“Something about my generation…”
As the years fly by, your workforce probably looks different—and acts a little differently, too. By 2025, according to the World Economic Forum, an incredible 27 percent of the workforce will be from Generation Z (that is, they’ll have been born between 1997 and 2012).
It’s a significant shift. This new generation of talent has uniquely different job expectations and high demands of their employers. Many companies are simply not prepared to meet them.
With Fast Company reporting that Generation Zers are the least happy generation at work, it’s clear that if their high standards aren’t met, they are more than willing to leave the business and step out on their own.
As a result, people leaders need to quickly get up to speed with how to listen and adapt. Knowing what to change and what to improve on can be the difference between attracting and retaining these professionals or losing out to competitors.
To build a thriving Gen Z workforce, modern organizations need new approaches to people-focused business management.
Who is the Gen Z professional?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the key hallmarks of a Gen Z professional.
Although generalizations will only get us so far, it is possible to draw out some commonalities in how they approach their work:
- They are career-focused and ambitious, and many aspire to work for top-tier companies or venture into successful entrepreneurship
- They expect frequent and valuable feedback from their managers on their work to help them develop and progress
- They are keen to move into high-paying managerial positions and sometimes expect rapid advancement
- They expect companies to be receptive to new ideas and to be open to evolving old processes
- They don’t tolerate “toxic cultures, discrimination, misalignment between words and actions of management, or work that won’t flex to fit their personal lives”
- They expect their employer to prioritize a healthy work-life balance and create a company culture that prioritizes mental health as a standard
- They feel less inclined to present a “professional” exterior at work, which can mean bringing personal issues with them and sharing these with managers, co-workers, and HR professionals
All of these traits present unique challenges for people leaders as you seek ways of integrating and empowering your Gen Zers.
How can you best accommodate Gen Z talent?
To help Generation Z feel at home in your company, it’s worth looking at your approach to wellness, knowledge, communication, and flexibility.
Go all in on health and wellness benefits
In recent times, a competitive recruitment environment has encouraged many businesses to rely on premium perks and benefits packages to attract the brightest talent.
Today’s younger professionals are willing to change jobs for better benefits. Effective health packages and a positive approach to wellbeing at work are now truly decisive factors.
Lifestyle or health benefits such as gym memberships and free access to meditation apps are becoming increasingly desirable for the newer generation. Fundamentally, it will make them feel like you care. As Rose Anna Garza writes in SHRM, “If you don’t invest in your people, they will feel like you don’t value them.”
Hold their attention
Interest and job satisfaction are key for Gen Z employees. Hold their attention with:
- A powerful employee value proposition (EVP). This will help you recruit and retain the best younger workforce members and articulate your unique offer.
- A progressive company culture that champions fair pay and diversity. Many professionals now expect to see this at work rather than considering it a special bonus.
- Flexibility in your roles. Gen Z professionals want businesses to place a greater emphasis on quality output rather than time spent working and to understand the impact that issues outside work can have on them. They are also particularly keen on hybrid work: Most are looking for a healthy balance between on-site and remote working, set on their terms.
- A strong people strategy for career mobility. If Gen Zers don’t see a route to climb the career ladder, they’re likely to leave the company. Despite relative inexperience, many have already earned managerial roles and expect to advance more rapidly than what may be realistic in your organization. Therefore, it’s essential to provide regular on-the-job training to help people upskill and progress in their career development.
Invest in mentorships and knowledge-sharing
The strongest teams are built on a combination of skills and education. Recent years have demonstrated the need for professionals to be resilient and agile to help businesses overcome the challenges they face.
As a result, a skills-based workforce is becoming the new norm. Investing in mentorships, knowledge-sharing, upskilling, reskilling, and multi-skilling opportunities can boost engagement and prepare your teams for whatever happens.
Equally, don’t assume that your younger team members are familiar with technology. Ask them what they’re comfortable with and introduce new software as they progress.
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Embed communication and feedback into your culture
Communication is crucial for any healthy workforce. But many members of Generation Z are hyper-focused on career advancement and improving their skills. That makes it crucial to engage in regular conversation with them and to provide feedback on their development.
A feedback system is also the best way of understanding which benefits hold the most sway among your people, helping you shape your future offering and become an even more attractive workplace.
The new generation of talent
Gen Z professionals are certainly unique, and they have a higher set of demands and expectations than many of the more veteran members of your organization.
But as they become a more and more significant part of the workforce, attracting young talent is not just advisable but necessary. Maintaining interest, considering the wellbeing of your people, and providing regular feedback and upskilling opportunities, helps build the skills and experience that your company—and industry—will benefit from for years to come.
As the face of your workforce evolves, the time to understand and meet the needs and expectations of Generation Z is now.