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2024 Best Companies to Work For: Gen Z has their say

2024 Best Companies to Work For: Gen Z has their say


Much like jumbo shrimp or a cool goatee, the concept of a great place to work has become somewhat of an oxymoron. And few are as skeptical of modern work culture as the youngest generation of workers—Gen Zers, the oldest of whom are approaching 30. The early pandemic mass layoffs were simply a formative experience for them.

There’s nothing like the bitter smack of a global pandemic to make everyone question their relationship with their employers, the norms of the traditional workplace, and even the purpose of working in the first place.

I think the ‘good place to work’ doesn’t exist anymore. And people, at least in my generation, understand that,” Ayem Kpenkaan, a 25-year-old former software engineer turned viral content creator, tells Fortune.

“Companies aren’t necessarily going to be your friend. They’re really there for the bottom line, which is to make profit,” Kimi Kaneshina, 25, says. Navigating her own recent layoff—Kaneshina was a product manager for a software company—she explains that while the current workforce climate made her “jaded,” it’s perhaps good that she’s “learning this lesson earlier on than maybe some of [her] millennial counterparts.”

Watching the bulk of their working (or educational) life consumed by the pandemic has radically shaped the expectations of the generation whose oldest members turn 27 this year and whose youngest cohort is still in college or finishing high school. The workforce of the future is pondering the concept of “greatness.”

Even so, Gen Z has bills to pay. Warily entering the workforce in search of a livable wage, the next generation of workers is navigating conflicting impulses. In an unstable world, stability has become the hallmark of a good employer, but a truly great place to work also offers flexibility and a healthy respect for individuality to boot. And the youngest workers seem to really hate being micromanaged. Among the 10 leaders on this year’s Best Companies to Work For list, employees’ comments focused overwhelmingly on their own sense of autonomy. So the whole idea of greatness at work … well, it’s complicated.

More than stability

First, the shell-shocked generation craves stability. Two-thirds of Gen Z won’t employer who doesn’t offer a 401(k), according to Handshake, a job board for college students and early-career professionals. The youngest generation’s anxiety about their future is informed by older…

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