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I want it that way: Gen Z talent reveals what they want from employers

August 2, 2022
iCIMS Staff
7 min read

What is the future of work? It’s getting harder to predict in this ever-evolving business landscape. But if the expectations of recent college graduates are any indication, the struggle is about to get real.  

Entry-level hiring is on the rise with 54% of HR professionals saying they’re hiring more than last year however, some of today’s candidates aren’t on the same page in terms of what they want from an employer during the hiring process and in the workplace. U.S. college seniors, for example, expect salaries 20% higher than what many organizations plan to pay. 

These new expectations and evolving priorities can make it hard for talent acquisition experts to anticipate and address the needs of potential hires, especially those graduating and starting their careers during the pandemic.   

So, what does the next generation of the workforce want from employers? We dug into that wish list in our most recent research. We looked at how recent college graduates are finding their way in today’s workforce in the U.S. and France in our  Class of COVID-19 and Promo COVID reports.  And we delved into job sentiment in our U.K. State of Talent report. Combined, these reports offer a broad view of global perspectives on work, and the findings may surprise you.   

Get a better understanding of the next generation of our workforce. Read the iCIMS Class of COVID-19 report. Get a better understanding of the next generation of our workforce. Read the iCIMS Class of COVID-19 report.  


What today’s workforce wants

Let’s explore what job seekers’ expectations could mean for the future of work: 

  1. Homeward bound? In the U.S., 59% of employees work remotely. But that may not be the preference of the newest class of employees. Our research found that although 69% of college seniors and grads in the U.S. would like to work remotely, 90% would still be willing to go into the office.  still be willing to go into the office.  

The desire to be onsite is even greater globally. Seventy percent of survey respondents in the U.K. said they work onsite, and 31% prefer being there full-time. In France, just over half of students and graduates (54%) prefer hybrid working environments, and 8% of recent graduates expect to work fully remote. 

Employees need modern technology and processes to be productive and connected regardless of where work occurs. When employees are in the office, employers should ensure those visits are purposeful – whether for training and development, collaboration with coworkers, or to team build and network with peers. These activities can be challenging in a remote setting and go a long way towards introducing and incorporating new employees into the company culture.                    

  1. Working 9-5: Whether  today’s job seekers prefer to work at home or in the office, they still have different expectations of how work will fit into their lives. Around the globe, people see themselves as working to live versus living to work, with an increased emphasis on work-life balance.  

Thirty-six percent of graduates in France want to prioritize personal time. Flexibility is still essential, but only 19% of those surveyed in the U.K. and 6% in the U.S. indicated that they would seek new work because of a lack of flexibility in their current roles.  

The evolution of work and digital transformation will require leaders to rethink what work and productivity look like. They will also need to help employees develop the soft, technical, and transferable skills necessary to keep the workforce moving forward.  

  1. Should I stay, or should I go? Despite the continued fallout from the Great Resignation, the new wave of young workers isn’t already planning its next career move. In the U.S, 91% of recent grads and college seniors care about how long they stay with an employer. In addition, 68% in the U.S. and 61% in the U.K. envision sticking with their employer and developing long-term careers. While 25% of French candidates agree they want a place where they can settle in, they’ll only do it if advancement opportunities exist within the organization.  

For all the talk about job-hopping youngsters, our survey found that older workers were most likely to consider switching employers. 

Talent acquisition leaders and hiring managers might note that new employees want to stay and succeed. Organizations can make that easier with recruiting, onboarding, and talent mobility strategies that use AI, automation, and communication tools.  

  1. What you value: One aspect that heavily influences whether an employee will stay, or even apply, is value alignment. Two-thirds of U.S. job seekers want to be personally aligned with a company’s mission and values when filling out an application. This mindset is similar in France, where candidates say they must believe in a company’s principles to apply.  

As talent acquisition leaders recruit, and hiring managers seek to retain, they should reinforce the organization’s mission and how the individual jobs contribute to that purpose. 

  1. A focus on the whole self: The emphasis on wellbeing, including physical and mental health, has escalated in the last two years, with younger candidates and employees making it a priority. Sixty-seven percent of college seniors and grads in the U.S. expect their companies to be involved in mental health discussions and provide support.  

That’s also true in the U.K., where 31% of those surveyed expect employers to provide mental health support, and in France, 38% of new grads feel the same. More tellingly, 35% of adults in the U.K. and 36% in France expect to be able to talk about mental health openly in the office.  

In our survey, talent acquisition leaders indicated that today’s entry-level job candidates had unrealistic expectations about job flexibility, starting salary, and culture. Yet the candidates conveyed strong positions on what mattered to them and what they needed to thrive within a role.  


The hiring process is the first step of a person’s potential career, and the experience they have sets the tone. Companies that prioritize creating an open dialogue around career growth, mobility, and mission – from the beginning – will have a greater chance at winning the hearts of their new, younger employees. Regular touchpoints from HR and hiring managers can facilitate these conversations and help employees begin their search for their next opportunity within their company.  

Learn more about the next generation of our workforce. Read the iCIMS Class of COVID-19 report.  

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