Survey says Generation Z expects promotions within 6-12 months – here’s how to manage them

Generation Z is “actually kind of a self-actualized generation. They’re pragmatic. They’re willing to work hard.” But are they entitled?

Generation Z, who just began to enter the workforce in 2017, expects promotions within 6-12 months and constant feedback, according to a survey from workplace coaching company InsideOut Development.  The survey polled over 1,000 people ages 18-23 across the U.S. on what this generation expects from work. Gen Z refers to people born between 1996-2010.

Here were some of the findings, with commentary from InsideOut Development CEO Bill Bennett.


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!


  • 75% think they should get a promotion after a year, and 32% believe a promotion is in order after 6 months. It’s not as entitled as it sounds, says Bennett. “The drive for the promotion comes from probably the interest in accelerating their income. I think there’s a good chance it means something different to Gen Z than it means to Boomers or Gen Xers, where promotion is just advancement.  

“If you think about promotion in a traditional sense, I think that expectation is not going to be met that 75% in the first year, a third of them in the first six months [will be promoted],” says Bennett. “But as an employer in this day and age, if you want to keep Gen Z engaged, create more opportunities for expansion of responsibility and impact, and that’s going to meet the need. Revisit it constantly.”

Times have changed, and people expect feedback and results sooner. “It’s not as it was in my era coming up,” he adds. “I’m a Boomer, and when I got my first job at a big corporation, it was “We’ll see you in two years and see how you’ve done.” 

  • 75% of Generation Z want managers who can act like a coach.  Generation Z is “actually kind of a self-actualized generation,” says Bennett. “They’re pragmatic. They’re willing to work hard. We’ve got 88% of them said that they expect that they’re going to have to possibly put in more hours and extra efforts in order to get where they want to go, but what they’re looking to their manager for called out very specifically is coaching.”

That’s not to say they want someone to do all the work for them: “They want training, too… but what they’re looking for a manager to say is help them course-correct along the way.” Bennett, who is CEO of a workplace coaching company, does think managers should step up to the plate. “I think it’s an expectation,” he says. “I think they should all do it.”

  • While 80% believe they need at least a Bachelor’s degree in order to land their dream job, only 30% are “confident” they’ll be able to repay their student loans. Gen Z’s pragmatism and desire for a stable job is influenced by seeing their parents go through the Great Recession. “One of the major things is that given their age, they’re coming to the workforce having had experience with the economic downturns in the latter part of the 2000s, and seeing anywhere from light to stark impacts upon their families,” says Bennett. “Consequently, having a secure job actually was kind of a dramatic stat.”

Other findings

  • 64% believe that making diversity and inclusion a top priority is necessary to being a good boss
  • 71% expect frequent communication with their boss
  • 41% want public praise and recognition from their manager
  • 60% hope to be in managerial positions someday
  • 25% would leave an organization if they had a boss who managed through fear – it’s the most likely thing that will make them leave a company, over a boss who steals credit, micromanages, or has unrealistic expectations

How to manage Gen Z in the workplace

  1. Put me in, coach. Managers should “Learn to coach, and understand what coaching means,” says Bennett. “To a lot of leaders, coaching is constant telling and information download, and that’s not what they’re looking for. They do want training, but good coaching, which is really helping individuals discover the issues and solve the problems for themselves with you sort of being a Sherpa to help them along the journey as opposed to the all-wise leader to tell them what they’re doing wrong is a critical trait. If you want to engage these folks, learn how to do that.”
  2. Never rule by fear. “They’re not going to respond well to fear,” says Bennett. “Threats and drawing lines in the sand and ‘do this or else’ isn’t going to get their back or their heart. These are people that are coming to the workforce with an increased desire to work hard. I think we’re going to find they’re going to be a good, productive generation, but know as a leader how to take advantage of that… not leading through fear.”
  3. Constant – yes, constant – feedback. “Finally, I’d say constant feedback,” says Bennett. “Look at that in a positive light, not a negative light. There’s easy, free, fast ways to just drop in on someone and give them feedback on what you see them doing that is going to keep those energies directed and motivation strong. They’re looking for stability. They’re going to be loyal. I don’t think their need for feedback is a whole lot different than a lot of other generations. I think they’re just out there asking for it, and putting it on the table where some others might have wanted to it, but never said it. But they’re vocal about their needs. And it’s a good thing to do.”

You might also enjoy…

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.