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Study Finds Gen Z Workers Expect Fair Pay, Diversity and More

Updated Feb 21, 2023

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  • Generation Z comprises people born between 1997 and 2002. Some of these people are already in the workforce, while others may enter it as late as 2025.
  • Studies show that Gen Z employees want jobs that pay them fairly, provide space for mental health, and prioritize a caring onboarding process. 
  • To cater to Gen Z workplace demands, you should consider launching a diversity training program, sending welcome packages to new employees, and offering employee health and wellness programs.
  • This article is for business owners, managers, and recruiters interested in attracting and accommodating Gen Z employees and job seekers.

As Generation Z continues to enter the workforce, you might wonder what makes this latest influx of workers different. According to the Pew Research Center, Generation Z comprises people born between 1997 and 2002, so they grew up with the internet and strong social values that inform their workplace demands. 

To better understand the group, the Great Place to Work Institute polled 32,000 Gen Zers from more than 350 businesses. Let’s explore some of the survey’s key findings on what Gen Zers want from their employers.

What Gen Z seeks in the workplace

The Great Place to Work study found five key elements that Gen Zers want from their employers.

Fair pay

According to the study, Gen Z workers expect better pay. Of the 32,000 respondents, 69% felt they received fair wages. Although this is a majority of the Gen Z respondents, it’s seven points lower than other generations’ pay satisfaction.

Great Place to Work notes that this demand could stem from COVID-era wage losses. The study cites an ADP statistic saying that Gen Z lost 11% of its jobs to the pandemic. This figure is 4.3% greater than the national average and the corresponding numbers for other generations.

Did You Know?Did you know

Workers with a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of work experience typically make $47,000 per year, according to a survey by Clever Real Estate. For employees working 40 hours per week, that’s $22.60 per hour, well above the federal minimum wage.

Diverse teams

Gen Z is at least 8% more racially diverse than any prior generation. According to the survey, 47% of Gen Zers identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), which is nearly twice the 25% rate for baby boomers. The researchers noted that this generational diversity might stem from a peak in immigration around 2005. 

Gen Z is diverse in more ways than race – it’s also the generation with the most LGBTQ people. A February 2021 Gallup survey found that 15.9% of Gen Zers identify as LGBTQ. [Related article: How to Support an LGBTQ Employee Coming Out in the Workplace]

Unsurprisingly, Great Place to Work found that Gen Z demands diverse workplaces as a result.


To create a culture of inclusion in the workplace, design a diversity and inclusion training program to address potential biases and prejudice within your organization.

Meaningful work

Millennials might have largely brought the concept of “meaningful work” into the conversation, but Gen Zers seem even less satisfied with the meaning of their work. In the Great Place to Work survey, Gen Z employees said their work had “special meaning” 8% less than other generations did. Similarly, Gen Zers said they felt like they were making a difference at work 7% less than other generations did. [Related article: The New Role of Millennial Leaders]

A focus on mental health 

According to the study, Gen Zers are 7% less likely than other generations to describe their work environments as psychologically or emotionally healthy. They were also 7% less likely to say that they could take enough time off from work. As Great Place to Work notes, the American Psychological Association has found Gen Z to be the most stressed generation. The APA believes this trend correlates with the many sociopolitical crises the generation may face.

A more intentional onboarding process

Remote work rates hovered around 45% in the latter half of 2021. That means Gen Zers may enter the workforce without ever entering an office and making friends with co-workers in person. Great Place to Work notes that, based on its findings, Gen Zers need a “warm and thoughtful welcome” when they start new jobs. The researchers concluded that such actions are key to keeping Gen Z employees – and new hires of any age – engaged and motivated. [Follow this employee hiring checklist for a successful onboarding process.]


To keep remote workers engaged, host virtual meetings and casual hangouts, foster personal connections, and make sure your employees feel heard and valued.

How to cater to Gen Z’s workplace needs

Alongside its findings, the Great Place to Work survey offers some actionable tips.

  • Prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). If you’ve paid any attention to business news in recent years, you’ve seen DEI initiatives becoming increasingly common. You can encourage DEI without hiring staff to work exclusively on these initiatives. Instead, try incorporating diversity training and inclusive communication into your operations.
  • Pay well above the minimum wage. Gen Z is one of the main groups leading the call for higher minimum wages, so low pay won’t do. You need to offer salaries that show Gen Z employees you’re truly investing in them. You don’t need to break the bank on payroll, but you should pay them salaries you might associate with employees a few years older. [Learn how to determine salaries for your employees.]
  • Offer employee wellness and health programs. Though often associated with diets and gym membership, employee wellness and health programs can address mental health concerns for Gen Z employees. So can mental health days, regular employee one-on-ones or check-ins, and other ways to gauge your employees’ mental health. You should also encourage your employees to take the necessary steps to lower their workplace stress levels.
  • Seek employee feedback. With employee feedback, you can adjust your operations to meet Gen Z standards. If you consistently hear from employees that they’re overworked, hire more staff to handle the excess tasks. If you find that summer Fridays would help boost morale in the warmer months, implement those. You can’t know if you don’t ask, so encourage your employees to give you feedback.
  • Make the right first impression. A “swag bag” can make a great first impression on new employees. Include merchandise branded with your logo alongside essential work materials like a copy of your employee handbook. Personalized welcome notes from the whole team can be the cherry on top. When your employees know you have their back, they’re more likely to have yours. 
Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Managing Gen Z in the workplace means embracing a company culture where everyone’s contributions and voices are valued. You can show appreciation for your employees by prioritizing diversity and inclusion, fair pay, mental health, employee feedback, and a welcoming onboarding process.

Regardless of age, these tips are good advice in general for keeping your employees happy. There may be some generational differences in priorities, but your whole team will appreciate your efforts to show you value them. 

Max Freedman
Contributing Writer at
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.
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