As a CPA firm, we get a unique look into a lot of businesses. We get to see behind the curtain and analyze the inner workings. As we offer accounting services to a wide variety of startups, we start to see trends and commonalities emerge.
That’s been especially interesting as we’ve watched Generation Z come up in the workforce. Gen Z, also aptly called zoomers, never knew a world without mobile phones and social media. And that has distinctly shaped how they engage with their employers, how they perform their job duties, and what they expect in the workplace.
Studies show that Gen Zers are willing to take less pay in exchange for more stimulating work. That doesn’t mean they’re letting employers off the hook, though. Quite the opposite, in fact. They want globally conscious employers willing to personalize their career journeys. And they want flexible work environments that prioritize their wellbeing.
Specifically, across startups, we’ve seen three areas where Gen Z is shaking things up: benefits, expenses, and device management.
The benefits they expect
First, let’s look at some of the benefits that Gen Z expects from even tiny startups in their earliest stages:
- The basics, for sure. Growing up in the wake of the Great Recession, zoomers know what financial hardship looks like. They want to know that if they needed healthcare, they could get it. And they generally expect your healthcare plan to include vision and dental, too. This might seem overwhelming as a small startup, but there are provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that can help. If you have fewer than 25 full-time employees, for example, you might qualify for a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
- Paid time off. It might be time to get flexible here. To meet Gen Z’s demand for ample vacation, some startups offer unlimited paid time off (PTO). Before you panic, studies show that employees may actually take fewer vacation days with this option. The key is to ensure you have a clearly defined process for requesting PTO and a highly visible system in place for tracking those days off.
- Benefits to support their wellbeing. If you can design your benefits package to support your employees even when they’re not working, you’ll generally have an easier time attracting and retaining good talent. This could be a monthly stipend for the physical activity of their choice, allowing them to buy a gym membership, equipment to use at home, a yoga studio class pass, or whatever else suits their fancy. More and more startups also offer benefits to cover mental healthcare, like access to a solution like BetterHelp or Talkspace.
- Support if they grow their family. A handful of weeks of maternity leave — with little to show in the way of paternity leave — isn’t enough. While Gen Zers will likely wait longer to have kids like the millennials before them, they want to see that an employer will support their family growth. That might look like longer leave, benefits to cover infertility treatment, or financial support for adoption.
The expenses they want reimbursed
Zoomers expect the same expense reimbursement as previous generations — and then some. Yes, your startup will still need to cover business travel. But your Gen Z employees may also expect coverage in the following areas:
- Their preferred devices. We’ll get more into devices in a bit, but it’s safe to say that Gen Z wants to be able to use their devices of choice. And if your company doesn’t already provide it (e.g., you gave them a laptop, but they like a tablet for meetings at offsite locations), they may expect reimbursement for the extra tech they use for work.
- Professional development. Gen Z craves the ability to continually expand their knowledge base and skillsets. If your startup doesn’t offer professional development internally, consider offering reimbursement for trainings, seminars, etc.
- Connection with their team. They might be called zoomers, but that doesn’t mean they want to do everything over Zoom. Many Gen Zers (here’s to the extroverts) want to be able to foster social connections with their coworkers. And that’s generally a lot easier to do outside the office. You may want to explore a reimbursement for managers to take their team out to a meal or an event periodically to allow your team to bond.
- Home office setups. If you offer hybrid or remote work, your team needs a way to do their best work at home. Plan to offer a stipend to get their home office established. That could be a lump sum they can use however they want, or a specific reimbursement limit for individual items ($X for a chair, $Y for a desk, $Z for a keyboard).
The way they manage devices
As true digital natives, Gen Z expects a seamless, high-functioning experience when it comes to their company-issued tech.
For starters, the days of giving all of your employees the same computer — and expecting that to serve as their sole device — are over. As we mentioned earlier, some employees might prefer the use of a tablet in certain situations. Or they might need a device with touchscreen capabilities.
That means your team will likely operate on multiple different devices. And they’re still going to expect a seamless experience across all of them. With options like a single sign-on service, you can ensure they can access what they need on their home office computer, their computer at work, and their mobile devices.
Gen Z is new to the workforce, so these are just early ripples. By watching these signs now, you can position your startup well to move with zoomers’ expectations of their employers.
Ultimately, a lot of these expectations will cost your startup money. But planning for that spend can help you be strategic about what you offer when, giving you the biggest impact for the least investment.
For help there, talk to our team at ShayCPA. We’ve helped a range of startups to budget the costs of attracting and retaining talented Gen Zers in today’s workforce. Want to learn more? contact us.