How to Manage Generation Z Workplace (SPOILER: They Aren’t Like Millennials)

March 26, 2020

In 2019, the first graduating class of Generation Z entered the workforce. Over the next ten years, Boomers will retire, Millennials will enter senior management roles, and Gen Z will make up one-third of the workforce.

Are your managers and HR team ready to attract, manage, and retain these new employees?

In today’s post, you’ll learn:

  • What motivates Gen Z.
  • Things your company needs to implement.
  • How managers should engage with Gen Z to boost productivity and company loyalty.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when managing Generation Z in the workplace.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z (also known as the iGeneration or Digital Natives) starts roughly between 1996 to 2012. At the moment, that means they are between the ages of 8 and 24.

It also means that the newest generation is taking its first steps into the workplace as interns or entry-level employees. In fact, they will make up 24% of the global workforce by 2020.

As this percentage will continue to grow, managers and HR teams need to start thinking about how to attract and retain their youngest employees.

The Differences Between Gen Z and Millenials at Work

Millennials at work

Generation Z at work

●      Prefer collaborative working environments and seating arrangements.

●      Optimistic due to encouraging Boomer parents who grew up in a time of opportunity and prosperity

●      Digital pioneers and witnessed the rise of social media, internet, and instant messaging.

●      Grew up publicly sharing their thoughts, opinions, and life updates.

●      Notorious job hoppers and have little patience for stagnation in their careers.

●      Concerned with progress.

●      Want to achieve a work-life balance

●      Prefer their own workspace than share it with other people.

●      Realistic due to growing up during a recession with skeptical parents.

●      Born into the digital age and are 24/7 connectivity.

●      More cautious and selective about what information they share online.

●      Prefer education alternatives like on-demand learning, YouTube tutorials, or on the job development training and are wary of college debt.

●      Interested in role hopping and learning different tasks or taking on projects outside of their designated job role.

●      Concerned with innovation.

●      Want flexibility in how they work

How to Manage Generation Z in the Workplace

As the new generation enters the workforce, you need to create an environment that appeals to them and evolves with their needs.

#1: Team Collaboration and Communication

Generation Z values social interaction. So much so that 51% prefer speaking to friends, family, and coworkers face-to-face rather than text.

In the office, managers should create a culture that fosters team spirit to encourage Digital Natives to stay put. You also want to make sure you give them plenty of ways to collaborate and communicate in-person and online.

You can achieve that by:

  • Choosing video calls over phone calls.
  • Opting for recurring meetings to give Gen Z the human connection they crave.
  • Not skimping on feedback. Gen Z’s constantly seek validation and want daily communication. Managers should check-in often, offer thoughtful critique, and set up weekly feedback and performance reviews.
  • Encouraging team bonding with social activities.
  • Reviewing your communication channels. Gen Z prefers email, text, and social media for day-to-day communication.

 

By balancing out their screen time with in-person meetings, you’ll keep Gen Z engaged and happy. For a better communication stack, I recommend switching up your communication channels into a cloud pbx system.

#2: Financial Stability & Perks of the Job

Unlike Millenials who aren’t motivated by money, Digital Natives are the opposite.

Growing up in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, this generation has a clear memory of their parents losing their jobs and siblings struggling to pay back massive student loans.

As a result, Gen Z values financial security above all else, and 70% agree that health insurance is a must-have. And while perks like free food are nice, it won’t keep them around.

Here’s what will:

  • Use a mix of traditional benefits like medical aid, compensation perks, student loan assistance, wellness benefits, and attractive maternity/paternity policies.
  • Tailor perks like telecommuting to each Gen Z employee. Some will want to work from home a few days a week while others value education.
  • Get ready to negotiate. Gen Z won’t accept a salary if it doesn’t match their worth. But if you give them the right dollar amount, this generation will work harder and longer.

#3: Independence and Ownership

Generation Z is not motivated by job titles, but are role hoppers. These young employees have zero interest in climbing the corporate ladder, but that doesn’t mean they reject leadership altogether.

As one of the most self-sufficient generations, managers should take advantage of their independence and research skills.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Give Gen Z ownership of a project that they can implement from start to finish.
  • Give them the space to share their ideas and use their creativity to benefit your company.
  • Don’t rely on convention job roles and tasks. Opt for rotational programs and job shadowing where Gen Z can learn and develop their workplace skill set.
  • Give them the tools for independent research and use online courses to encourage personal and professional development.

#4: Offer Flexibility & Promote a Culture of ‘Unplugging’

Millennials changed how we work forever by pushing for more flexibility in the workplace. Gen Z wants to continue to blur the lines between work and life even further.

If you want to attract Digital Natives to your company and avoid high staff turnover, managers should do the following:

  • Implement flexible work schedules with a good work-life balance.
  • Promote remote work and incorporate opportunities.
  • Encourage a culture of ‘unplugging’ and respecting personal time.

#5: Plan for Career Advancement

Unlike Millennials who tend to change jobs every two years, Gen Z craves stability. This is good news for employers who want to reap the benefits of investing in their workforce.

However, if your company lacks career advancement opportunities, Gen Z won’t stick around. The youngest generation values internal mobility and wants to work for companies that have a “promote from within” policy in place.

