Uncovering Gen Z: Workplace Edition

As a Gen Zer herself, NICOLE LOW shares her thoughts about Gen Z’s unique work ethos – from prioritising work-life balance to embracing the side-hustle culture.



Nicole Low Jing Xuan
The UrbanWire Deputy Editor

Hype Issue #58

Published on
March 23, 2024
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The workplace is no longer a place filled with segregated cubicles for employees to work in solitude – these days, more has been done to ensure that the working space is a conducive and welcoming environment to boost productivity. Photo taken from pinimg.

Picture yourself in an interview where the hiring manager is enthusiastically speaking about the virtues and traits of a Generation Z (also known as Gen Z) employee and how the company wishes for the younger generation to breathe new life into their organisation. As a Gen Z myself, these may all seem rather motivating and enticing at the start – but after rounds and rounds of interviews, I can’t help but wonder if this notion is genuine, and if companies are truly ready to embrace change.

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Gen Zs are redefining the workplace with their innovative and flexible approach to work as they embrace new opportunities. Photo taken from Behance.

Gen Z is known for being a socially conscious generation that prioritises mental health,  work-life balance, and understands the need for communication and a shift from the old conventional working patterns. The lack of flexibility in a workplace could also be a red flag for Gen Z employees as seen from a LinkedIn survey, where 72% of Gen Z is shown to have either left or considered leaving a job because their employer did not offer a feasible flexible work policy. Another study by Mckinsey also reports a staggering 77% of Gen Z prioritising work-life balance. Without a doubt, these traits raise the eyebrows of many from the older generations.

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Gen Zs face the weight of modern stresses as they navigate through a volatile world. Photo taken from Synergy Art.

However, these demands are not without valid reasoning. Did you know that reports from McKinsey have stated that Gen Zs have the least positive outlook on life and that they are two to three times more likely than other generations to have thought about or attempted suicide in the past year? With the need to constantly adapt to the volatile demands of today’s ever-changing and dynamic world, the Gen Zs are facing unprecedented challenges that are unlike anything the previous generations have encountered. With social media and technology at the heart of our lives since we can remember, along with the social and educational disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and stress are no strangers to Gen Z.

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Gen Z value personal well-being as much as professional success in their pursuit of fulfilment. Photo taken from Pinimg.

Apart from that, many of us have witnessed first-hand how our parents toiled and struggled through their jobs while sacrificing their mental health and happiness – all for a single paycheck. This has evidently impacted us greatly. As compared to all the other generations, Gen Z recognises the importance and value of one’s mental health the most – thus, it’s no surprise that we actively seek work environments that promote well-being and provide resources for mental health. And for any companies out there that need any further justification to amp up the welfare for their employees, 88% of human resource professionals from a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) stated that these benefits could increase productivity and 86% said that these resources could also improve employee retention!


Now, hold your horses if you think that Gen Zs are all about their demands and no work. Despite the demand for better work-life balance and a less restrictive work culture, Gen Zs are not any less driven than others. In fact, more than 60% of the respondents from the International Council of Shopping Centers’ study cited a successful career as their top priority.


Other than their day job, Gen Z is also known as the hustle generation – with almost half of the Gen Z participants in the Wakefield Research study having numerous side hustles. This is spurred mostly by the lack of stability in their day jobs and the motivation to be financially independent. Determined to not just rely on their typical 9 to 5 jobs, 40% of Gen Zs in a survey by Kantar hold a minimum of 2 jobs as they face present-day financial struggles. Not just that, unlike the previous generations, they no longer believe in solely working hard for their day job as they feel underpaid.

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By infusing positivity and driving meaningful changes, Gen Zs can help foster a collaborative and welcoming spirit within their workplace. Photo taken from Pinterest.

So what does that mean? While Gen Zs and the other generations may have their differences – as seen from how 82% of managers from the Harris Poll’s pool of 1,200 knowledge workers think that they have unrealistic workplace expectations, it is crucial for both organisations and new employees to adapt and work hand in hand for a stronger workforce. For employers out there who are looking to attract young talents, embrace the values, differences, and positives that Gen Zs will bring to the table. And for my fellow Gen Zs, do not be fearful to infuse your ambition and innovation to catalyse changes in your workplace!