike previous generations, Gen Z has grown up amidst a constant backdrop of turmoil, from geopolitical conflicts to climate change concerns. As a result, they have come to view flexibility not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Bruce notes,
Because they’ve grown up with one crisis after another, Gen Z has embraced flexibility and they have a hard time going back to a non-flexible routine.
This adaptability has become a defining characteristic of their work ethos.
However, the issue of workplace stress cannot be overlooked. Bruce emphasises that stress is a prevalent issue in the contemporary work environment, especially for younger employees like Gen Z. Having navigated through numerous societal challenges during their formative years, Gen Z has had limited opportunities to develop effective stress management skills. Bruce explains,
Gen Z has come of age through the war on terror, school gun violence, climate change and more. However, they haven’t had the opportunity to gain the skills to manage the accompanying stress.
This vulnerability highlights the need for organisations to step in and provide the necessary tools and support to cultivate stress resilience among their Gen Z workforce.
Trust, too, emerges as a critical component in fostering a positive work environment. Bruce highlights the significance of trust, stating that “Creating trust in the workplace should be a management priority.” An atmosphere of trust is pivotal in ensuring that employees, regardless of their generational background, feel comfortable expressing their concerns and opinions. For Gen Z, this is especially pertinent, as they seek a platform to voice their perspectives and seek reassurance that their input is valued. Bruce adds,
To engage and empower all generations in the workforce, leaders must create an environment in which workers feel safe speaking up, show that the organisation cares, and instil confidence that leadership will hear and address their concerns.
In recent times, organisations have been presented with opportunities to reflect on their practices in response to Gen Z’s needs. The evolving landscape of work, coupled with the demands of a new generation, has compelled businesses to rethink their approaches. Gen Z’s inclination toward flexibility and their distinct experiences have prompted leaders to reimagine traditional work structures. By incorporating flexibility into their core strategies, businesses not only stand to meet Gen Z’s needs but also bolster their own competitive edge in a rapidly changing world.
Gen Z’s call for flexibility is not a mere request for convenience but a testament to their resilience and adaptability. Organisations that acknowledge this paradigm shift and embrace flexibility as a cornerstone of their employee wellbeing initiatives will reap the benefits of a more engaged and productive workforce.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.