How to motivate Gen-Z employees without breaking the bank

Insight shared by:


Article by

In generations gone by, a job was often a ‘job for life’. However, this is an almost alien concept to Generation Z, defined as being born between 1997 and 2012.

There’s lots of research out there regarding how many jobs Gen-Zs will go through in their working life, and while the numbers may fluctuate slightly from one study to the next, the general trend is the same – Gen-Zs will typically not stay in the same job for longer than a few years and may even explore diverse careers along the way.

Research suggests that Gen-Zs will account for 27% of the workforce by 2025, by which time we’ll see a quarter of the workforce made up of employees motivated by more than just stability, financial rewards, and recognition (which were typical motivators of previous generations). So, what motivates Gen-Zs and what can organisations do to ensure that this young talent engenders loyalty and commitment?

Below we outline some of the key, cost-effective motivators for Gen-Z employees which may help to keep them engaged and fulfilled within a role:

  • Flexible work: Many Gen-Zs have only entered the workforce since the pandemic and know no different than the flexibility we’ve become accustomed to of hybrid working between the office and working from home. This style of working fits in well with Gen-Z employees, who typically focus more on ensuring an even work-life balance than employees from previous generations. To highlight just how important flexibility is, a recent study from Deloitte concluded that 75% of Gen-Z respondents would prioritise flexibility in a role over a higher salary. Therefore, to attract and retain younger employees it’s important that employers offer employees some autonomy over how and where they work.
  • Opportunities to grow and develop: Younger employees especially want the opportunity to try different things in the workplace and will often volunteer to help out on projects and opportunities outside of their day job in order to try their hand at something new. Offering learning and development training that goes beyond work related skills would also be well received by Gen-Z employees.
  • Recognition for achievement: This isn’t a new phenomenon exclusively true of the younger generation; recognition of achievements has always been important for employees. But in a world where employees are working from home more, it can be harder to get ‘in the moment’ recognition in front of a wider team. Employers should consider putting social recognition programmes and initiatives in place where team meetings and internal digital platforms are used to acknowledge achievements.
  • Meaningful work: Gen-Zs are heavily motivated by knowing that what they do at work is making a positive impact on the wider success of their team and the business. Therefore, it’s important to ensure younger employees are kept informed of how their work is contributing to the overall goals of their employer. They generally enjoy having some degree of autonomy over their work too, without needing to be micromanaged so employers should consider training programmes for managers that focus on coaching and mentoring.
  • Happy and inclusive workplace: Employees of any age want to join a company and be greeted by friendly, welcoming energy from their new colleagues. However, for younger employees, who may live alone for example, the relationships they build at work can be long lasting and have a real impact on their lives – so it’s important to create a working environment where Gen-Zs can take time to get to know their colleagues and build relationships.
  • Bringing their whole selves to work: Gen-Z is a generation that places a lot of emphasis on self-expression, which in part is a result of social media giving them the platform to showcase their personalities openly. Younger employees are less inclined to leave their personality at the door when it comes to work, which is partly the reason why they move jobs more frequently, as they try and find somewhere they feel that their ‘whole self’ aligns with the organisation they work for. It is becoming increasingly common for organisations to have ‘extra-curricular’ groups that employees can join, such as running clubs and book clubs etc. and employers should encourage employees with particular passions to take advantage of these to express themselves.
  • Corporate social responsibility: Younger employees are drawn to companies with strong corporate social responsibility because they seek purpose-driven working environments that align with their values and contribute positively to society. Gen-Zs are typically at the forefront of looking to impact social change, so employers embracing diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) will more than likely see younger employees showing loyalty and greater levels of commitment.

The absence of ‘more money’ as a motivator is not to say that Gen-Zs are not motivated by financial rewards – but those discussed above are all achievable wins that employers can be implementing right now, to keep young talent within their ranks for longer.

Got a question? Get in touch.