The newest generation to enter the workforce, Generation Z, should be called “The Purpose Generation.”
In a large study of over 2,000 respondents released earlier this month, researchers found that “…for the first time, we see a generation prioritizing purpose in their work.”
While ample research finds Millennials are driven by growth, a balanced lifestyle, and security, this new study by the Lovell Corporation finds that those born between 1994 and 2001 are driven more by purpose, passion, and impact.
What does this mean for organizations?
It means it’s time to get serious and do the hard work of discovering, clarifying, and aligning purpose.
Here are some insights for organizational leaders from the latest study:
1. Organizations must have a purpose worth committing to.
One of the key work values of Generation Z is pride in the organization they work for. And research finds a key way to cultivate that pride is through a higher organizational purpose that is shared and aligned throughout the organization.
Organizations must discover a purpose that is worth committing to – one that is socially responsible, human-centered, and ethical.
How does your organization contribute to and change human beings’ lives? How do your employees know?
It’s officially time do away with the spent and ineffective motivation tactics of the last century. People aren’t motivated by acquiring and achieving things. They are motivated by fulfilling a purpose. And it seems that Generation Z will demand it.
2. Cultivating meaningful work will be imperative.
It seems clear that Generation Z is driven by doing meaningful work. When asked about their future careers, less than half of respondents indicated a desire to work in the private sector. Over half expressed a desire for public service and nonprofit work.
The desire for service and impact means that, for all industries, creating intentional pathways to meaningfulness will be imperative. Meaningful work has been described as work that its practitioners determine to be positive, purposeful, and significant.
Cultivating significance by focusing on the greater good of the work and showing clearly why the work matters is a key researched practice to foster meaningfulness.
Organizations will have to re-humanize everyday work by bringing employees closer to the people their work inevitably impacts.
3. It’s time to take wellness seriously.
When asked what employers could do better to support younger workers, Generation Z overwhelmingly sought greater mental health support.
Researchers found, “With rising rates of anxiety and depression among youth, the emphasis placed on mental health by Generation Z suggests that the tough labor market and precarious school-to-work transition is taking its toll on young professionals.”
Offering support to new employees transitioning into a full-time work environment and cultivating cultures that earnestly prioritize the importance of well-being will be critical.
Creating Better Organizations for Everyone, Not Just Generation Z
One of my own challenges with popular generational research is that it has the tendency to label more than understand.
One way to counteract this potential negative impact is by looking at the research and asking, “How can these findings make our organization better for everyone?”
And as my own research has found, the search for meaning and purpose at work is intergenerational, a universal human desire.
Becoming a more purposeful, impact-driven, and healthy organization isn’t just good for Generation Z, it is good for everyone.
Zach Mercurio is an international speaker, trainer, and purpose and meaningful work consultant. He is a researcher and adjunct faculty at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. His latest book is called, The Invisible Leader: Transform Your Life, Work, and Organization with the Power of Authentic Purpose.