Generation Z in the Workplace: Meeting Them Where They Are
Last updated on September 27, 2022 at 05:18 pm
Generation Z is going to shake up the way we work. Some organizations are dreading this change (perhaps “reckoning” is the better word). But I think having Generation Z in the workplace is going to be a catalyst for positive change. And the organizations who prepare to meet the needs of all their employees—not just Gen Z—will reap the benefits.
Get To Know Generation Z
Let’s focus on some facts about Gen Z:
- Gen Z will soon surpass Millennials as the largest generation. More than one third of the world’s population belongs to this generation.
- This generation “values salary less than every other generation,” but don’t misunderstand…salary is still the most important factor for them when deciding where to work.
- To win over Gen Zers, you need to have a strong purpose and focus on social issues.
Like with any generation, there are countless studies you can find to determine what motivates Gen Z, what they want, how they want to work, and so on. But if you really want to support Generation Z in the workplace, we recommend actually asking them what they want. This is really a best practice for all your employee groups.
While a generation can be studied at a high-level, there are so many factors that can impact the wants and needs of an individual. Your Gen Z employees might have vastly different needs than those who work at another organization. But don’t fall into the trap of stereotyping them. You have to really get to know the youngest generation of workers joining the workforce.
So, really make an effort to get the feedback of Generation Z as they join the workplace. See their feedback as an opportunity and not an obstacle or a disturbance to the “way things are.”
- Are there better ways to onboard them?
- Has your digital transformation been lagging, and now you have no choice?
- Is it time to rethink your purpose and who you are as a company?
Key Sticking Points for Gen Z
Like we’ve mentioned, your stance on key social issues is going to become a sticking point for Generation Z. And, frankly, you should thank them for their persistence on these issues. One of the big ones is going to be diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Another huge sticking point for this generation is going to be workplace technology. The reality is that these employees grew up with technology and want to use it at work for a good reason: it’s easy!
And since 97% of US adults own a smartphone (PEW Research), smartphone ownership and BYOD really isn’t a generational thing anymore. But it will be something younger generations expect at work. So, if you haven’t yet, it’s time to embrace the digital revolution!
Embracing Generation Z in the Workplace
To really meet this new generation where they are, there are a few key things you can do:
- Ask them what they need and want. The worst thing you can do is make assumptions about generations or groups of employees. Start by getting the facts right about your specific employees. And asking employees for regular feedback has an added benefit: it helps employees feel cared for and valued.
- Take that intel and reflect on your current systems, processes, and ways of communicating. An internal communications audit might be in order here. Do you have the channels this group said they’d prefer? Are your communications shared in multiple formats to accommodate different learning styles? What do your other employees think about potential new ways of working?
- Get creative. There is nothing wrong with trying something new, so long as you’re testing and tracking your success with data.
- Keep advocating for your employees. Internal communications teams have always had a good finger on the pulse of the needs of employees. It might be up to you to start the internal conversation about new ways of working, the importance of DEI, and realigning on purpose. Use your expertise to help your company evolve as your workforce changes.
Meet Employees Where They Are
Remember all people, regardless of the generation they belong to, just want to be valued, respected, and feel like they have a voice. So, don’t just focus on surveying and starting focus groups with Generation Z because they’re the new kids. Really try to learn:
- Do you understand the needs of all your employee groups?
- Have you focused on the needs of frontline workers in addition to your deskbound teams?
- Do you understand the needs of employees in different departments? Or in different geographical locations?
Even if you surveyed these other groups and generations before, remember that things change. Keep asking!
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