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Hybrid Work
Multigenerational workforce

Gen Z & work-life balance: essential tips to better understand this generation


February 14, 2023


June 16, 2023

Do you feel that your youngest employees are doing the bare minimum at work? That might be true. But, they might not be the only ones, and, it might be because their job doesn’t allow them to balance their personal and professional lives. This is called quiet quitting. Gen Z and work-life balance is a fundamental topic for companies and managers to focus on. Who is this new generation of workers? And, what do they expect from their employers?

Generation Z, also called Zoomers, iGen, or Gen Z, are those born between 1996 and 2012 and while they are just entering the workplace, they know what they want. Millennials have paved the way for more flexibility and better work-life balance, Gen Z has decided to make it the new norm. This article aims at helping you understand these early professionals better and how they see the role of work in their lives. Has this generation unlocked the door to better work-life balance? Only the future will tell. 

Key facts about Generation Z in the workplace

A unique start into the world of work

When you start your first job, you discover a whole new world. Your work environment becomes one of the places you spend the most time and your colleagues are often the people you see the most. At least that was the case for most employees before Gen Z. The oldest individuals from this generation started their professional lives during the COVID-19 crisis. This context forced them to start their career remotely which is an important fact to consider. Meeting teammates in person and experiencing the workplace atmosphere is essential when you have never worked before. But with the emergence of the pandemic, companies had to rapidly develop a new way of onboarding the youngest generation of workers.

The impact of growing up as a digital native

Gen Z workers are digital natives and have no problem using technology in their job, they even see tech as a must. Like everything, this characteristic has pros and cons. On one hand, the ‘TikTok generation’ feels at ease with learning new skills online, working digitally, and adopting new workplace technologies. On the other hand, having access to so much information has caused an increase in mental health issues such as anxiety, for example (stay with us, we’ll come back to this topic a bit below).

The main characteristics of Generation Z

Every generation of workers has its own attributes. An organization with a multigenerational workforce has a crucial advantage as every generation can learn from each other. However, understanding each demographic group’s characteristics is fundamental to helping them thrive individually and collectively. Here is what has been observed about Gen Z in the workplace so far:

  • they prefer in-person communication;
  • they see technology as a work ally;
  • they enjoy competition;
  • they favor transparency and authenticity;
  • they are pragmatic employees;
  • they highly value freedom and autonomy at work;
  • they care more about sustainability and diversity matters than other generations;
  • they are the generation with the poorest mental health.

💡To learn more in detail about this demographic group’s traits, look at our article regarding Gen Z’s characteristics.

The generation with the poorest mental health

While the benefits of employee well-being are proven, taking care of your workers’ mental health becomes a priority. Because the younger your workforce gets, the poorer their mental health is. According to McKinsey’s survey about the Behavioral-health challenges facing Gen Z, this generation is the most stressed one. 

In the U.S., 25% of iGen reported feeling more emotionally distressed than before the pandemic compared to 13% for Millennials and Gen X, and 8% for Baby Boomers. In Europe, one in five Gen Z’s feels this way. But COVID-19 is not the only cause. The inability to meet social needs, climate change issues, and DEI matters also foster anxiety for these early professionals. 

Two young people looking at smart phone.
Two young people looking at smart phone.

Gen Z’s vision of work-life balance

Generation Z’s vision of work-life balance

All workers wish for the same things: better work-life balance and more flexibility. But, the younger the workforce gets, the bolder their requests are. Baby Boomers wouldn’t think about taking a day off for mental health, Millennials feel the need to ask for it, yet,would they really do it? Gen Z employees just do. 

This generation is very attached to their personal lives and aspires to have a career that allows them to continue enjoying life. This aspect was also crucial for Millennials when they entered the workplace, but they valued job security much more because of the Great Recession. However, they have paved the way for Gen Z to make the Great Reshuffle happen.

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The impact of strong corporate values, purpose, and flexibility 

Has Gen Z finally found the key to unlock the door for better work-life balance? Millennials have started to highlight that work should not only be seen as a financial resource but can also enhance happiness and life satisfaction. The following generation of workers shares similar ideas. 

They believe that work can, on top of being a financial resource, bring a sense of purpose and align with personal values. For the TikTok generation, working for a company with the same values, doing a meaningful job, and working flexibly is the winning combo for better work-life balance.

Gen Z’s way of finding work-life balance 

Corporate values, purpose, and work flexibility are the most significant factors for Gen Z to find work-life balance, but what happens when they don’t find a company that meets their expectations? Generation Z employees opt for two main paths when they are not in a professional environment that fosters work-life balance. 

Either they quit or they “quiet quit”. The first alternative is the classic end result when an employee is unsatisfied with their job, they hand in their resignation letter. The second option describes the concept of doing the bare minimum at work and the term got popular with a famous video on TikTok. Although not doing more than what is required is not something completely new, it seems to have become a trend for Gen Z to avoid being overwhelmed by work.

➡️ How do you manage your workspace with a flexible workforce? Check out our hybrid office calculator to discover how to optimize space and save costs!

Young female employee giving presentation at work
Gen Z employee giving presentation at work

Useful tips to improve the youngest generation’s work-life balance

Build a trustworthy relationship and foster transparent communication

This is a valid point for any generation in the workplace. Your team members need to know that they can count on you and feel comfortable speaking honestly with you. Building a trustworthy relationship helps you support your employees if you detect any signs of unbalanced and unhealthy professional practices. It will also enable you to understand where to improve to meet their expectations to keep them at the company and continue to thrive. Keep in mind, Generation Z workers favor transparency and authenticity. So, when you fulfill this need, you increase the chances for their levels of satisfaction, engagement, and consequently, productivity to rise. 

Focus on employee well-being initiatives 

Employee well-being initiatives play a major role in improving the work-life balance of your workforce, especially Gen Z as they are the most anxious generation. These actions can have a direct or indirect impact on the equilibrium of their personal and professional lives. For instance, having access to a gym with a partnership discount can not only help boost their physical health but can also be good for their social lives and therefore, their mental health. Another example is the implementation of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives. Being part of a company that acts to create a more diverse, fair, and inclusive world enables Gen Z to align their work and personal values.

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Allow flexible work arrangements such as hybrid work

You probably get it by now, according to Gen Z, one of the main answers for a better work-life balance is work flexibility.  Other generations of workers are also looking for more flexible work arrangements. As highlighted in our article about remote work statistics, hybrid work is the best solution to bring more adaptability into the work environment. But organizations are also trying different working options such as compressed hours and flexitime. Discuss with your workforce to find out what they need and which flexible work model matches your company’s and employees’ best.

Although some studies already exist, we are still learning about this generation as they just entered the workplace. Therefore, keep in mind that the information in this article is not bold statements but rather trends that seem to shape this generation. Each employee is unique but in the end, the TikTok generation has a lot in common with other demographic groups. 

They all desire a job that matches their values, provides them with better work-life balance, and offers more flexibility. The main difference between Gen Z’s vision of work-life balance and others is that they not only wish for it, but they also do what it takes to make it happen. Will it work? Only the future will tell. 

But for now, we want to help you meet the expectations of all your workers by supporting you in your transition to a more flexible work environment. Request a free demo of the deskbird app and find out more about workspace booking and hybrid schedules!

Gen Z & work-life balance: essential tips to better understand this generation

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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