United Minds

While Gen Zers are strongly interested in climbing the corporate ladder, they’d prefer the option of making that climb from home, according to a new survey from Weber Shandwick’s United Minds consultancy and KRC Research.

“Workforce or Workforced?" polled 1,049 employed U.S. adults 18 years and older on their philosophies about work (work to live vs. live to work); management aspirations; preferences regarding in-person or remote settings; willingness to go above and beyond a job description; and how to rank things like compensation, professional development, title, impact, flexibility, recognition and benefits.

Almost four out of ten Gen Zers surveyed (38 percent) said that they aspire to be the CEO of the company they work for, with 37 percent saying they’d like to head up a team. Older generations were not nearly as ambitious, with only 18 percent of Gen Xers and 21 percent of Boomers having their eyes on the CEO spot.

However, younger respondents were considerably more likely to prioritize a positive work/life balance, with 39 percent of Gen Zers saying that “doing only what they must” was their strategy. That number drops to 30 percent for Millennials, 16 percent for Gen X and seven percent for Boomers.

Gen Z also puts the greatest premium on being able to work from home. More than half (58 percent) said they value that flexibility, while only 44 percent of Boomers said the same. But respondents as a whole still think the physical workplace is here to stay, with nearly seven out of 10 believing in-person connection should be required all or at least part of the time.

Even though the youngest generation of workers has big expectations they aren’t all that optimistic about whether or not those goals can be achieved. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Gen Zers see the gap between what they want at work and what they get as “insurmountable” or “significant.” Other generations are more likely to describe the gap as “manageable” (Millennials, 45 percent; Gen X, 47 percent; Boomers, 63 percent).

“We watched Gen Z enter the workforce mid-pandemic, and for better or for worse, they’ve come through that experience with a mindset of prioritizing flexibility and opportunity all the way to the boardroom,” United Minds CEO Kate Bullinger said. “In retiring the 9-to-5 in-office grind, this generation of talent is poised to create change and hopefully establish a new blueprint for future generations.”

The “Workforce or Workforced?” survey was conducted from August 19 to 24, 2022.