Half of Generation Z UK workers say they don’t expect to be at the same organisation in the next 18 months.

Gen Z employees are those aged 18-24 and represent around one-fifth of the UK workforce.

They are a generation of workers who enter the workforce with employee expectations that are often significantly different to older colleagues.

This challenge of managing a multi-generational workforce is highlighted in the recent ELMO Employee Sentiment Index (ESI)*

The report provides a quarterly snapshot of employment attitudes based on surveys with more than 1,000 workers.

How did Gen Z workers differentiate from other generations?

Employees were asked if they anticipated leaving their current employer within the next 18 months. The survey responses saw Gen Z workers at the top of this list:

50% of Gen Z workers cited ‘economic pressures’ as the reason to search out new opportunities. For Gen X this was just over a third (35%) and for Baby Boomers just 9%. 

Another notable generational difference was employee priorities when searching for a job. The number one (53%) requirement for Gen Z workers was career opportunities.

For each of the older generations, the number one choice was the level of wages/remuneration.

Why are Gen Z workers most likely to leave?

Employment decisions are the result of a web of different push and pull factors but some of the most fundamental reasons include:

The desire for a flexible lifestyle

Younger workers are more likely to seek a flexible, adaptable work environment to fit with their active lifestyle. 

Gen Z employees are typically more mobile, less ‘settled down’ and without the same kinds of financial and family commitments as their older employees.

Changing attitudes

Gen Z workers may not have the same expectations or attitudes as those who have experienced a more traditional nine-to-five, office-based working environment. 

For example, a University graduate starting full-time employment during the COVID-19 pandemic will have most likely joined a workplace where hybrid or remote working is ‘the norm’.

The increased cost of living

With nearly half of those under 35 renting, it’s no surprise that Gen Z has been hit the hardest by the rise in living costs.

Correlating to this, ELMO highlighted how economic factors are driving the search for roles which offer increased pay and greater security.

How can HR teams help to retain Gen Z workers?

The challenges of managing multi-generational workforces have never been greater.

Approaches that may work for one age group may not necessarily work if applied to an older or younger generation of workers.

Strategies to retain Gen Z workers include:

Cater for flexible working with modern technology

The ESI survey found that 74% of Gen Z workers see technology as a benefit to their roles.

It’s a generation which has grown up in a connected world where they manage their lives through apps, social media, and remote technology.

This means organisations need to offer a working environment that reflects their experiences. Gen Z workers seek remote work, self-service systems and flexibility over where, when and how people get jobs done.

Promote development opportunities

‘Career opportunity’ was the number one priority for Gen Z job seekers. With increasing financial pressures, they want to be part of organisations where they can develop and grow.

Internal learning and development programmes can offer this and help employees to commit themselves to an employer for a stable, long-term relationship.

Recognition and rewards

The first experience of the working world is likely to be something of a culture shock for Gen Z workers. It can be an overwhelming experience that leaves them feeling insecure and lacking in confidence.

It makes it all the more important to provide recognition and support – to praise and encourage. Even the smallest gestures, an email or thumbs up emoticon, can go a long way to building bonds.

Work-life balance

Gen Z workers expect a much greater emphasis on work-life balance. They want opportunities in which work is balanced alongside social and recreational activities.

For HR managers, that means creating a culture that offers those kinds of opportunities with social events, clubs, communities and opportunities for people to connect.

Some organisations run internal social clubs and regular events to encourage workers to attend team outings. A few ideas include a cooking class, virtual escape room, or a board game tournament; all of which build on communication skills whilst still allowing people to have fun.

*The survey was conducted by Lonergan Research and commissioned by ELMO Software. More than 1,000 UK workers were surveyed between March 11-17th, 2022.