Managing Gen Z in the Workplace

Workforce Management

In this day and age, having a multigenerational workforce is commonplace, but managing various generations can be challenging. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing such a diverse workforce.

Everything from technology and education to the economy and parenting styles affects how the youngest generation operates in the workplace. Employers often wrongly believe that the same management style can effectively apply to all young employees, from Gen Y to Generation Z, but this is not the case.

Most are aware that older generations have a much different mentality than that of younger generations, but there are, in fact, also major distinguishing factors between the younger generations as well.

To execute effective leadership, leaders need to understand the varying learning styles and expectations of all their employees.

The co-founder and CEO of Tallo, a platform that links young talent with career advancement opportunities, stated that approaching Millennials and Generation Z employees as a collective group is a common and significant mistake business leaders make.

In reality, leaders should no more liken Gen Zers to millennials than they would liken baby boomers to Gen Xers. As the new generation enters the workforce, it is essential that business leaders learn to recognize the differences and similarities between Generation Y and Gen Z employees.

Who is Generation Z?

Also referred to as Digital Natives, Generation Z was born between approximately 1996 and 2012, so members of this generation fall within the age range of ten and 26. Generation Z is also the most populous generation and is fast becoming the most influential generation as well.

As of today, you have likely noticed the Gen Z workforce manifesting in entry-level positions and internships. As Gen Z employees will become all the more prominent in the coming years, HR teams and managers have to start considering how to work with their youngest employees and what they will expect from employers.

Managing Gen Z in the Workplace Managing Gen Z in the Workplace

What Are the Differences Between Millennials and Gen Z Employees?

Millennial Employees:

  • Prefer working in collaborative environments
  • Optimistic individuals because of motivational parents who thrived in a prosperous time
  • Witnesses of the digital revolution (internet, social media, and instant messaging) and, thus, technological pioneers
  • Grew up in a social environment where everyone shared their opinions, thoughts, and life events
  • Have little patience for slow-moving careers and known to job hop frequently
  • Focused on progression
  • Desire having a healthy work-life balance

Gen Z Employees

  • Prefer working in privacy rather than sharing spaces
  • Realistic perspectives because of growing up in a time of recession with skeptical role models
  • Are constantly connected due to growing up in the digital age
  • More selective and cautious regarding what they post online
  • Learn better with on-demand educational alternatives, such as hands-on training and YouTube Tutorials
  • Prefer hopping between roles and acquiring new skills by completing projects that don’t fall within their job description
  • Focused on innovation
  • Prefer flexible work schedules

Managing Generation Z in the Workplace

As Gen Z employees are slowly joining the workforce, managers and leaders need to learn how to create a work environment that attracts Gen Zers and promotes employee engagement despite the generational differences in the organization.

Team Communication and Collaboration

Gen X employees value social interactions to a great extent. In fact, according to a generation survey by Yello, over 50% of Gen Zers prefers talking to family, friend, and peers in person rather than via digital means.

However, they are still “digital natives,” so managers need to ensure a healthy hybrid of in-person and digital communication for the youngest generation.

Here are a few tips on how to keep Gen Z employees engaged and optimistic about their work lives:

  • When meeting online, opt for video calls rather than phone calls.
  • Arrange frequent in-person meetings, if possible, to maintain a human connection between co-workers.
  • As Gen Zers prefer to receive feedback frequently, be sure to communicate often and execute regular performance reviews.
  • Encourage social activities and team-bonding events to unite the most diverse generation as one.
  • For day-to-day communication, Gen Z employees prefer texts, emails, and social media messages.

A Gen Z employee is sure to stay engaged and committed if their screen time is interrupted by sporadic in-person interactions. To ensure clear communication, implement accessible scheduling software to easily arrange online and in-person meetings.

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Job Stability and Benefits

Whereas Millennials are more focused on career development and productive advancements, Gen Z employees are highly motivated by monetary benefits and job security.

Many Gen Zers value financial security much more than other generations, as watching their parents struggle through the difficult financial times following the 2008 recession made them aware of the dangers of debt and financial lack.

Gen Z’s expectations regarding employee benefits and job perks are high, so if you want these young people to stay engaged in the organization, this should be a priority.

