Industries and enterprises across Vietnam know that in a few years, their workforce will be dominated by Gen Z — a generation of socially connected but highly independent individuals who are hungry for personal and career growth and are not scared of taking life-changing leaps. For many new tech-focused startups, the trend has already started.
But not all companies know how to attract, handle and retain this generation of young, creative and worldly employees. With COVID-19 becoming a defining moment for this generation — instilling fears about the uncertain future but also pushing for a YOLO mentality — Gen Zers are stepping onto the world with their own definitions of power, growth and success in their chosen careers.
So, what specifically does Gen Z want? What should the future workplace look like to attract and keep them? What will keep them driven and motivated?
Employers, managers and HR leaders should understand that having the answers to these questions is a prerequisite to a successful business. After all, Gen Zers hold the future of any workplace.
A new research by Dreamplex and Decision Lab tackles the four components of a competitive workplace for Gen Z in Vietnam.
Growing up with social media and online platforms, Gen Zers love the connection they have with the world. And this has directly impacted what they want to do for a living. Asked what their dream job was, they ranked Entertainment & Media the highest, followed by Creative. E-commerce is new, and immediately came in at a shared second place.
Same with last year’s research, this generation is much less interested in pursuing careers in government, industrial, retail and FMCG.
For companies that aren't in line with entertainment, the research suggests integrating a venue to create content to the working environment will help attract Gen Z employees.
Moreover, the Gen Z workforce also finds the opportunity to learn new skills (32%) and acquiring new knowledge (23%) as its biggest motivations to start a new job — significantly beating the amount of salary they may earn (19%).
So, what do they want to learn? Nearly 20% of the Gen Z respondents want to upgrade their skills in communication, networking, public speaking and English.
This group also specifically wants “personal support” and “training for essential work skills” during their first month on the job so they can quickly adjust to the company culture and gain industry insights.
Ways of Working
Surprisingly (or not), this “intricately connected” generation does not favor in-person communication. Instant messaging is by far the most preferred way to keep communication flowing at work with colleagues and managers. In fact, instant messaging outshines all other communication methods, with 71%. Text message and email are the two least preferred by this generation. Only 7.5% want an in-person conversation.
The research also shows that Gen Z employees like working in groups (44.3%) more than doing tasks alone (31.1%). And 15.1% of them prefer to work in groups remotely, while more than 9.4% want to work alone either online or outside the company.
But while they don’t prefer working on tasks individually, Gen Zers want to get started on projects on their own, rather than having supervisors hovering over them. An overwhelming 86% said they would want to do their own research first, and then seek help after. Only 9% said they would ask for instructions immediately.
However, this doesn’t mean they only want to work by themselves. Gen Z wants feedback and honest opinions about their work. 97% said they want feedback at least once a month, and 85% want feedback at least once a week. More than 40% of them even want to receive feedback at least once a day.
This is all part of Gen Zers’ motivation to continuously improve. They work not just to make money, but to grow and develop themselves.
Just like how they value constructive feedback, this generation of workers finds recognition equally important. When they know their work is acknowledged and appreciated, Gen Z employees stay longer.
The research shows that recognition is generally very important for Vietnamese Gen Z, especially when it comes from the family, teachers/mentors and managers/bosses.
And given how the pandemic has blurred the line between work and personal life, 64% of the respondents requested work-life balance and mental wellbeing support as workplace perks.
When asked what they want for a physical office, over 75% of Gen Z respondents said they want it to be comfortable - even more than professional and creative. Comfort goes beyond just furniture, however. These young workers want a place where they can be themselves and not be constrained by existing stereotypes.
But that’s not all. Gen Zers have a lot of demands for the kind of work environment they want to have. Offices need to be modern (66%), professional (65.1%), creative (64.2%), playful (57.5%), natural/green (54.7%), focused (54.7%), collaborative (52.8%) and relaxing (50.9%).
With such a wide range of requirements, it’s understandable that creating a workspace that aligns with their youngest employees’ preferences is a big struggle for companies. This is the reason co-working spaces or outsourced workplaces have grown popular in recent years.
This generation of workers also demands fast and stable WiFi and innovative devices to drive productivity. 91% of Gen Z said that a strong WiFi is an important amenity in the office. 64% said printers, copiers, TVs and projectors should also be provided. And with online meetings becoming the new trend, 20% of the respondents want dedicated booths for online calls.
Besides tech amenities, Gen Zers also ask for private work areas (71%), napping space (63%), snack shelf or vending machine (43%) and a cafeteria (42%) within the building.
Flexibility and Choice
The pandemic has proven that remote and flexible working arrangements do not necessarily diminish productivity, especially with teams working in different locations and time zones. With this, Gen Z employees appreciate companies that give them the freedom to choose their working hours. More than half (53%) of the respondents said they want flexibility in how and when they work.
However, they also acknowledge that there are downsides to not being in a physical office and not having fixed working hours. Distraction at home (40.6%), the need for more discipline (30.2%), having a hard time building relationships and networks (15.1%) are just some of the cons Gen Zers have encountered in their current work from home setup. With 7 out of 10 of the respondents not being able to be fully productive at home, it’s clear that a fully remote job won’t be a sustainable option for them.
It’s quite ironic, though, that less than 10% of Gen Z workers want to come back to work in the office full-time. 69.8% of Gen Z support hybrid working, which combines the best of remote and in-office setups. This allows them to have more choices in how, when and where they work. This then leads to the importance of creating an opportunity to offer these workers the choice, ensuring Gen Zers feel they’re heard of and seen, while also keeping them accountable for their output and performance.