For the first time, four generations are in the workforce. Generally speaking, from ‘set in their ways’ Boomers to ‘self-sufficient’ Gen Xers, each generation comes with its own idiosyncrasies, values, and needs.
The newest generation to enter the workforce is Gen Z. And with it, a whole new set of managerial challenges, not to mention new employee expectations.
If you’re overseeing a team filled with multiple generations, you may have found that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t working. Indeed, you may be struggling to wrap your head around what makes your Gen Z employees tick and why they wildly differ from older employees.
Here we decode Gen Z and show how you can successfully manage and motivate this young generation that is just coming of professional age.
What is Gen Z?
Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z (or ‘Zoomers’) are essentially the offspring of Gen X. Unlike their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up with the internet, social media, mobile phone, and portable device access.
Dubbed ‘digital natives’, statistics show that the average Gen Zer got their first smartphone before their 12th birthday. Highly tech-savvy and the most ethnically diverse generation, Gen Zers care deeply about social and environmental issues.
Given the availability of digital tools at their fingertips from such a young age, Gen Z is very collaborative and globally minded.
What Gen Z values in the workplace: the facts and figures
Studies show that what Gen Zers value in the workplace radically differs from previous generations. Priorities have shifted and knowing these are key to understanding what motivates them – and how to manage them.
When eyeing up potential employers, 95% of Gen Zers surveyed prioritised valuing who they worked with more than their salary, with 94% citing that was important. This is the first time a generation has yet to rate pay as the most important factor when considering employers.
Career progression is significant, with 83% of Gen Zers saying they would leave a company if they did not have the right opportunities for professional advancement.
A landmark iCIMS survey of recent graduates entering the workforce revealed what they crave the most in their future careers.
47% wanted mental health support.
43% wanted to discuss mental health in the office openly.
41% wanted their company to be engaged with social issues they support.
34% wanted virtual interaction to be the norm.
22% wanted cryptocurrency as a compensation option.
While Millennials paved the way for more flexible work-life balance options, Gen Z often expects options to work from home, so you may consider how you can understand and meet these needs.
How to manage your Gen Z workforce
1 Demonstrate that your company values diversity
Being the most diverse generation ever, Gen Z are often great champions of diversity, be it race, gender or sexuality. Not only do they frequently vocalise their social justice activism on their social channels, Gen Zers appreciate companies that showcase inclusive credentials.
To align with many of your Gen Z teams’ values, you could consider cultivating a culture that promotes employee diversity. Any inclusivity strategy shouldn’t be superficial, it should create meaningful positive change. Diversity training programs can be helpful and ensure that every voice is welcome, heard, and respected.
2 Show you care about mental health and personal wellbeing
Since almost half of Gen Zers want mental health support available at work, this requirement may need to be a consideration. As their manager, it may be beneficial to make yourself available for monthly mental health check-ins with your team individually. This can be a safe space for them to discuss any issues.
Encourage team members to look out for each other and foster an environment where it’s OK to speak up if team members feel like they’re struggling mentally. EAP and wellbeing programs may be an important consideration.
3 Leverage the expertise of older generations to mentor Gen Z
The workplace can be a generational battleground, but it needn’t be. There’s plenty Gen Zers can learn from Gen Xers and vice-versa. One Deloitte report recommends leveraging the expertise of Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers to help mentor Gen Z into strong leaders.
By creating an environment of positive mentorship (rather than strict management), Gen Zers will be more responsive and engaged. Indeed, you could even establish reverse mentoring programs where Gen Z can share their valuable skills, just as older generations can share theirs.
4 Encourage face-to-face interactions
For any young person entering the workforce, much of what they learn (both professionally and socially) is through interacting with other colleagues. Given that much of Gen Z’s early career has been spent working from home due to the pandemic, a large chunk of this generation has missed out on those all-important formative opportunities to collaborate and skill up.
Gen Z’s like social interaction, so in-person interactions can enhance their personal development. Consider scheduling team strategy sessions and social events to build confidence and connection. As their manager, building strong relationships with your Gen Z team through one-on-one meetings and conversations can prove beneficial.
5 Use tech to your (and their) advantage
Gen Z grew up with tech. They live and breathe it better than any other generation, so adopt tech that helps streamline workflow for everyone. Communication and organisation platforms like Slack, Asana and Trello are beneficial, and Gen Z will be more than willing to use them.
Gen Z are social media pros, so put their skills to use when it comes to digital marketing across YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook. When meetings don’t need to be in person, use Zoom and Teams for group get-togethers and brainstorms.
Keep in mind that other generations may not be as tech-savvy so offering training and change management programs to help organisation-wide may be beneficial.
6 Provide plenty of opportunities to train and progress
Gen Z are typically an ambitious lot, with 76% seeing skill-building as the way to advance their careers. Their dedication and enthusiasm are assets to your team, so reward that and build loyalty with ample opportunities to learn, grow and progress.
In-house training programs, online learning platforms and one-on-one coaching are a few ideas from which your Gen Zers would benefit. Perhaps they could shadow more senior employees for a day? Or, seeing as they love tech, some e-learning courses?
Gen Z loves to work independently, so as well as offering up plenty of training, a balance with autonomous work that will allow their creativity and entrepreneurial talents to shine.
1 Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z are highly tech-savvy, the most ethnically diverse generation and care deeply about social and environmental issues.
2 In the workplace, Gen Z has high expectations. Gen Zers value mental health support, diversity and inclusion, flexible working options and the ability to learn and further their careers.
3 Cultivate a working culture that celebrates inclusion by establishing diversity training programs.
4 Show you care about mental health by making yourself available for monthly check-ins or initiating a corporate wellbeing program.
5 Leverage the skills of older generations to mentor Gen Z to help their professional development. Gen Z could also share their skills with older generations.
6 Increase opportunities for face-to-face interactions with strategy sessions, after-hours social events and one-on-one meetings.
7 Introduce workflow-enhancing tech organisation platforms like Slack, Asana and Trello, social media channels and video conferencing platforms.
8 Introduce in-house training programs, online learning platforms and one-on-one coaching to support Gen Zers’ professional growth.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.