Below are some tips on how to keep Gen Z employees engaged and satisfied in the workplace:

  • Offer Gen Zers medical aid, student loan assistance, compensation benefits, mental health benefits, and paternity and maternity benefits.
  • Offer Gen Zers flexible schedules, as some may wish to work some days remotely while other prefers going to an office.
  • Be prepared to negotiate with Generation Z employees, as they won’t likely settle for a salary if they think they’re worth more.

Promote a Culture of Unwinding and Offer Flexibility

Millennials were the first generation to challenge traditional workplace conventions by demanding more flexibility, and Gen Zers are taking this a step further.

If you want to avoid a high employee turnover and attract Digital Natives to your organization, ensure your managers follow these guidelines:

  • Offer flexible schedules and working hours and promote a healthy work-life balance.
  • Offer career development opportunities and allow employees to work remotely.
  • Respect your employees’ personal time and encourage them to unwind.
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Promote Career Advancement

Whereas millennials are notorious job hoppers, Generation Z desires job stability, which is good news for organizations that want to invest in their workforce and reap the benefits of their efforts.

So although Gen Zers aren’t adamant about climbing the corporate ladder, they still want to feel like they’re growing and advancing professionally.

If Gen Zers notice that there are no career advancement opportunities where they are, they are likely to walk away. Internal mobility is a priority for Gen Z employees, so organizations need to ensure their employees feel respected and valued enough to invest in.

Even new employees will expect a promotion within their first year of employment, so managers need to keep the following in mind:

  • Does the organization have a Learning and Development plan in place?
  • How does the organization promote its employees from within?
  • How does the organization give its youngest employees a sense of ownership and responsibility?
  • What does the organization do to ensure professional development in each employee?

Promote Diversity and Inclusion

One of the most important things to consider when you manage Gen Z employees is that they value diversity and inclusion above all else. For them, nothing is more important than knowing an organization works with people from different cultures and educational backgrounds that offer various skills.

Gen Zers automatically find an organization more attractive if it is diverse and has an inclusive and accepting company culture.

Embrace and Utilize New Technology

Gen Zs and technology go hand in hand. The newest generation never knew a time when the internet and social media weren’t part of their daily lives, and managers need to acknowledge the importance and influence technology has on their workforce.

Gen Zers expect technology to fit into their lives seamlessly, including their work lives. Therefore, things like slow wifi and outdated platforms will undoubtedly cause some frustration among Gen Z employees.

You need to ensure technology integrates smoothly into the workplace and all its operations to satisfy the need of Gen Z for productivity and interaction.

Below are a few tips on how you can incorporate innovative technology into the workplace:

  • Implement tools for instant messaging
  • Make use of virtual reality and wearables for training and onboarding
  • Give employees access to a wide range of online courses
  • Create an app so employees can communicate internally
  • Host workshops to promote productivity both at home and in the office

The Gen Z workforce is a leading advocate of the latest tools and stacks to increase productivity, so embracing such innovations will only drive your organization forward in the ever-changing business world.

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Help Gen Z Employees Maintain Good Mental Health

The youngest generation is much more geared toward mental health and managing their stress levels, so if you want to manage generation Z employees effectively, you will need to pay a great deal of attention to this aspect of their wellbeing.

The three things that tend to be the most significant sources of stress among Gen Z employees include job stability, money, and the work itself.

Managers who fail to address these issues may be causing lower productivity levels, high healthcare expenses, and an increase in accidents and sick leave.

Managers must consider the following tips to avoid problems relating to stress:

  • Offer competitive salaries
  • Implement more vacation days
  • Encourage employees to unwind every now and again
  • Ensure employees are getting ample sleep and rest

Managers must be proactive in dealing with issues in the workplace to ensure a positive company culture and satisfied employees. If Gen Zers feel that the organization cares for their wellbeing, they’re more likely to be more productive and finish projects more time-efficiently.

Listen to Generation Z Employees

One of the greatest concerns among Gen Z employees is ageism. The young people of today are sensitive toward opportunities being given to older generations when they are just as competent to take on new responsibilities.

Gen Zers believe that new responsibilities and promotions must be based on contributions and ideas rather than age or experience.

To ensure your Gen Z employees feel valued and heard, follow these guidelines:

  • Listen and consider their ideas concerning the organization as a whole
  • Invite Gen Zers to meetings about strategy
  • Regard their ideas and insights with the same weight as you would those with years of experience
  • Treat them with the same respect you would treat any senior employee