Business in the Northwest:
As COVID-19 cases fall and mask mandates are lifted around the country, Pacific Northwest (PNW) employers and employees are continuing to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape. For the second year in a row, the WSU Carson College of Business heard directly from the youngest members of our workforce—Gen Z employees. This year, these employees are feeling more optimistic about the future but are also placing greater emphasis on employee experience, choosing to work for companies whose values align with their own. In this spotlight report, we provide a deeper look at how Gen Z employees are faring and their hopes and expectations for their future of work in the PNW.
Key Finding 1:
Despite feeling like they missed out on some of the in-person office experience, Gen Z employees still prefer the new ways of working brought on by COVID-19.
Although 67% of Gen Z employees feel they are behind some of their coworkers and peers because they never had the traditional office experience, 53% do not feel ready to return to the workplace. In fact, 63% don’t think the traditional 9-to-5 office setting would have worked for them. Ultimately, this hesitation to return onsite isn’t due to safety concerns. Gen Z employees (73%) feel it is safe to return to the workplace in-person, an increase of 12 percentage points from 2021.
Key Finding 2:
More than any other generation, Gen Z employees want to work for a company whose values align with their own.
The Great Resignation has shifted employment power dynamics in the favor of employees, and Gen Z is placing a greater emphasis on company values and well-being. Gen Z (92%) said it is crucial to work for a company that cares about employee well-being, and 82% said diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are a must have in the workplace.
Gen Z employees are also prioritizing mental health over flexible work options: 70% only want to work for a company that provides clear mental health offerings, and 69% agree well-being seminars have a positive impact on morale (up 18 pp from 2021).
Additionally, 79% said they only want to work for a company whose values align with their own, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2021.
Key Finding 3:
Gen Z employees feel their career trajectory has been slowed due to COVID-19 and are now looking at companies to provide the resources they need to grow.
Gen Z employees are worried that starting their careers remotely has hindered their growth, leading some to feel less passionate about their chosen industry of work (60%) and even rethink if they want to remain in their current job/career or switch to something else (77%).
More than any other generation, Gen Z employees are placing a greater emphasis on reskilling and training: 74% say additional training for employees had a positive impact on their morale, an increase in 15 percentage points from last year.
Key Finding 4:
Gen Z Employees have an overall positive and hopeful outlook on the future of business in the PNW.
Last year, 70% of Gen Z employees said they felt unsure about what the future held for their company. This year, that percentage dropped significantly with just over half (55%) continuing to feel this way.
Now, Gen Z employees are much more optimistic: less than half (49%) of Gen Z employees are worried about the growth potential of their career in the Pacific Northwest, down 19 percentage points from 2021.
Additionally, 80% said they have what they need in their position to help their company be successful, and 81% said they are hopeful their company will expand in the next year. This is another significant contrast from last year when 60% said they were worried their company would have to downsize in 2022.
Explore the information from the Business in the Northwest 2022: Gen Z Report Narrative Through Active Data Visualizations