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Commentary: What drives Gen Zs at work and how can bosses better engage them?

Each year, we welcome more from Generation Z (Gen Z) to the workforce. By 2025, Gen Zs will make up a quarter of Asia Pacific’s population, the same proportion as millennials.

How have Gen Z’s needs and expectations impacted their perceptions of the workplace, work culture, and leadership today?

How have Gen Z’s needs and expectations impacted their perceptions of the workplace, work culture, and leadership today?

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Each year, we welcome more from Generation Z (Gen Z) to the workforce. By 2025, Gen Zs will make up a quarter of Asia Pacific’s population, the same proportion as millennials.

As Gen Zs start to mature and become future leaders, this generation will grow to become the driving force of our economy.

For that reason, many leaders are trying to crack the code of what drives this generation and how best to engage them as we solve some of the world’s biggest challenges to secure our futures.

Some of this generation may have started working in the middle of the pandemic. With work-from-home being the default for most of the last three years, many achieved standard employment milestones, like onboarding sessions and meeting their teams for the first time, completely virtually.

It’s not news that this generation of digital natives has a completely different set of needs and expectations from the generations before them.

Already, Gen Z is showing signs of how their attitudes diverge. In a survey by professional services firm Deloitte in Singapore, 69 per cent of Gen Zs would consider seeking new job opportunities if their employers insisted on full-time on-site work.

How have Gen Z’s needs and expectations impacted their perceptions of the workplace, work culture, and leadership today?


In the latest global research on Generation Z by Dell, the technology company I work for, we sought to find out how they view the role of technology in helping us build a more resilient future, and its role in the future of work.

As digital natives, Gen Zs expect nothing less than a superior digital workspace, with only 6 per cent of respondents in Singapore saying they don’t consider technology when deciding to take a new job.

Businesses that are not able to adapt and digitally transform quickly will struggle to entice Gen Zs to join and stay in their workforce.

For Gen Zs in Singapore, the top tech considerations when evaluating a new job include the ability to have remote access to files and cloud resources (29 per cent), having a robust data protection and cybersecurity system in place (22 per cent), and a high-speed connection remotely and in the office (22 per cent). 

However, while technology can play a big role in building a Gen Z-friendly environment, Gen Zs recognise that there’s so much more to the workplace than its hardware.

They are strong believers in having an inclusive work culture — one that empowers its people to work freely where and when they want to, but also trusts them to be accountable.

More than half of our survey respondents globally consider flexible and remote work arrangements an important consideration when choosing where they want to work. The hybrid work model derived in response to the safety regulations of the pandemic has become the norm for this generation.

Most significantly, Gen Zs are not just focused on the now. 

They are ambitious, yearn for progression, and are hungry to learn and devote time to training and acquiring the digital skills that will help them advance their careers. 

In Singapore, 42 per cent of Gen Zs believe that learning new digital skills is essential to making sure they have plenty of future career options. 

Furthermore, 41 per cent of respondents want to keep acquiring new digital skills while staying in their chosen careers for the long term. 

For future employers, the work begins now. 

Employers need to offer Gen Zs a platform that supports their hunger to learn, and partner with governments and educational institutions to bring Gen Z’s ambitions to reality even before they step foot into the workforce. 

That’s not all. 

Employers must also ensure that there are continuous learning opportunities, from on-the-job training to mentorship, and skills development programmes for employees to stay relevant and competitive. 

That is what the Gen Zs are looking for. 


Flexibility and a hybrid workspace are key if we want to engage Gen Zs. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or structure. 

First, we need to redefine what flexibility means. It is not just about enabling people to work remotely as and when they see fit. 

For a generation that thrives on building culture, employers must ensure that, in spite of a decentralised workforce, teams can still maintain social bonds among teams and colleagues. 

Second, with teams working remotely, today’s leaders must create an environment of trust. Hybrid working is here to stay in Singapore, and organisations need to start optimising for this hybrid work future. 

Human resources software firm Deel’s study on global workforce trends found that Singapore is one of the top countries in Asia-Pacific hiring remote workers. 

The days of helicopter leadership are well and truly over. 

Leaders must be ready to empower and engage this new generation as they transition into a hybrid model and learn, for the first time, how to navigate both virtual and in-office work. 

As employers look to reshape their businesses, it is important to create an open and collaborative workspace by giving employees a platform to weigh in on their roles and purposes within the company. 

For example, Dell partnered with employees through a comprehensive three-part design thinking programme to identify purposeful workplace solutions for the launch of its new hybrid office in Singapore. 

Consisting of a pre-occupancy survey with team members, visioning sessions with the executives, and holistically designed focus group discussions with various members of different business units, these sessions helped identify high-priority areas which employees felt were critical to the team’s success amid a changing work landscape. 

Such two-way conversations and employee engagement allowed us to create workspaces that inspire creativity, collaboration and eventually, make employees feel heard. 

By investing in the right technology, businesses can ensure teams are well-connected to encourage innovation and collaboration no matter where your teams are situated. 


Beyond that, employers need to understand what moves and motivates Gen Zs to constantly adjust and optimise the workplace for Gen Zs.

Brimming with hopes and ambition, Gen Zs want the government to accelerate investments in digital healthcare services, sustainable infrastructure and more. 

They want to acquire new digital skills to be prepared for the digital world and harness technology to overcome the biggest societal challenges. 

Open communication is key here — Gen Zs need to do their part to articulate these to employers and work together to realise these ambitions. 

For employers, they must adopt a flexible, trusting approach to attract and retain the top Generation Z talent. 

With a strong grasp of Gen Z’s needs, employers can then work with them to shape their careers, and in turn, harness the potential of our future workforce. 

Ultimately, the future of our workforce lies in the hands of the current generation, and will be an ongoing partnership between Gen Zs, private sector companies, and the public sector to chart its future. 


Andy Sim is Vice-President & Managing Director, Singapore at Dell Technologies.

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