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Affirmation addicts: Gen Z demands rewards for working or they’ll quit

Embracing Gen Z values at work may seem tricky, but the payoffs are huge. When we invest in their happiness and shift to align with their values, we attract top talent, boost productivity, and enhance innovation. Employers can call time on being uptight, and lean into meeting the new and complex needs of young workers. After all, when Gen Alpha gets here, old-fashioned workplaces won’t stand a chance!

Half (46%) of Gen Z workers (aged 18-24) in the UK feel their work goes unrecognised, according to new research from Reward Gateway, the employee engagement leader.

Without this recognition and reward, a third (32%) say they’re lonely in the workplace – the most of all age groups, and over three times more than Baby Boomers aged 55+ (9%).

The research points to Gen Z being affirmation addicts, who will quit if they don’t get it. Over a fifth (22%) of Gen Z workers are quitting jobs that don’t give them benefits, more than any other generation in workforce. They’re also the most likely (16%) to throw in the towel if an employer’s missions and values don’t align with their own.

The workplace is tough for Gen Z
Over half of Gen Z workers are frequently stressed (54%) or overwhelmed (46%) at work – more than other all other generations. The same is true with burnout (43%) – which they feel more than twice as much as Boomers (26%).

Now, sick leave has hit its highest level in 10 years as more Gen Z employees enter the workforce. It’s no wonder Gen Z takes the most unplanned mental health days off per year (three). Dealing with stress this way highlights the huge contrast between today’s oldest and youngest workers: Boomers take an average of just one, with almost three quarters (74%) taking none at all.

Time for emotional support managers?
Gen Z are looking to their managers for support with their stress and burnout – a marked shift from the days when bosses simply spotted errors in your work and told you off for being late. Currently, less than a fifth (19%) feel very supported by their managers – the least of any generation.

So, it’s up to managers to support wellbeing and secure loyalty. 80% say their manager and workplace positively impacts their wellbeing and 94% have suggestions to make that happen – namely more recognition and more regular check-ins. Both are more than any other generation. Managers certainly have their work cut out with Gen Z, but experts say that’s just what the workplace needs:

Nebel Crowhurst, Chief People Officer at Reward Gateway, said: “Embracing Gen Z values at work may seem tricky, but the payoffs are huge. When we invest in their happiness and shift to align with their values, we attract top talent, boost productivity, and enhance innovation. Employers can call time on being uptight, and lean into meeting the new and complex needs of young workers. After all, when Gen Alpha gets here, old-fashioned workplaces won’t stand a chance!”

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