Generation Z graduates prioritize work-life balance during job search

A Forbes study shows Gen Z-ers have different needs than previous generations.
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Posted at 4:22 PM, May 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-23 17:22:19-04

MILWAUKEE — The pandemic brought many challenges and changes, one being, remote learning and work. Experts say for those who learned online during the COVID-19 shutdown, now have different expectations as they enter the workforce.

"I started my entire career virtually," Becca Bell said.

In 2020, Bell was a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"The internship was supposed to be in-person and then it was transitioned online," Bell added.

She and her peers were forced to adapt to a virtual world seemingly overnight.

"Half of the girls said 'Absolutely this is not something I'm able to do. I need to be around other people, and I need to be in person.' The other half, like myself, said 'This is a best-case scenario for us.' I'm able to get my work done at home, I'm way more efficient here, and I wanna keep doing this," Bell explained.

Bell told the I-Team that a lot of her friends still work in an office. However, now, Bell works remotely for a New York-based company and still lives in the Midwest.

A Forbes report shows Generation Z graduates are prioritizing different needs while job searching.

The report shows Gen Z-ers want hybrid or remote work, stronger mental health support from employees, diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their company, and a focus on career growth.

Local professors are seeing those desires too.

"This is a generation that has a very strong social consciousness," Keimei Sugiyama said.

Sugiyama's an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She believes students who were in online school during the pandemic have shifted their viewpoints. She also said the social activism events of 2020 played a role because now she's seeing students and other Gen Z-ers looking for a career that can make an impact while completing meaningful work.

It's a new outlook Sugiyama said employers should expect.

"I think it's helpful for leaders and companies to kind of take a step back. There is value in, sort of, being able to translate that for this generation and then maybe it makes you more flexible and adaptable to re-evaluate that for yourself too," Sugiyama explained.

As new college graduates enter the workforce, for them, it's more than cashing a paycheck.

"That has since allowed me to travel home for my dad's retirement party, it has allowed me to spend summer up north while still working during the day and not taking PTO," Bell said.

A lifestyle shift toward work-life balance and a focus on self-care.

Remote work is actually less common in the Badger State compared to others, according to the Wisconsin Policy Forum. A study released in February shows about 15 percent of Wisconsinites worked from home in 2021. Nationally, it was nearly 18 percent who worked remotely.

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