Simplify your talent journey and make confident people-focused decisions with Xref. Find out why the organisations you trust, choose Xref.
Reduce attrition, improve retention, build corporate memory to improve organisational metrics with an Xref Exit Survey.
Give your people a voice with a tailored Xref Engage survey.
Increase retention and reduce turnover with quick employee feedback from an Xref Pulse Survey.
Get started with referencing in Xref today for free. No credit card required.
Each generation has distinctive characteristics informed by world events, so when a new generation enters the workforce, the ways workers interact and like to be managed differ from previous generations.
Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, post-millennials, zoomers and iGeneration, are born between 1997 and 2012. Factors that have shaped Gen Z include the global pandemic, climate anxiety, mental health concerns, and a shaky global economy.
These factors influence how Gen Z perceives work. Unlike its predecessors, this generation of digital natives discusses these ideas openly on platforms like TikTok.
Since Gen Z started to enter the workplace a few years ago, catchy terms that illustrate the attitudes and perceptions of these younger workers have popped up, causing exciting discussions. In this blog, we will look at the workplace trends Gen Z has created and what they can teach us about how Gen Z workers like to work. Understanding how to attract and retain Gen Z employees is important in times of a talent shortage.
“Rage applying” is a workplace term popularised by Gen Z. The term rage applying refers to when workers apply for as many jobs as possible over a short period in response to feeling frustrated in their current role.
Boiled down, rage applying is employee dissatisfaction in action, which can negatively affect team morale, productivity and organisational outputs.
The concept of rage applying isn’t necessarily new – Gen Z just gave it a catchy name – but there are Gen Z-specific factors that play a part.
Gen Z worker frustrations are believed to be primarily a result of the pandemic. Many Gen Z workers entered the workforce during the pandemic when organisations operated remotely. As a result, they did not create working relationships in the ways the generations before them were able to. Gen Z workers may, therefore, feel unengaged, unsupported and like they don’t ‘belong’.
In our recent blog about rage applying, we discuss ways HR can reduce instances of it, including ensuring corporate values and policies align with younger workers, providing mentorship and supporting wellbeing.
Another workplace term coined by Gen Z is “quiet quitting”. Quiet quitting refers to workers who do what is required but no more and without any enthusiasm.
The term exploded last year on TikTok when a creator explained it as not outright quitting but not going above and beyond at work. The phenomenon resonated with employees who felt burnt out and could not give more of themselves while protecting their wellbeing.
Quiet quitting is the antithesis of hustle culture – a trend popularised in the early 2000s that Gen Z is dismantling. Hustle culture refers to doing what it takes to succeed and glamorising ‘overworking’, even at the detriment of one’s wellbeing. We discuss hustle culture in more detail in our May Trends blog.
Quiet quitting is a problem for organisations because it suggests a problem with employee morale or perhaps that workloads are too high and employees feel undervalued.
Leaders may spot signs of quiet quitting by looking at changes in employee behaviour and whether there is a pattern of resignations. Organisations may also use pulse surveys to gauge employee sentiment and attitudes to work and uncover things like high workloads, stress, and lack of flexibility which may be causing dissatisfaction. With insights into what employees want, leaders can make positive lasting changes to improve engagement and retention.
On the opposite end of the spectrum to quiet quitting is “loud quitting” – a term that has burst onto the scene in the past month.
Loud quitting refers to workers who are actively disengaged in their job and are not afraid to show it. Gallup’s annual State of the Workplace: 2023 Report found that 1 in 5 (18%) global employees are loudly quitting.
According to Gallup, loud quitters take actions that “directly harm” the organisation, often resulting from broken employer-employee trust and high stress. The report found that out of the loud quitters, 61% are actively seeking a new job.
The report also found that less than one quarter (23%) of workers consider themselves actively engaged at work.
A similar workplace term between quiet and loud quitting on the spectrum is “resenteeism”. The term resenteeism was coined by the business software company RotaCloud and refers to dissatisfied employees who stay in a job they dislike because they feel stuck financially or don’t have better options.
Resentees are a step beyond quiet quitters in terms of dissatisfaction levels. These employees have a noticeably poor attitude to work: they are unmotivated, have an unwillingness to go above and beyond, and produce poor-quality work. However, they are arguably less troublesome than loud quitters who actively push back on their employers.
