Generation Z the Future of Workplace Disruption

How influential will this generation of digital natives poised to change the world of work be?

The latest generation of youthful influence to be stepping into the world of work are predicted to be one of the most disruptive and indeed influential generations yet. Generation Z, often referred to simply as Gen Z are the generation of those who were born in the late 1990’s to early 2010’s. 

There are many distinct differentiators that segment this generation from those that have come before. Yet perhaps most notable is the fact that this generation have grown up almost totally online, with access to the internet, digital technologies and social media all forming a core part of the culture and lexicon they grew up around in their formative years. 

OECD Employment Outlook 2022 | Source: OECD

By 2025, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) speculates that 27 percent of the workforce will be Gen Z in OECD member countries. But whilst this generation are looked to as being the very participants and leaders of the future of work. There are notable distinctions in outlook and values that are set to further disrupt the world of work beyond what we are witnessing today.

The disruption factors


Generation Z have a reported outlook on life and work that has not been seen in previous generations. Unlike their immediate predecessors, the millennial generation, Gen Z view remuneration as a far lower priority than factors that include flexible work schedules and remote working.


This generation places enormous value on autonomy and agency in the work they do. They have a keen desire to have their voices heard, but are also highly engaged with macro economic factors like politics and the environment. 

Meet true Gen | Source: McKinsey

Furthermore the characteristics of Gen Z have been described by Mckinsey and Co, following an extensive survey to learn more about their behaviours, as being relentless in the pursuit of truth. 


With the older members of this generation entering their early 20’s and with it the workforce or postgraduate education. One tenth of the electorate in 2020 were from this generation and are increasingly liberal and less conservative than previous generations.

Diversity is Everywhere 

Gen Z in their lifetime have experienced everything from the United States first Black president, to the legal­isa­tion of same-sex mar­riage. Individuals from this generation are more likely to have experienced non-traditional family structures, including those such as single parent families or blended families. The result? Gen Z are unfazed by dif­fer­ence and actively accept all notions of diversity.  

Digitally Native 

One of several striking factors about Gen Z, is that they are the first fully digitally native generation who have grown up almost wholly online. Gen Z was born into a world where peak tech­no­log­i­cal advances were a normalised part of the culture. For this group of individuals knowledge, information and content was imme­di­ate­ly acces­si­ble and social media became an increasing presence in theirs and everyone’s lives. 

Conscientious Consumers 

Gen Z can be described as conscientious consumers, who have a behaviour reflective of their values. As such, Gen Z leverages technology to research and make informed decisions prior to making a purchase.

Giving and receiving of sustainable gifts ranks most important for Generation Z – 62% of Gen Z shoppers demand sustainable retail

Sustainability in brands and products is also of critical importance to them. With this stance translating to all aspects of their life and decision making. 

Implications for organisations

As with any shift in the culture, the change leads to a variety of challenges and opportunities. For Organisations, the implications for the workplace is one that must respond to the positive disruptive factors brought with this generation. 

To attract the future of the workforce, business leaders will be called on to uplift their employee value proposition beyond what has been considered effective so far. 

Winning the talent war, a task that has continued to prove challenging and problematic for organisations, will benefit from using the Harvard Business Review framework to attract and retain talent as a jumping off point. 

Why a systemic approach is necessary | Source: McKinsey
Why a systemic approach is necessary | Source: McKinsey

Whilst material offering of growth & development, connection & community and meaning & community will continue to hold enormous value for Gen Z. It will also be the adoption of an empathetic style of leadership and other critical elements that will prove most effective. 

💼 Adopt An Intrapreneurial culture 

An Intrapreneurial culture is one where employees are encouraged and allowed to behave like entrepreneurs within the organisation they work for. 

Given that Gen Z are well informed and have a keen sense of their own identity. Their ideas are important to them and organisations who have a culture where these ideas are embraced, heard and recognised will be vital in attraction and retention efforts. 

Intrapreneurs are renowned for being self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented who pursue innovation and pushing the envelope, greatly akin to the characteristics seen in the up and coming Gen Z. 

🧘‍♂️ Make Flexibility A Priority 

Work life balance is one of the highest priorities for Gen Z, so much so that this generation are currently exploring the options of not working at all.

Many within this generation have been taking to social media with the outcry that ‘they do not dream of labour’ and with it are vocally resisting the idea of working in roles that restrict them from realising their freedom and talents.

The importance of flexibility in attracting and retaining talent is reflected by numerous surveys and studies that depict an overwhelming majority of Gen Z expecting flexibility to be a core tenet of their work life. 

Practices that organisations should continue to adopt and perhaps even increase include: Hybrid working, part-time working, flexitime, remote working and job sharing, amongst other options that will develop over time. 

♻️ Prioritise Globally Important Values 

Climate change is of vital concern for Gen Z, understandable when you consider that changes in the climate are set to impact this generation the most in the future. The result of this concern? Described by some reports as causing a Gen Z existential crisis, many surveys indicate this concern as translating to a desire of Gen Z’ers to seek out ethical workplaces and organisations that demonstrate a concern for social and environmental matters. 

Gen Z seek ethical workplaces as environ-mental health burden bites | Source: Bupa

Eco-anxiety for Gen Z is the direct result of climate change. Leading 64% of those surveyed in the 18-to-22-year-old age group considered it important for their employers to act on environmental issues. 

Furthermore a survey carried out by Bupa indicated that 63% of Gen Z are also anxious about social justice issues that include racism, sexism and homophobia. 

As such business leaders are being called on to act on ways that prioritise these issues and contribute to identifying solutions, but also how to support these causes both internally and externally. 

Bringing It All Together

The factors that set Gen Z apart as individuals will also define them as future employees. Their values will see them seeking our organisations that are deeply aligned with their values and actively involved in solving, contributing to and participating in eradicating the big global issues facing the world they are passionate about.

As their decision making and political power grows, Gen Zs are continuing to increasingly become a key focus for business leaders. The need to understand where their priorities and preferences are will quickly become the central focus of business owners and HR practitioners alike. 

Business owners seeking out the momentum required to hire, engage and retain this influential generation are well served by partnering with a HR Management tool like Sage HR. Sage HR provides small, medium and growing businesses with smart HR software solutions that streamline HR administration across everything from hiring, performance management and employee engagement.

By signing up for a free trial today, you can access market leading software to help your organisation remain one step ahead of the challenges facing business today. 



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Written By

Jade Taryn Graham

Jade is the founder & CEO of Inspired a people & talent consultancy working with the most innovative early stage companies worldwide. Founder & CCO of Inspired Talent Media Ltd and contributing writer for Sage HR where Jade writes about people, leadership, work/life balance and change.