With the majority believing they should be promoted within one year, managers review the following:

  • Learning and development: Do you have an L&D program in place?
  • Internal promotion: What is the current process, and does the company practice hiring from within?
  • Responsibility: What opportunities are there to give Gen Z a sense of responsibility and ownership in the workplace?

#6: Embrace New Technology

Technology and Gen Z go hand in hand. This is the first generation that doesn’t remember a time before Wi-Fi, social media, and the stress of illegally downloading songs on LimeWire.

Managers need to meet the digital needs of Gen Z. This generation expects technology to fit and work seamlessly in their personal and professional lives.

Sluggish Wi-Fi and non-intuitive interfaces will frustrate Gen Z and slow down their output. If you want to keep your Gen Z employees happy, you need to make sure your workplace integrates modern technology to satisfy their desire for social interaction and productivity.

You can do this by:

  • Making use of instant-messaging tools.
  • Encourage the use of wearables, and use virtual reality in onboarding or training.
  • Giving employees access to massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  • Creating an employee app for internal communication.
  • Raising productivity workshops to help your team work efficiently both in office and at home.
  • Use tools to improve productivity of specific verticals. For instance, integrate email tracking tools for sales, SMM tools for marketers, etc.

In general, gen z workforce are all about the latest productivity stacks so encourage productivity tools within your organization. This will help your team work more efficiently, instead of overworking haphazardly.

#7: Help Gen Z Manage Their Stress Levels

According to a survey by Future Workplace, 37% of Gen Z feel that stress is their biggest obstacle and leads to delays in their career development.

So what’s stressing this generation out? Work, money, and job stability.

If managers don’t handle this well, it can lead to:

  • Higher healthcare costs.
  • Decrease in productivity.
  • Increase in sick days and accidents on the job.

The best way to mitigate this problem is by offering perks like:

  • More vacation days.
  • Encouraging employees to switch off.
  • Competitive salaries.
  • Making sure employees (especially those on the graveyard shift) get enough sleep.

In general, make sure to proactively manage workplace issues. As doing so will lead to a more productive and happy workplace. Plus, your gen z team will be able to get more done in less and have more control over their time.

#8: Don’t Make Gen Z Read Lengthy Documents

Want to capture Gen Z’s attention? Throw out those thick onboarding documents.

The youngest generation has new rules on how they want to receive content. If you have important information you want to get across, it’s better to use modern content that’s compelling.

You want to avoid creating boring lengthy documents, and instead use visual content than text. For instance, turn lengthy documents into engaging presentations, infographics, etc.

HR teams and managers need to adapt their onboarding, training, and feedback processes. Swap out lengthy pages for a different format like video.

Consider templates from a visual tool like Venngage to revamp internal documents.

On another note, use their love for short-form visual content like YouTube or an interactive quiz to keep them engaged and avoid losing their attention.

#9: Make Diversity and Inclusion Part of the Workplace

Do you have a diverse and inclusive workforce?

63% of Generation Z feel that it’s essential to work with people from different educational backgrounds, skill levels, and cultures.

Not only does diversity make your company more attractive to Gen Z, but it’s an important part of your employee retention plan. 69% of Gen Zs said they would stay at their employer for longer than five years if the organization is diverse.

Managers should review their promotion process to make sure it’s on par with Gen Z’s expectations and that their young team members have access to different people in the workspace and feel included.

#10: Listen to Your Gen Z Employees

One of Gen Z’s biggest worries in the workplace is ageism. They don’t want to be ignored or have to forfeit opportunities to older generations.

These Digital Natives believe that promotions and responsibility should be based on ideas and contributions.

You can help your Gen Z employees feel heard and valued by:

  • Inviting them to strategy meetings.
  • Listening to their ideas on business.
  • Valuing their insights despite their age and newbie experience.
  • Treating them with the same respect as someone more senior.

Get Your Company Ready for Generation Z Entering The Workforce

Managers need to adapt to the flexibility Gen Z brings to the workplace. If you want a high-performing, and productive teams that you can invest in here are the most essential measures to put in place:

  • Collaboration and communication: Make sure you’re giving Gen Z weekly feedback and plenty of opportunities to socialize online (read: video conferencing) and in-person.
  • Career advancement: Gen Z is more likely to stay with a company that promotes from within and offers opportunities to take on responsibility and upskill.
  • Financial stability and perks: Offer your Digital Natives a competitive salary, health insurance, personal loan options and other perks that are tailored to their needs.
  • Technology: Help Gen Z stay productive and maximize their multi-tasking with the right technology.
  • Flexibility and Positive Work Culture: Offer working from home options and encourage your staff to de-stress and “switch-off” from the office.
  • Visual Aids: Keep the younger generation engaged by adding more visual elements to your onboarding processes and training manuals.
  • Leadership: While Gen Z doesn’t care about traditional job titles and becoming VP in a year, you should have procedures in place to encourage independence and ownership of projects.
  • Diversity: Create a workplace culture that promotes diversity and is inclusive of all people regardless of their backgrounds, race, or skill set.
  • Ageism: Don’t treat your Gen Z employees differently because of their age or experience. Value their ideas and contributions.

Do you have any tips for managing Gen Z? What do you predict will be the greatest challenge when it comes to managing Digital Natives in the workplace?


Mark Quadros is a SaaS freelance writer that helps brands create rad content and get the most out of what they already have. In his free time, he loves traveling the world and living a minimalist life from his backpack.

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