The future of work: Adjusting to Gen Z & flexible working conditions
This article is a continuation of our series to spotlight trends in contract catering, this time we will dive into the future of work and Gen Z’s digital demand. You will find our latest article about AI here.
The post-pandemic behavior of remote work not only changed where and how we work, but also how employees eat during work hours. An increasingly large proportion of employees will soon be Gen Z, so their behavior is especially interesting to target. Learn more about post-pandemic food behaviors, what Gen Z is looking for and how to accustom them.
Meeting the demands and wishes of Generation Z
Let’s begin with the upcoming takeover by Generation Z, people born between 1996 and 2010. In a PWC report discussing the implications of Gen Z entering the workforce, you can read that Gen Z and millennials currently comprise around 38% of the global workforce. By 2030, it will be 58%. As they are the prominent workforce of the foreseeable future, it’s interesting to dive deeper into their wishes and demands to know what’s important to them.
Gen Z is a digital native generation born into a world where mobile phones and the internet were already present. It’s safe to say they prefer digital tools, and are technologically adept and usually socially engaging, ethnically diverse and politically engaged.
What do they look for in a job?
Flexibility is the number-one employee benefit Gen Z seeks in the workplace. They also want to share their values with the company they work for and get benefits associated with sustainability and well-being. As Gen Z is called the “foodie generation”, creating personalised food benefits will be a success factor in attracting them to the office.
A research study by global communications consultancy Ketchum examined the attitudes and beliefs of Gen Z on food. In previous research, Ketchum found that one-quarter of the population identifies as Food eVangelists, influential consumers seeking to change the food system. The newest study showed that around half of Gen Zers are classified as Food eVangelists, meaning they, indeed, are the foodie generation.
As a diverse generation, they are used to various cuisines and cultures and have an open mind to trying new things, much because they have grown up with the internet, social media, popular cooking shows on TV and influencers on TikTok.
The happy adaptation of new technologies
Gen Z is far more likely to use modern innovations like digital ordering and alcohol delivery, according to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry 2022 report. 40% of Gen Z think restaurants should incorporate more technology, compared to 25% of all adults.
Robots, self-driving cars, drones; Gen Z doesn’t mind. 64% of them actually say they’d prefer to get their food delivered like this. Having a robot preparing the meal? No problem, either. Around 65% of Gen Z said that would be okay, but only 38% of all adults agreed.
72% of Gen Z consider on-site cafeterias when choosing employers
Regardless of what generation you cater to, employees have new and higher demands, and contract caterers and food services around the globe must adjust accordingly. Today’s workforce, especially Gen Z, seek benefits to simplify their everyday lives, like getting ready-packed grocery bags or a convenience store at the office. To attract and keep top talent, the office and food benefits must be so attractive that the employees want to visit the office. The food experiences should both inspire and facilitate employees’ need for sustainability and well-being.
In the Global Eating at Work Survey, Compass Group and Mintel explore Gen Z workers’ preferences for enhanced well-being, sustainability, and digital benefits in the workplace. The survey reached some interesting conclusions, like:
■ 72% of Gen Z view an on-site cafeteria as a positive factor when evaluating potential employers
■ 68% of Gen Z preferred app-based food and drink ordering, compared to 23% of Baby Boomers
■ 81% of Gen Z and Millennials advocate for free or subsidized workplace meals due to meet rising living expenses
■ 81% of Gen Z believes that proper lunch breaks enhance productivity
Adjusting to the future of work
Flexibility is such a crucial factor that, according to McKinsey, 29% are willing to switch jobs if employers insist they can’t work remotely. However, it is essential to note that not all jobs and tasks can be done remotely. Another McKinsey report stated that today, around 20-25% of advanced economy workforces could work remotely several days a week, but around half the workforce lacks this option. In emerging economies, employment is skewed toward physical and manual occupations.
The 2023 Global Eating at Work Survey by Compass Group and Mintel revealed that most responding workers know how their eating habits affect their productivity and that eating healthy is crucial for their health. Employees who work from home are more likely to eat indulgent foods and work longer hours than their colleagues working from the office.
Besides the risk of indulging in snacks, you can’t argue with the fact that the physical office offers something the home environment can’t – a sense of belonging. Even though flexible hours are attractive, physical offices offer fulfillment and essential interactions with colleagues that are just as important to employees’ well-being as having flexible hours.
To attract Gen Z in the future, flexible hours, technological solutions, office catering, and on-site cafeterias are part of the solution. Sustainability is also vital, as most generations expect their workplace to promote sustainable practices actively. Additionally, younger employees advocate for healthier, plant-based food choices.
Gen Z’s demands emphasize food options, sustainability efforts, and digital integration in the workplace, making these considerations critical for attracting and retaining talent. Offering food benefits like healthier snacks and interesting plant-based food makes it easier for employees to stay healthy, and it will be a great initiative to come into the office.