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Tips on How to Understand and Manage Generation Z

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

“My goals are to travel and become a founder of an organization to help people.” –Anonymous Female, 14

As the current business landscape evolves, more and more businesses are having to adapt to the needs of Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2012, Gen Z is unique and socially complex relative to other generations in terms of its technological savvy, work ethic, and values. Therein, gen Zers, who are now entering the workforce, have different expectations and needs than previous generations. In order to effectively manage Gen Z employees, you must first understand what makes them tick. This blog post will outline tips on successfully managing this new generation of workers.

Who are the Zoomers?

Generation Z, also known as Gen Zers, Zoomers, iGen, or postmillennial, is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid to late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as the ending birth years.

 Traits attributed to Generation Z:

  • Are well-educated.
  • Value family and societal change.
  • Value money, stability, and career advancement
  • Unaware of life before smartphones.
  • Born into the digital era

Gen Zers are often criticized as lazy as many don’t have after-school or summer employment. However, many Gen Zers earn money in ways that previous generations would consider unconventional. For instance, Gen Zers make significant income from online activities such as YouTube channels, social retail, ecommerce and gaming forums. This example demonstrates one of the many contrasts between Zoomers and previous generations.

According to Management Is A Journey, 16 critical events have shaped individual Gen-Zers (to varying degrees) views, attitudes, and perceptions:

    1. Terrorism and War,
    2. Social Networking
    3. Smart Phones/Mobile First
    4. Great Recession
    5. Text Messaging
    6. Gun Violence
    7. Election of Barack Obama
    8. Shared Family Responsibilities
    9. Climate Change
    10. Always Wired Connectivity
    11. Volunteerism
    12. Corporate Social Responsibility
    13. Arab Spring Democracy Movements
    14. Gender Equality
    15. Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
    16. CoronaVirus Pandemic

Communicating With Gen Z

Gen Z is the Generation that never experienced dial-up internet, newspapers, or life without cell phones. Instead, they grew up knowing that communication is possible with anyone, anywhere, at any time. This dynamic is one of the defining features of this Generation versus previous cohorts.

Many Gen Zers entering the workforce are concerned about their ability to communicate and build interpersonal relationships. In addition, there is self-realization among many Zoomers that technology has shaped their social and cognitive skill development differently than older adults.

In their daily-personal life gen Zers often prefer to communicate via text messages and video calls on social media platforms. However, this is not the case in the workplace. Rather, gen Z-ers prefer in-person communication as they want to be taken seriously by their coworkers and supervisors.

Gen Zed Expects Authenticity

Having frank and transparent conversations with gen Z employees is the key to winning their trust and commitment. Moreover, this is also why they prefer in-person communication, as it is easier to sense whether someone is genuine or not.

Blending in-person and digital communication is an excellent approach to connecting with Zoomers. For instance, communicate through a company app or a cross-platform messaging service such as WhatsApp, telegram, slack, or WeChat. Further, employers should view it as an opportunity to establish a virtual and personal connection with young adults by appealing to their digitally-driven comfort zones.

Gen Z Workplace Concerns

There is an apparent demand among Zoomers for more flexible working arrangements. As of May 2022, 66% work remotely as part of their regular schedule (Axios). The reasons why gen-Zers prefers to work remotely include:

  • Allows them to save time and money versus commuting
  • Frees time in their schedule to balance personal and professional obligations
  • Enables them to spend more time with family

Companies recruiting the next generation of talent may need to consider remote work benefits over pay.

Generation Z & Mental Health Awareness

Gen Zs are more stressed and anxious than previous generations. In fact, nearly 50% of this generation claim that they feel stressed all or most of the time.

  • 91% of Gen Z said they had experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom because of stress, such as feeling depressed or sad (American Psychological Association)

For Gen Zers, anxiety has been heightened by the pandemic, unemployment, climate change, technology, social media exposure, and other stressors that have impacted them during their formative years within a relatively short time frame. Thus, employers should be aware of mental health issues in the workplace generally and specifically with younger employees.

 Zoomers Value Inclusion & Diversity

Gen Z is conscious of systemic racism; many hold non-traditional views of gender identity and are hyperaware of the various types of discrimination.

  • 76% of Gen Zers are one with caring, friendly, and socially conscious people. (YahooFinance, 2022)
  • 77% find it necessary to work for a company that cares about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Therefore, employers interested in attracting gen-z talent must emphasize diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) as part of any recruitment drive. Plus, the zoom generation is highly motivated by social and political causes and will join organizations that share their values.

Note: Employers should consider developing benefits packages that include paid time off, mental health days, or activities that create a sense of community. They value employers who prioritize employee mental health.

Gen Z Workplace Motivators

Gen Zers tend to be industrious. Hence, they want challenging work in an environment that allows them to assemble resources, make decisions and execute a plan. Furthermore, zoomers believe on-the-job training to be more effective than traditional ways of learning. Thus, gen-z employee training programs should be interactive, hands-on, and enjoyable.

Remember when working with members of Gen Z to:

  • Provide adequate training opportunities focusing on new (hard) skills
  • Consider them for promotion along with other qualified employees
  • Develop a career path with them that enables career personal and professional growth

Gen Zers Are Motivated By External Rewards

A 2022 Deloitte report found that salary was the top motivator for gen Zers to leave a job. Gen Z was raised in a time wherein their family may have experienced financial instability, for example, the housing crisis of 2008 and the pandemic. As a result, many in this cohort tend to be risk-averse, value job stability and are more financially motivated to earn money than the Millenials

iGen Values Autonomy in the workplace

Quite often, members of Generation Z are independent and thus prefer to learn things by themselves, whereas millennials value teamwork and collaboration. The most significant difference between Gen Z and older adults is that the former emphasizes individualism.

This tendency toward personal identity and responsibility suggests that independent work arrangements combined with a coaching approach to supervision would be practical.

In sum, employers should design clear career paths, mentorship programs, and training programs to attract Gen Z talent.

These programs aim to show Gen Z candidates that the company values them for the long-term potential they bring and not just to fill an entry-level position.

Gen Z Workplace De-motivators

In the workplace, Generation Z wants to be treated as equals regardless of age, seniority, or experience gap between them and previous generations. They want to be able to give their opinions and be respected for them. For Zers, the slightest disrespect or condescension will lead to disengagement and reduced motivation.

Things that can demotivate Generation Z include:

  • Too much individual reinforcement
  • Repetitive unfulfilling work
  • Lack of transparency, dishonesty, and hypocrisy
  • Employers that do not have a social conscience or values
  • Lack of training or learning opportunities
  • Micromanagers and toxic customers
  • High-stress work environments

Now that we know a little about what makes Generation Z unique, let’s look at how to manage them in the workplace successfully. The first step is understanding their values and expectations. Gen Zers feel gratification through achievement and independence. They want to feel like they’re making a difference and contributing to something larger than themselves. They also have high standards for work ethic- they expect to be able to learn new things quickly and work hard.

The key to managing Gen Z employees is not judging them by traditional work values. This means giving them opportunities for growth and development, as well as providing feedback that is timely and relevant. It’s also essential to create an environment where they can be themselves; one that embraces diversity, technology and innovation.

It’s essential to remember that every Generation has its quirks, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Therefore, we cannot solely rely on past management methods when working with Gen Z employees; we need to adapt our strategies accordingly.

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