Still, resenteeism can cause major headaches for employers as dissatisfied employees may air their grievances to other employees.
To lessen instances of resenteeism, leaders should encourage employees to provide feedback on their experiences at work via surveys. Leaders should also take steps to recognise and alleviate stress and burnout (for example, encourage employees to take time off) and show appreciation to employees.
Another term that has entered the workplace this year is “bare minimum Mondays”. The term bare minimum Mondays was coined by a TikTok creator who said they do the ‘bare minimum’ on Mondays to ease work-related anxiety, such as completing small tasks instead of larger, ‘stressful’ tasks
The TikTok creator considers bare minimum Mondays to be a remedy to “Sunday scaries”, which describes the feeling of work dread setting in on a Sunday, the day before a new work week.
While the term ‘bare minimum Mondays’ doesn’t have a positive ring to it, the concept makes sense – it’s human nature to want to ease into the week rather than go full pelt, just as it’s common to wind down on a Friday afternoon and leave any big tasks for the week ahead.
Managers may already implement similar practices to get the best out of their team. For example, they may give employees Friday afternoons off to do a fun activity of their choice, or insist that Monday mornings are meeting-free so that employees can catch up on emails and admin.
It’s important to understand each new generation that enters the workforce. Gen Z-created terms illustrate their workplace experiences and spark insightful conversations about how work is changing. Every generation has frustrations and expectations of work; Gen Z’s frustrations are simply broadcast across digital channels.
To effectively engage Gen Z workers and create a work environment in which they can deliver real value to an organisation, employers must understand what Gen Z is looking for.
According to research by John Hopkins University, Gen Z workers hold the following factors in high regard:
Let’s look at each in more detail.
The perception of workplace flexibility has changed since the pandemic. Flexibility used to mean employees could leave work early to pick up the kids from school or take a longer lunch break to go to the gym. Now, however, the amount of flexibility desired is much higher.
According to a World Economic Forum report, 73% of Gen Z workers want flexible work alternatives, including a mix of onsite, hybrid and remote arrangements. To Gen Z, flexibility also means working outside the typical 9-5, 40-hour Monday-Friday work week. Gen Z is likely to work evenings and weekends to work to reach their goals and earn money.
Research shows that 6 in 10 Gen Z employees find that remote and hybrid working arrangements increase productivity and remove many stressors associated with poor mental health.
Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation. Therefore, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is an expectation at work.
A study by Tallo reported that 77% of Gen Zers have witnessed workplace discrimination based on ethnicity, race, gender identity or sexual orientation, and 51% said they have been a victim of workplace discrimination.
The Tallo study also revealed that 88% of Gen Z survey respondents think it’s important that potential employers and recruiters ask candidates what their preferred gender pronouns are, and 25% said that they would leave a job if a recruiter failed to use the correct pronouns after they were shared.
Generally, Gen Z job seekers will base their perception of an organisation on whether it represents a racially and ethnically diverse workplace and actively seek organisations that encourage employees to express themselves freely.
Deloitte research found that a large majority (77%) of Gen Z workers find it important to work for a company whose values align with theirs.
Gen Z shares similar views on key social issues to Millennials – for example, both generations are progressive and see growing racial and ethnic diversity as a positive thing, according to the US-based Pew Research Center.
Environmental responsibility is also high on the checklist of attributes Gen Z looks for in an employer. Research from John Hopkins University found that 4 in 10 (39%) Gen Z survey respondents claim they are highly engaged in environmental concerns and organisations that can prove they are doing work to promote sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint are more attractive.
Trending workplace terms like ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘rage applying’ may be buzzwords, but they tell us a lot about how Gen Z is shaping the workforce in the way that suits them.
Many of the values Gen Z possesses are shared by Millennials – the desire for greater flexibility, environmental responsibility and DEI. However, while these were Millennial preferences, they are Gen Z non-negotiables.
Engaging members of Gen Z is important in times like today when there are talent shortages across industries. Gen Z isn’t the future of the workforce, but the present, and their influence will surely make positive changes for all.