As the workforce evolves, so do the characteristics of the generations that make it up. One such generation that is making waves is Gen Z. The gen Z generation is quickly becoming the largest generation in the workforce, with projections estimating that they will make up 30% of the global workforce by 2030. As this generation ages, the influence it holds will continue to grow.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Gen Z’s demographics, values, and behavior, and discuss how retailers and HR and facility managers can foster a productive and sustainable relationship with this cohort. Because one thing is clear: Generation Z members have totally different behavior compared to their previous generations, and sustainability is their top priority.
Key takeaways and stats about Gen Z
Who is Gen Z?
Gen Z is one of the most diverse generations in history, with members hailing from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. They are also the first truly digital-native generation, having grown up with the internet and smartphones. According to a study by Deloitte, Gen Z is also highly educated, with over 60% of Gen Zers saying that they plan to pursue post-secondary education. According to abundant scientific research, Gen Z can be classified as a more green, sustainability-oriented and tech savy population. They relate to companies and brands that are able to connect with them and enhance their experience and feelings.
The Gen Z generation is born between 1997 and 2012. This generation is at the forefront of the climate change discussion. Global warming, climate change and a pandemic: Gen Z has grown up under the shadows of menacing environmental treats.
Gen Z as the sustainable generation
Every generation has their own major global events that is shaping them. For the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996), this was the Great Recession. For the Gen Z generation it is the global pandemic and climate change.
For almost two years, our universe has shut down. Factories stopped producing, Beijing was having a smogless blue sky for the first time in decades and highways that are normally clogged were completely empty. People learned to adapt. To do less, spend less and waste less. No other generation has been influenced so much like the Gen Z generation. The pandemic did not start the sustainability revolution, but it has put it into hyperdrive, and Gen Z is in the drivers seat, according to Forbes.
As this global pandemic is finally over and the economy starts to recover, this population is drastically changing the working environment and consumer behavior. Many studies highlight the sustainable oriented Generation Z, both when it comes to shopping as when it comes to their values regarding a positive and healthy working environment (Dabija, 2019; Firstinsight, 2020).
Surveys found that Gen Zers list global warming and climate change as their top concern. An astounding 71% reperted that they find their future frightening or worrisome.
Retail needs to be more sustainable oriented
We still have a long, long way for retail to be sustainable. But making retail more sustainable is being pushed by the new generation and young consumers. Nowadays, selling products to young consumers or Gen Z may not be possible without relying on green strategies. Whether it involves about sustainable production processes or to market them under sustainable principles.
The majority of Generation Z shoppers prefer to buy sustainable brands, and they are willing to spend 10% more on sustainable products. Along with the Millennials, these generations are most likely to make purchase decisions based on principles and values such as personal, social and environmental (source).
A more sustainable and meaningful office life
In general, Gen Z is more focust on sustainability and going green. In an earlier blog, we already wrote that a staggering 87% of the employees wants their employer to facilitate a more sustainable work environment or utilities. With the new generation on the rise, this amount will only increase. Having sustainable business processes and a green office are important factors for Gen Z employees to determine if the company or office is the right fit for them. As we earlier mentioned in this article, being able to relate and being able to connect with the brand are important determinants for this generation. In order to built a long lasting relationship with them, companies need to facilitate these values and needs.
Furthermore, Gen Z values companies that are transparant and enhance their feelings and experiences. In promoting a brand (whether it is a law firm or a retailer selling clothes), companies have to be more aware on the preferences and expectations of this new generation.
Hybrid working, greenery in the office, sustainable processes, a work Yoga session or a water tap that lets people enjoy unlimited filtered and enhanced vitamin water: there are many ways a company can connect more with their employees and offer healthy and sustainable alternatives. The Gen Z generation is more focussed on working in a safe and constructive working environment that fits their needs. They value healthy alternatives. The soda vending machine or coffee machine will be outdated. They opt for healthy alternatives and personalized experiences. According to YouGov analysis, almost half of the Gen Z generation (46%) says they never drink coffee at home or work.
The days of drinking endless cups of coffee or cans of Coca-cola (and endless amounts of single use plastics and waste) are over. We notice this first hand for our clients, as their main reason for buying the water tap is to provide a sustainable alternative to bottled drinks and offer functional and healthy drinks that fits the need-state. The water tap is a way for companies to reduce their carbon footprint, reduce Single use Plastics and offers personalized drinks that increase vitality.