Gen Z and Gen Alpha: What motivates them in the workforce?

Published on
July 4, 2023

By 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce, while Gen Alpha will start entering the workforce by 2030. Each generation has unique attitudes and expectations of the workforce—shaped by the climate around them.

Gen Z (born in the late 90s to early 2010s) are entering the workforce during rising inflation, a housing crisis, a pandemic and its aftermath and a looming recession, while Gen Alpha (born from 2010-2024) are growing up and witnessing their parents deal with these events.

We can expect each generation to shift the way we work as they come in with their own ideas and expectations. Innovative companies recognise this and are developing ways to work with and engage this intrinsically motivated future workforce.

This article aims to highlight the key ways to engage the Gen Z and Gen Alpha workforce, while discussing how self-organised and decentralised organisations support their way of working—touching on how Sociocracy, Holacracy and Teal methodologies could play a key role in delivering on their expectations.

What motivates Gen Z?

Gen Z are not as likely as previous generations to make compromises for a workplace that doesn’t fit their values and align with their goals. So, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for organisations to adapt and find new ways of working.

Making a values-aligned impact

A Deloitte study reveals that 47% of Gen Z want to positively impact their community. Both Gen Z and Gen Alpha are more socially aware. They want to work for organisations that align with their values and do something that benefits society.

Above anything else, this generation wants to serve a purpose. Self-organised organisations, including those using Sociocracy, Teal methodologies, and Holacracy, utilise purpose as the north star of their organisation, meaning matching intrinsic motivation is a given. That’s why we’re likely to see more people from the younger generations veer towards self-organised organisations.

Flexibility, work-life balance and mental health support

Flexibility and work-life balance are essential for Gen Z employees. Research has shown that Gen Z job seekers are 77% more likely to click on a job opening that mentions “flexibility” than one that doesn’t. Remote work plays a significant role in this flexibility.

Due to entering the workforce during a pandemic, one in five Gen Z employees has never worked in person. According to GOBankingRates, 56% of this generation wants or needs to work outside traditional office settings.

A better work-life balance also comes in the form of various employee benefits—from well-being programs to more options for childcare support, pet insurance, higher salaries and a more flexible work structure.

Gen Z reportedly shows higher anxiety, depression and distress rates than any other age group. This generation expects employers to provide access to mental health services and benefits while finding creative ways to support any employee mental health challenges resulting from the workplace.

In a decentralised organisation anyone can impact the policies and norms around work-life balance. This naturally makes the organisation's culture more reflective of the shared needs.

Diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI)

Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation yet—with just under half of Gen Zers identifying as an ethnic or racial minority.

83% of Gen Z candidates say that a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is essential when choosing an employer. Organisations need to do more than hire a diverse team. They also need to ensure that different views are accepted and valued. Again, self-organised organisations support this concept by ensuring that everyone is enabled to share their viewpoints and expertise.

What will motivate Gen Alpha?

Considered the most technological, diverse, conscious and educationally-advanced generation to date, Gen Alpha are expected to be strong future assets of corporations worldwide.

Like Gen Z, Gen Alpha will likely not want to work for companies that don't align with their values. This will continue to pressure organisations to create a better society and work for more than just making a profit.

Here are a few more areas that are likely to motivate Gen Alpha in the workforce:

Skill-based learning

Gen Alpha will likely prioritise skills over degrees and on-the-job training over traditional learning facilities. This generation's early adoption of AI, voice search and machine learning means they’ll learn faster while also applying that learning differently.

Having grown up immersed in virtual experiences, virtual learning will play a massive role in their lives, especially gamified learning.

Decentralised organisations offer more prime conditions for skill-based learning as there are more opportunities to energise roles that develop skills and experience.

Employee recognition and validation

Having grown up with social media, Gen Alpha’s are likely to be the most competitive generation yet, with the highest expectations. They will probably expect the same direct feedback and interaction in their work as they get from social media. To achieve this, organisations will need to implement peer feedback systems that are integral to any decentralised organisation.

A tech-enabled workplace

Gen Alpha’s have had technology incorporated into their lives since they were born and will expect workplaces to be technologically advanced. This means customised work experiences and using technology to make their work more efficient so that they can focus on the high-impact work that adds value.

Being digital-first, Gen Alpha will primarily collaborate and communicate on tech tools. And they won’t work for any companies that don’t offer them a seamless integration of their on and offline work.

How Holacracy could support a young workforce

Holacracy is a method of decentralised work management and organisational governance. Similar to Sociocracy, Holacracy embeds self-management and self-organisation. In holacratic organisations, authority is distributed throughout, with no people hierarchies.

This approach to work is exciting for Gen Z and Gen Alpha, who want to be full partners in making the changes that affect them. Self-organised organisations also align with their desire for purpose-led work.

Aligning around a common purpose requires the proper tooling—and that’s where Nestr comes in. Our tool helps organisations make a meaningful impact in their work while enabling members to express and embed their values—all areas valued by Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

To learn more about how your organisation can become purpose-driven, read: ‘A hierarchy of purpose not people: What does it mean for your organisation?

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