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Ambitious Generation Z entering the workplace with modest expectations

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By Kathy Canavan

Believe it or not, Generation Z is entering the workplace. And those born between 1990 and 1999 have very specific workplace hopes, according to a new survey.

Hint: Startups are so over. So is the open work environment.

Millennials love their startups, but only 14 percent of the succeeding generation considers them ideal. Most Gen Z’ers want to work in midsized organizations — 41 percent. About 38 percent prefer large organizations.

A private office is on the wish list of 45 percent of respondents to the Robert Half-Enactus survey. 

Forget texting, Instagram or e-mail. Face-to-face communication was the top pick for 74 percent of respondents.

Unlike the boomers in the ’70s, these newbies are not naïve. About 77 percent believe they’ll have to work harder than past generations to have a fulfilling professional life. About 26 percent said their top career concern is making enough money. About 23 percent said it is finding a stable job. And, parroting the millennials, 28 percent said balancing work and personal obligations was their top concern.

Gen Z respondents said they expect to work for an average of four companies during their work lives. One in three said they’d like to retire by 60, but most don’t think it will be possible.

They have ambitious goals. About 32 percent said they will manage other employees in a corporate environment within five years. What they want most out of a job is the opportunity for career growth. An impressive job title? Not so much. Only 3 percent cited it.

The top qualities they seek in a boss are honesty and integrity (38 percent want it) and mentoring ability (21 percent).

They want to collaborate — but they’re not so sure about working with baby boomers. About 45 percent said working with baby boomers might be a deal-breaker. About 17 percent cited Gen X as a challenge, compared to only 5 percent who cited millennials.

“They’ve grown up in economically turbulent times, and many of their characteristics and motivations reflect that,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “This group of professionals has grown up with technology available to them around the clock and is accustomed to constant learning. Companies with a solid understanding of this generation’s values and preferences will be well prepared to create work environments that attract a new generation of employees and maximize their potential.”

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