A lot has been said about Millennials in the workplace. In demanding flexibility and transparency, they challenged all industries to evolve to meet their needs. They tore down cubicles in favor of open spaces and ditched the 9-5 for free-flowing schedules and remote work. Most importantly, they demanded more out of the companies they worked for—more collaboration, more humanness, more empathy.

Now it’s Gen Z’s turn to shake things up. Generation Z, born between 1996 and 2009, represents the most diverse generation in U.S. history. At 65 million strong in the U.S., Gen Z makes up 40% of the workforce.

Here are five things you should know to help motivate them in the workplace.

1. Give them job security and a path to a raise

Millennials are said to be more motivated by purpose than by money. As a result, modern companies became laser-focused on figuring out the best ways to keep employees engaged and fulfilled. 

Although Gen Z cares about making a difference, job and financial security are more important to them. They knew that upon leaving college, they’d be entering a hyper-competitive global workforce, and they’ve been groomed for it their entire lives. Gen Z grew up with elite sports leagues and helicopter parents pushing their teens to bolster their college applications with extracurriculars and AP classes. This competitive drive carries into the office. They crave structure and rewards and need to see a clear career path to stay committed to their jobs.

2. They need feedback, and fast!

Research has shown that Gen Z’s brains have evolved to process information faster. As a result, Gen Z will expect constant feedback from their managers. Many companies have already begun remodeling the performance review to offer more focused, consistent, and impactful feedback. This model might have to be readjusted yet again for a new generation.

3. Gen Z is entrepreneurial

Gen Z grew up with the rise of the tech industry. They saw how technology could be leveraged to create exciting companies and mountains of money and figured they could do it too. Nearly 72% of them want to start their own business. 

At work, they expect a revolving door of new and exciting projects and opportunities to grow. They don’t believe that you need years of experience to prove your worth or to do great work (think about how many college-aged techies in sweatshirts they grew up idolizing). They believe in the power of good ideas, innovation, and creativity. Managers can cater to this motivation to win by giving employees project-based work, so they feel ownership and the space to contribute ideas and feel impactful. 

“One of the best ways I have seen leaders engage with Gen Z is to ask them how they would build a product or service or design a process,” says Paul Carney, an author, and speaker on HR trends. “Gen Z has some amazing abilities to bring together information, process it, and take action. When we do allow them to share ideas, great things happen.

4. They prefer face to face communication 

Despite growing up with phones glued to their hands, 53% of Gen Zers prefer in-person communication over instant messaging or email. Make sure to set time with them to meet in person. Since they are also used to regularly processing information, they want to understand the full picture. Don’t be shy about sharing the “bad news,” such as layoffs or a product failure with them.

5. They want a holistic interview process

Instead of reviewing a resume and holding one on one interviews with a candidate, take another approach to the recruitment process. Experiment with job simulations that involve working with a team to resolve an urgent task. Gen Zers will feel challenged and already part of the team.

Get ready, because here they come

As the most diverse generation in history, Gen Z’s most impactful workplace changes will create more inclusive and diverse company cultures. They grew up on social media and saw that the smallest fuse can spark widespread change and that individuals have the power to create movements. 

Given how socially aware they are, Gen Z seeks jobs that provide opportunities to contribute, create, lead, and learn. By understanding what motivates them in the workplace and catering to those needs, much like they did for Millenials prior, companies will benefit and change for the better.


What drives Gen Z in the workplace? Here’s what you need to know - PHOTO-2021-01-09-22-08-30-e1613468247172.jpg

From Annie Lubin

Annie grew up in Brooklyn, New York. On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find her curled up with her cats reading a magazine profile about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.