I interviewed three diverse Gen Z’ers including a Cambridge Law graduate, a BAME computing professional, and an employee of multi-billion dollar media company to find out what they think makes a good community in the workplace.
**Names have been changed for anonymity
1. Describe who you are (without using your job title)
Jessica: I am a Law graduate that has worked in legal and not-for-profit fields.
William: I help guide the direction of the products I’m working on and make sure they fulfil customer needs.
Jordan: I’m a recent graduate working in entertainment.
2. Describe your experience in the companies you’ve worked for? Do you feel you served a purpose?
Jessica: In my not-for-profit role, I feel that I served a strong purpose, not only to the beneficiaries we were directly providing for, but to the wider community to whom our work benefitted. I believed in the impact of our work to instigate change and progress in society. Whether completing minor tasks or taking on more responsibility, there was an awareness that you were contributing to something bigger than yourself.
In my legal, corporate role, I feel that I serve a purpose by providing a service directly to our clients. We continue to provide high-quality advice and services which supports our clients’ businesses. I am able to build relationships with clients and support them through challenges, creating a strong purpose of being able to help clients in times of need.
William: Yeah I do feel like I’m making an impact through the work I do as I constantly interact with customers and gauge how their workflows have been impacted directly as a result of the work I’ve done.
Jordan: I do feel I served a purpose. The aims and objectives of my team - and the company more broadly - were clear, and I believed in the impact / benefit of the work we were doing. I also continued to grow professionally and succeed throughout my time at the company.
3. What things in a workplace community make you feel like you belong, and what doesn’t?
Jessica: In my not-for-profit role, there was a clear sense of belonging as all employees were working towards, and believed in, a common purpose. It naturally brought together like-minded people who were passionate about the cause.
In my legal role, there are far more employees and personality types. However, the firm has built a community which encourages networking of individuals across the firm, and has created groups to recognise and support different groups, including women, LGBTQ+ and minority groups. A workplace that promotes equal opportunities for all and inclusivity for everyone makes me feel like I belong.
William: The one thing that makes me feel like I belong is the ability to debate and argue over decisions openly without feeling threatened or attacked. Open conversations with the people I work with makes me feel the most secure.
One thing that definitely doesn’t work is when higher ups try to micromanage even when they don’t fully understand the scope of the issue.
Jordan: Networking opportunities and personal stories from company executives helped to build the workplace community for me.
Though I haven’t experienced organisational ambiguity, which is the opposite to me in terms of company direction, I think it would make employees less likely to feel as though they belong.
What I noticed in these answers was all three of my friends knew the impact their role made. They knew their individual roles and motivations, but when it came to what they thought made a good community, all three looked to make sure there was room for different people to feel like they belonged, and only my friend working for a non-profit said they experienced a focused like-mindedness in a community.
Purpose and shared values have shown to be key in creating a good community in my research, but these interviews showed me that for Gen-Z, it is key to allow for different motivators and opinions. This is because there are multiple good ways to achieve shared purpose, and Gen-Z expects companies to be set up in a way that utilises the skills of everyone in the company.
If your company wants to attract Gen-Z talent, is it because you're not making room for enough discourse in your organisation?
What did you learn?
What did you take away from this? Did anything surprise you? If it did, let me know in the comments and make sure to share this post with someone who could benefit from knowing the opinion of high performing, diverse Gen Z’ers want from their workplaces.
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