23 June 2024

Gen Z and their work-life balance

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By Ts Elman Mustafa El Bakri

Whether we realize it or not, a new generation of talent is reshaping the way we think about work. Generation Z, the cohort born between 1997 and 2012, is bringing fresh perspectives and values to the workplace, particularly when it comes to work-life balance. As the CEO of a recruitment agency specializing in the healthcare and medical technology industry, I’ve observed firsthand how this shift is influencing recruitment and retention strategies.

According to a December 2019 article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 26% of Gen Z representatives identified the ability to balance work and personal life as a key motivator for their work choices. This statistic highlights a departure from the priorities of previous generations, Gen X and Boomers particularly, who often placed greater emphasis on job security and financial compensation.

And Gen Z’s desire for a flexible workplace is clear. They thrive in environments that support both collaborative work and personal autonomy. Flexibility isn’t just a perk for them; it’s a necessity. They always try to find employers who offer flexible working conditions, such as remote work options and adaptable schedules, which allow them to integrate their professional responsibilities with their personal lives.

Although the Millennials, who preceded Gen Z, understood the need for work-life balance and have paved the way for these expectations, but Gen Z has taken it a step further. They even make work-life balance a non-negotiable aspect of their career choices. This generation values personal relationships and time spent outside of work, and they look up to employers who respect and support these values.

As a result, factors related to work-life balance have become paramount when Gen Z considers job opportunities in the biomedical field. This trend is something employers cannot afford to ignore. To attract and retain the best young talent, according to the same article, companies must not only offer competitive salaries and career growth opportunities, but also demonstrate a true commitment to their employees’ overall wellbeing.

Offering flexible work arrangements is important to enable Gen Z employees to balance their professional and personal commitments effectively. This flexibility can include options such as remote functionality and accessibility, flexible hours, and compressed workweeks, which allow employees to manage their time in a way that suits their lifestyle.

Transparency in work-life balance practices is essential for attracting Gen Z talent too. Companies should openly disclose their policies and practices regarding work-life balance on their websites and during the recruitment process. This transparency helps build trust and demonstrates a commitment to supporting employees’ well-being.

Recognizing the importance of mental health to Gen Z workers is crucial. Providing access to mental health services, such as on-site therapy, paid time off for self-care, and meditation spaces, can significantly enhance employee well-being. These initiatives show that the company values the mental health of its workforce and is proactive in offering support.

Companies should also focus on creating a healthy work environment that includes wellness programs, fitness facilities, and healthy food options. By prioritizing the physical and emotional well-being of employees, companies can foster a more engaged and productive workforce.

In addition to these practices, I would like to add three more strategies which I believe will complement any work-life balance initiatives. Firstly, look for ways that empower Gen Z employees to foster a sense of autonomy and control over their work. This empowerment can be achieved through initiatives such as participatory decision-making, employee-led projects, and opportunities for professional development.

Secondly, creating an innovative work environment that values diversity, passion, teamwork, and creativity aligns with the characteristics and expectations of Gen Z employees. Encouraging collaboration and providing platforms for creative expression can lead to a more dynamic and motivated workforce.

And thirdly, establishing a purpose-driven culture where employees can actively participate in noble missions and take pride in their work is highly appealing to Gen Z. Companies should articulate their mission and values clearly and involve employees in projects that have a positive impact on society. This sense of purpose can be a significant motivator for Gen Z workers, who seek meaningful and fulfilling careers.

By adopting these practices, healthcare and medical organizations can create a supportive and engaging work environment that meets the needs of their Gen Z employees. This approach not only enhances employee satisfaction and retention but also positions the company as a forward-thinking and attractive employer in the highly competitive biomedical industry.


The author is CEO and Founder of HESA Healthcare Recruitment Agency, and the Industrial Advisory Panel for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Universiti Malaya. He may be reached at elman.asia@gmail.com