Adobe Future Workforce Study: What U.S. employers need to know about Gen Z in the workplace
Today, Adobe released the findings of its latest Adobe Future Workforce Study, which explores the career motivations and workplace expectations of Generation Z (Gen Z), the generation poised to transform the post-pandemic workforce. The study surveyed over 1,000 Gen Z early career starters working at medium to large-sized companies in the U.S. to understand the perspectives and behaviors that drive the generation’s career decision-making and what they expect from their employers to do their best work. The findings provide an in-depth look at how young professionals are approaching their careers, including views on emerging technologies, career development, company values and corporate social responsibility.
Gen Z is cautiously approaching generative AI use in the workplace
Gen Z is often considered to be inherently “tech-savvy,” but many are taking a measured approach to emerging technology like generative AI.
- Gen Z is split on whether they are ready to embrace generative AI in the workplace, with 48 percent saying they feel prepared for their employer to adopt the technology in everyday work.
- While only 35 percent of survey participants said their organizations have implemented guidelines on generative AI use in the workplace, half of the respondents admitted to having used the technology to aid their work.
- Gen Z anticipates the inevitable permanence of generative AI but only 23 percent expressed excitement about its use in the workplace.
- Gen Z does not see generative AI as a threat, with 59 percent saying they are not concerned the technology will replace their jobs.
Gen Z aspires to do meaningful work and will speak up
Early career starters want to be change-makers in their workplace and are not shy about using their voice.
- Gen Z is eager to lend their perspectives at work with most respondents (89 percent) saying they are comfortable with providing feedback to their peers and colleagues.
- They readily speak up about workplace opportunities regardless of level, with 74 percent stating they feel comfortable giving upward feedback to managers or supervisors.
- 70 percent are eager to grow, not only in impact but up the corporate ladder to the C-suite.
- 69 percent said they feel good about career growth opportunities at their company, while 50 percent ranked no clear path to promotion as one of the top reasons they would leave a job.
Gen Z is hungry for mentorship and development
Starting a new career is not easy and Gen Z believes having a strong support system, including opportunities for mentorship and upskilling, can make all the difference.
- Gen Z is eager for career guidance with 83 percent saying a workplace mentor is crucial for their career. However, only about half of workers (52 percent) reported having a mentor.
- Despite career development being seemingly top of mind for Gen Z, over half of survey participants (55 percent) stated they only participate in career development training programs less than once a month, citing not having enough time as the number one obstacle.
- When asked what types of training they’d like to see more of, 48 percent said they wanted more training on hard skills related to their jobs, compared to 33 percent for soft skills.
- About a quarter (28 percent) believe their current role isn’t utilizing their skills to their full potential.
Value-driven employee experience tops Gen Z's workplace wish list
Early career starters are seeking workplace environments that encourage them to be their authentic selves. Survey participants ranked work-life balance, feeling connected to colleagues, and equitable treatment as the topmost important aspects of company culture.
- Gen Z prioritizes an inclusive workplace, ranking not getting along with managers or coworkers as the number one reason for leaving a job (52 percent), closely followed by less than satisfactory pay (48 percent).
- 80 percent said they have a strong support network of colleagues their age in the workplace, allowing the majority to feel comfortable being open about traditionally sensitive topics like job satisfaction (87 percent) and compensation (77 percent).
- With 63 percent of survey respondents saying they work on-site full-time today, it’s not surprising that 81 percent consider on-site office experiences important.
- Gen Z believes company values shape their workplace experience. An overwhelming majority of participants (96 percent) said they are familiar with their company’s values and 78 percent stressed the importance of being able to connect with the company values.
- Corporate social responsibility is important to early career starters with more than half (56 percent) reporting they want to work for a company that is outspoken about social issues.
- Notably, most Gen Z workers (84 percent) believe their current employer is hitting the mark in regard to being a good corporate citizen.
Adobe collaborated with Advanis to collect 1,011 responses from U.S. Gen Z (those who are born between 1997 and 2012) who have been working full-time for a medium to large-sized company (750 employees or more) for up to three years. Data was collected from an online sample panel in early September 2023.